Nuclear Blaze is an action platformer for the Nintendo Switch. This fire-fighting adventure takes us through a burning facility, extinguishing fires and uncovering a dangerous mystery in the process. Sounds fun, right? It is!

The game begins with an explosion that’s soon attended to by a team of firefighters. You play the role of one of these heroic people who ventures a little further than the others. Your investigations lead you to a seemingly abandoned facility full of redacted notes and other lost messages that allude to an experiment gone awry. The further underground you proceed, the more the mystery unravels.

Nuclear Blaze - Nintendo Switch - screen 1

Most of the gameplay involves moving through this particular building and putting out those pesky fires. It sounds simple, and it is to an extent. You move your little hero and direct the hose with the control stick. You can also jump and (eventually) roll, along with other unlockable moves. Keeping things simple in this regard allows for other design features to stand out.

For example, you have a limited supply of water. Handy tanks are scattered throughout the facility, but you should still time your movements so you’re not left stranded. Some fires must be extinguished within a time limit, with the seconds counting down before your eyes. If you don’t make it, the room explodes, killing you and forcing you to retry. This stressful element keeps the adrenaline pumping. Some flames are caused by electrical faults, meaning your water is useless – in fact, soaking those flames will injure or kill you. You’ll need to deactivate the electricity causing the fire by finding a lever. There are also locked doors and other blockades, adding to the game’s puzzle element. It keeps you thinking while adding variety. 

The graphics are terrific. The retro aesthetic suits the mood, with pixelated characters and dark buildings that let the flames stand out. The sound effects and audio all work together to capture the stressful environment of an inferno. Visual cues also help, such as a brighter blue-tinged hue when you’ve cleared an area. You can allow yourself to feel safe for just a moment before proceeding.

Nuclear Blaze - Nintendo Switch - screen 3

Another neat feature of Nuclear Blaze is its accessibility. There’s a kid-friendly mode ready to deploy up front. You can tweak many settings in the main mode simply by accessing an in-game menu. Factors include how much water you can hold, how far you can spray, and how quickly the fire spreads. Adjusting these can take the edge off the difficulty; although it’s not insanely hard, it’s no walk in the park by default. Thankfully, your heroic little firefighter quickly respawns at the last checkpoint. These checkpoints are regularly deployed, minimizing any frustration at replaying. 

I also love how you remain in radio contact with your team throughout the journey. This communication not only sounds authentic, it helps create a sense of urgency. It also evokes a feeling of isolation by highlighting the fact that your team can’t reach you.

Nuclear Blaze - Nintendo Switch - screen 2

Honestly, the only downside to Nuclear Blaze is its relatively short length. You’ll be done within a few hours, although there are incentives to replay. Firstly, there’s an unlockable “hold my beer” mode, providing additional challenges after the credits roll. Secondly, there are achievements to conquer, with a handy list available from the title screen. Finally, there are 16 kittens to rescue. I only found six on my first run through, guaranteeing another foray into the flaming building to save the rest. 

Overall, Nuclear Blaze is an absolute blast. The 2D platforming is complemented by unique fire-based puzzles that keep you on your toes while unraveling the mystery behind this abandoned facility. There’s something satisfying about clearing a room of flames, not to mention rescuing cute kittens. Despite its short runtime, I highly recommend this to anyone who loves action platformers.