Sometimes, the best games are the simplest. That was the rule in childhood, at least, and one that the developers of Hot Lava are attempting to follow with their new game. This Hot Lava review will be taking a look at some of the key aspects of the game. Through doing so, players will get a chance to figure out whether this Early Access game is actually worth their time.
|Type of game:||First-person platformer|
|Total Play Time:||Early Access|
|System Requirements:||CPU: 1.2 GHz
GPU: 4 GB
RAM: 512 MB
HDD Space: 10 GB
The World of Hot Lava
Hot Lava is still in development, but it has largely positive reviews among early adopters. To figure out if they’re right, we’ll have to look at several aspects of the game. This review will take a look at the game’s story, the game’s main characters, its location, and even its future DLC.
Atmosphere & Location
There are several different locations in Hot Lava, some of which haven’t even been released yet. The one thing that they all seem to have in common, though, is that they are very mundane locations made impressive by a child’s imagination. You take a space like a school room or bedroom and then cover it with lava. Not with real lava, mind you, but lava as a child imagines it to be. It lends itself to some incredible visuals and some particularly neat effects, but it also keeps you firmly rooted in the idea that everything in the game really is in the mind of a child.
The heart of this game is directly tied to its inspiration. This is a game inspired by childhood, particularly one in the pre-internet age. As such, you’ll see many settings that are familiar to children of virtually all ages. It’s not necessarily anything mind-blowing, but the little details are amazing. While the rooms might not necessarily look like real rooms, they may well look the way you remember your childhood room or classroom looking.
At the moment, there’s not a named main character in Hot Lava. That’s not too uncommon, especially in games like this. It’s a first-person game that really wants to make you feel like you’re the one involved, so naming a character might take something away from the experience. Instead, you’re forced into the role of the protagonist – the only thing that really changes is that you are taking on the role of a child with a fairly active imagination. It might not be a complex character switch, but it’s still fun.
In Hot Lava, you play as a child. The child’s of an indeterminate age and background, but one thing is for sure – he or she enjoys the old-fashioned game of Hot Lava. It’s possible that the child has many other hobbies and interests given the various rooms, but there’s something nice about playing a child who seems to simply be a child. There’s no pathos here or dark secrets. You’re just a kid who tries to find something fun to do in a variety of different rooms. Since this is a game, of course, you just so happen to be a child who uses his toys to pull off some fairly amazing feats of platforming across sections of dangerous hot lava. The toys themselves are clear riffs on 80s toys like GI Joe, each with their own personalities but ultimately still just extensions of the player.
The only other major characters in the game, outside of those of the child’s imagination, are other players. These players are likewise children’s’ toys who seem to be playing along with the main character. You’ll compete against them, of course, but it all seems to be in good fun. If you are looking for deep rivalries, those will all have to be in your own head. This is a game that encourages you to have a good time without really requiring you to think of anything as deep as motivation.
Early Access is problematic from a story standpoint. Most games that go through Early Access purposefully leave parts of the story out of the game. Others remove the story entirely, hoping that the mechanics will be enough to keep players in the game until the narrative time is done polishing the various story beats. It’s impossible to know if Hot Lava actually has a story at this point or if it is being withheld from players. It doesn’t seem to matter much either way, though, as the story really is one that builds itself as the player goes through the game.
The basic idea being Hot Lava is the same as the childhood game played across the world. You are a child, and the floor is lava. You can’t touch the floor, so you’ll have to navigate your way across various rooms by using the furniture, walls, ceiling, and other items. It’s not the deepest story in the world, and it probably isn’t even a narrative – but it’s something familiar, and that makes it feel special. You can make a strong argument that the story of the game is just the story of how a child sees the world around himself or herself. If a narrative is added to the game, it’s hard to see it being any more compelling than that simple piece of perspective.
This is, however, a game that’s great for creating evolving, emergent stories. There might not be characters, but you can race against other people. There might not be story-driven danger, but there will always be that one obstacle with which you have trouble. You’ll be able to talk about this game with friends for quite some time, telling your tales of how you got across the room and how one or more specific paths just wasn’t as fair as it should be. This game will provoke conversations with the stories you tell with the game rather than with the stories that it tells to you.
DLC & Expansion Packs
Given the fact that the game is still in beta, it’s a little early to tell if there will actually be any DLC for the game. What it does have at the moment, though, is a paid beta – the kind where you test the bugs while paying a premium to do so. This does mean that the game is constantly changing and expanding, with new modes being added bit by bit. It can be a little frustrating for someone who wants a complete game, but you do get to see it grow.
Given the nature of the game, though, it’s hard to imagine that there won’t at least be free updates to what players currently have. It’s a growing game and one that has a lot of potential. Only time will tell whether DLC will be the name of the game or if free updates will keep the game alive.
If you like competitive parkour, childhood imagination, or quirky games, you’ll probably enjoy Hot Lava. You certainly won’t find a story or characters here, but that’s fine. Not every game has to be a narrative work of art – some, in fact, just need to be fun. While the action can get repetitive, it’s novel enough that even the Early Access version is probably worth your time.
That’s just our opinion, though, and you might have your own. Hot Lava is still in Early Access, so your opinions might have come from a different build of the game than our own. If you have comments to share, don’t keep them to yourself – let us know today.