The pixel art action-platformer Arsonist Heaven flames out early on.
My first exposure to Arsonist Heaven came during the Eastasiasoft Midsummer Showcase. It looked interesting enough to me, so I requested a review copy.
Let me add a few things before diving into the game. First off, I do not enjoy ripping into indie developers, and this is clearly an indie project. That being said, some games just should not get released. This is a prime example of a game that was not ready for prime time at all.
A laundry list of issues
The problems with this game start at the start menu. Normally, this is hardly worth mentioning, but I think it is worth pointing out in this case. The buttons do not match the pixel-art aesthetic. The UI looks cheap and lazy overall. The level number icons look like they were made in Microsoft Paint.
First impressions matter. Just throwing a block of barely readable text at players and calling it a backstory is unacceptable. They are honestly better off removing the “story” and leaving players completely in the dark. Needless to say, this game really starts things off on the wrong foot, foreshadowing the issues that I encountered later while actually diving into the gameplay.
In terms of gameplay, you run around in a hazmat suit with a flamethrower for a weapon and a jetpack attached to your back. The flamethrower is used to kill all sorts of monsters that the game throws your way. The jetpack helps you reach different areas in the game.
The controls are pretty simple to pick up and play. You control character movement with the left analog stick or the D-pad. At least on Xbox, your flamethrower will shoot flames with the A button while you reload with the X button. The B button will have you jump with your jetpack while double-tapping B will result in a double jump.
The main problem with this setup is that you cannot control the direction of your flamethrower. Other games would just assign the flamethrower to the right analog stick and let you go to town in any direction that you want. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here.
The issues don’t end there
I wish that I could say something more positive about Arsonist Heaven. Alas, there are more issues that we need to cover. First off, the level design feels kind of thrown together and not particularly interesting. The designs of the monsters are more interesting, but their attacks will annoy the heck out of you.
Whenever you attack an enemy with your flamethrower, it does not react at all. It just continues on its merry old way pretending that it’s not getting burned alive. For the player, this means that it will continue to move and attack you even after you start the onslaught of flames. This leads to a ton of cheap shots and deaths that make this game infinitely less fun than if this serious flaw were fixed.
There are more annoying aspects of the game too. For instance, there’s a meter in the upper right that measures your jetpack. It runs out a lot. Your flamethrower also has canisters that run out frequently and require you to reload instead of just doing that for you. Canisters are scattered throughout the level; you can refill them, but it’s a hassle.
The bottom line here is that this game is not fun to play. With a few tweaks to the gameplay, this might have been a relatively fun time. As it is, though, it’s not enjoyable at all.
The one positive thing that I can say about this game is that the pixel art is serviceable. It is not amazing. It will not knock your socks off, but it is at least competent. Again, though, the user interface is awful, so that takes away from some of the otherwise decent graphics and presentation.
Arsonist Heaven has few redeeming qualities. Aside from decent pixel art, you are likely to find the game’s many annoyances an insurmountable hill to climb in terms of having the patience to play past a few levels. That’s a shame since I do think that there is a decent game concept here.
Game Freaks 365 received a free review copy.