Let’s all stop pretending like video games didn’t peak back in 1997 with MECC’s beloved edutainment survival thriller Oregon Trail (3rd Edition). It’s no one’s fault. Who knew it’d be so much fun to gather food and watch your whiney party get picked off by dysentery? The pulse-pounding anticipation of each move has kept elementary students clicking across the uncharted American Midwest for years. Now that intoxicating adrenaline is being amplified by modern game developers. The Flame in the Flood takes you on a wild rafting journey with only your loyal dog and your will to survive.

The core of the game is motion. The main protagonist, a young woman fittingly named Scout, and her dog, Aesop, must constantly move from place to place, following the twists and splits of a river through the American South. Things aren’t looking so good in the land of the free and home of the Big Mac though. The developers specifically describe FitF’s America as “post-societal,” rather than “post-apocalyptic.” There are still people bopping around, they’re just not worried about doing their taxes or registering to vote anymore.

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You’ll run into many of these world-weary vagabonds, with whom you can interact and trade. If you don’t have anything good though, you shouldn’t waste time gabbing. Scout and Aesop, like most living things, have needs, specifically of the food and water variety. Search each area, gathering supplies and crafting tools to help you keep everyone happy and breathing. Fortunately, Scout doesn’t have to brave everything alone. Old Aesop is always on guard duty, sensing dangers before they can creep onscreen.

This is pretty lucky for you because the American South is even more harrowing than usual. Predators, like most living things, also have needs, specifically of the fresh meat variety. So far, the developers have shown us FitF’s wolves: smart, vicious creatures that travel in packs and look particularly evil. Like, these things are going to break the “All Dogs Go to Heaven” rule. Scout doesn’t stand a chance against them in combat, so you’ll have to get creative if you want to keep all of her limbs intact.

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If you can’t think fast enough, Scout dies. Like actually dies. Permadeath keeps the stakes high, making every decision count. Luckily, starting over won’t be a straight repeat. The river is procedurally-generated, meaning no two playthroughs are alike. On every journey, you’ll meet new people, face new challenges, and brave a new environment. One of the only true constants is that all expeditions are set to the backdrop of an original full-length soundtrack by Alt-Country rocker Chuck Ragan, permeating Scout’s experiences with a honeyed melancholy.

The only other constant is wolves. Mangy bastards.

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The Flame in the Flood is the first project from the Molasses Flood, self-described as “a company of AAA refugees” on their official website. Team members hail from major developers like Irrational, Harmonix, and Bungie, with experience on game series like BioShock and Halo. Flame in the Flood is confirmed for release on PC, Mac, and Xbox One, with a release date to be announced at a later time.