It’s the dawn of time and Fire is a precious commodity. When Ungh fails to keep the fire alive, they send him out into the wilderness to reclaim it. This is Fire: Ungh’s Quest!
Genre(s): Point & Click Adventure
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Release Date: Oct 2016 (Wii U), Apr 2015 (PC)
Played: Full game.
Platforms: PC, Wii U
Purchase At: Steam, Wii U Shop
Source: Review Copy provided by Publisher
In the past, I’ve mentioned my love/hate relationship with Daedalic Entertainment, based on their incredible love for Moon Logic in puzzle design. It makes it so I approach their new games with equal parts excitement and trepidation, fearing what kind of insane puzzle design I might find inside. Sometimes, as is the case with Memoria, I’ll find strong and challenging puzzles yet with solutions well within rationality, and others like Deponia, where I start to consider if I should use psychotropic substances to grasp the answer Daedalic came up with.
Fire: Ungh’s Quest proves once more that when they move away from such complicated contraptions, Daedalic can still produce fantastic adventure games.
In Fire, you control the titular Ungh, a caveman who failed at the only job he ever had: keep the fire alive. But the dancing flames combined with the fire’s gentle warmth were too much for him and he fell asleep on his guard duty, so that when he woke up, the communal bonfire was nothing but blackened wood and cinders. And back in the BC, fire was a commodity!
They quickly give him the boot and tell him to go look for another fire to bring it home with him, setting him up on what is going to be a phenomenally insane adventure.
Unlike more traditional point & click adventure games, where you move freely between locations, Fire: Ungh’s Quest plays over a series of self-contained levels. During the first one, you not only learn the basics of play and using items—Ungh can only carry one at a time for example—but you also take him on a peyote fuelled vision where he sees a bunch of strange sprites spread around the world.
Collecting these little bugs is the goal for each level and once you do they create a portal that transports you to the next place. I’m not sure how much was a hallucination and how much was real, considering the little guys take you to outer space before depositing you at the volcano where the fire is.
Fire: Ungh’s Quest has a simple but direct premise, with bits of visual storytelling in each level that aren’t so much about connecting to the greater plot—no reason for that—but to explain how the different elements fit together, which in turn helps you decipher the solution to the puzzles.
One of the most refreshing things about Fire: Ungh’s Quest is that you not only interact with the environment using items or the character himself. There are instances where you can click on things for environmental effects, such as turning day into night in one of the earlier levels, so that the weather changes and you can use that to your advantage. This makes it so you’re constantly aware of everything on the screen, because you don’t know what might be helpful—though there is a button that shows all hotspots, something I’m very much ok with.
If I have an issue with the Fire: Ungh’s Quest, it’s with the controls. When building the game for the Wii U, Daedalic Entertainment made it so you could only control Ungh if you’re using the controller as the main screen. If you’re playing with the game on the TV, you can’t even move the character, as the sticks and touch-screen have no function. For a Wii U game this is an abysmal design decision.
Thankfully I had a Wii remote on hand, which I had recently purchased to play a couple of games I bought on the Wii U store, and I could use it to play the game in a more traditional point & click fashion instead of tapping on the touch screen. As much as I enjoy being able to play games on the Wii U remote screen, I prefer to play them on the TV.
This is not a long game, which is a shame. Fire: Ungh’s Quest introduces new fun mechanics every level, new design principles and gimmicks that only come together for the last level. I would’ve loved a few more levels with an increased challenge coming from combining these different things, especially the time-travel elements.
I loved the cartoonish and colourful hand drawn visuals, even more so for how they help sell the unrealistic world. There are dinosaurs with curtains that hide their internal organs, living rocks hopping around, a few pots that walk and monkeys studying a giant cellphone. It’s wonderfully zany and with the lovely grunts, squawks and random noises from both the environment and characters, it engrosses you in its great Saturday morning cartoon humour.
Fire: Ungh’s Quest is proof of how big Daedalic Entertainment’s range is when it comes to designing worlds and puzzles. I would’ve liked for it to be a bit longer though.
But I like it, a lot. Keep it up, Daedalic!
4.5/5 – Amazing!