Grow your empire. Then smoke it? Here’s our Blaze Revolutions review.
I don’t know how you spent your 4/20 this 2020, but I spent it growing my marijuana empire in the new stealth/tycoon hybrid Blaze Revolution on Steam.
Does that sound like a real thing? A stealth/tycoon hybrid? I’ve never heard of such a thing, but when you’re growing an illegal empire, a certain amount of stealth is necessary. This game is definitely interesting, so let’s get into it.
The tale of Blaze Revolutions isn’t quite what I expected. A million years ago I used to play a DOS text-based game about dealing drugs, but that was more of a trade simulator. Buy low, sell high (real high), that sort of thing. I figured Blaze would be something similar, but with graphics. But it ain’t.
Blaze takes place in a dystopian future where a mega-conglomerate called Soma has taken over everything. They issue VR headsets to the populace to keep them calm and brainwashed. Every city in the region is under their control and on their grid and they patrol the streets constantly with drones and police cars.
Leave it to the counterculture potheads to lead a chilled-out revolution and bring the people to their senses.
Among these counterculture leaders are the Blaze family, led initially by a peaceful botanist patriarch. When SomaCorp captures him, his children Janet and Winston Blaze must embark on a mission of subterfuge and influence to bring the people into their revolution and rescue their father, and destroy SomaCorp’s death grip on the world.
The story is central to this game, and pretty much every stage has multiple character interactions and dialogue. Although “interactions” may be too strong of a word. The characters talk and discuss the plot of the game as it unfolds, but there is no real interaction from the player. Fortunately, the dialogue seems to have been written thoughtfully and there are a few chuckles in there.
Players control a handful of heroes that drive around in signature automobiles with unique abilities. One has an EMP to take out patrols and server buildings, one can go into stealth mode, one sets up a mobile weed party to recruit new blood to the revolution.
The heroes do everything without leaving their cars, interestingly. Their time is split between building up off-grid villages to support their movement, harvest resources, increase influence, and provide housing for their people; and the rest of their time is spent sneaking around Soma-controlled cities to perform various functions.
In the Soma cities, players must stealthily avoid patrols by dashing, skulking around buildings to stay in blind spots, using special abilities, and hiding in buildings.
If you get noticed by a patrol, the whole city will be on your tail in a few seconds. If you just keep moving, they can’t arrest you. If you pull into a building, they can’t arrest you. Really, the only way to get arrested is to be completely cornered or leave your hero unattended. As long as they’re parked in a building, they’re fine. And even a three-badge wanted level will go away within a few seconds.
There are a few instances where there’s’ an actual challenge in town. One of the characters must use his EMP to take out server buildings, but the EMP takes about 30 seconds of close proximity to work. So that can be tough. There are times when heroes must follow patrols through security gates by shadowing them. If they are seen, the gates reactivate and they can be trapped.
While sneaking around town, heroes can drop into apartment buildings and throw weed parties. It’ll cost you a few units of cannabis, but you can usually pick up a few converts to join your cause. Revolution converts must be led back to your village and can take up jobs running coffee shops, growing hemp, running a bar, or whatever.
Heroes can also smoke out corporate buildings to convince the residents there to let them build cannabis gardens on the roof.
By converting buildings this way, players turn Soma’s purple map areas into green, friendly areas. Soma buildings that are surrounded by green-influenced buildings will be shut down.
Resource management involves growing hemp to process into hempcrete, which everything in the game is made from, and growing cannabis to win over buildings and recruit more people.
My personal feeling is that the game should focus more on the empire-building and less on the stealth. The idea of growing a massive marijuana empire and following through the typical city-builder pattern is a fun one. And while the stealthy jaunts into town are still pretty exciting, offer a change of pace to the game, and get a lot of work done in progressing the story, I wish there was a sandbox or scenario mode. As of now (Early Access) those don’t exist.
Graphics n’ stuff
I was actually surprised by how stylish this game is. The plot and premise may sound overly simplistic and immature (make people get high to enlighten them), but the graphics, characters, and the ever-overlooked user interface are all polished and look really good.
There is a minor bug that causes the (pretty chill) background music track to start over when you skip dialogue. But beyond that, I couldn’t find any glaring flaws.
The art style is low-poly and really colorful, with great lighting effects and it all hums along at a consistent 60 frames per second with v-sync turned on. Blaze Revolutions is genuinely fun to look at.
Like I said up top: This game is definitely interesting. And it has plenty of redeeming qualities. The graphics are very nice, and there is a solid foundation here for lots of fun. As it stands, however, this solid foundation only supports a campaign mode.
Another issue with Blaze is the difficulty curve. The game mechanics are good, but the game feels like just a vehicle to move a story. As a result, the early game is a total cakewalk. I was five hours in before I felt like I was being challenged at all. And I’m not good at strategy games. After that point, the challenge started to become clear as Soma started re-converting my people.
So based on the existing game but very much expecting the developers to introduce additional play modes, I’m happy to recommend this game. It currently lists for under $20 on Steam and there are very many more expensive games with less thought and more bugs. This is a solid Steam Early Access game with a promising future.