Arsonist Heaven Review: Falls Way Short of Heavenly

by David Sanchez July 29, 2022 @ 10:30 am

Arsonist Heaven

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch

Arsonist Heaven is a really cool-looking game. The pixel art is nice and colorful. The enemies look pretty decent. The levels’ visual themes are alright, too. And tucked somewhere in its very bare bones gameplay is an interesting idea. Unfortunately, the end product falls short of achieving anything that could be described as entertaining. Instead, what you’re left with here is dull, mundane, and monotonous.

Use Fire to Save the World

Recently, a charming little indie game titled Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue DX treated players to a mix of firefighting and platforming that was pretty fun. It may not have been perfect, but the quirky roguelite worked well. The gameplay concept of Arsonist Heaven is the opposite of that, because instead of putting out fires, you’ll use different fire-based weapons to destroy enemies. It’s a wacky idea, but it’s fine.

Arsonist Heaven Boss Battles

The problem is that everything Arsonist Heaven does feels much too limited. Stage designs are okay, but progression is mind-numbingly boring. Each stage tasks you with defeating a set number of enemies. All you have to do is scour the stages, find the enemies, and burn them down. That’s pretty much it.

Sure, you’ll find alternate weapons like fire shotguns, fire machine guns, and, well, a whole bunch of other fire-themed versions of guns, but the core gameplay loop is never satisfying. At just about two hours and featuring twenty levels, Arsonist Heaven isn’t overly lengthy, but it still feels like it overstays its welcome due to how uninteresting the whole thing is. It’s not even that the game is necessarily terrible — it’s just a drag the whole way through.

Even the boss battles, which give the impression of something substantial at first, can be easily cheated through. One end-level enemy was kicking my butt pretty badly, and then I realized I could stand on a platform right in front of the boss and just spam attack it. What was the boss doing during all of this? The big, monstrous creature was… just standing there and taking it.

The Cool Pixel Art Can’t Save This Game

Arsonist Heaven Gameplay

Easily the best aspect of Arsonist Heaven is its visual design. The game’s pixel art is solid, it features some good enemy designs, and it offers up overall mostly great retro-looking set pieces. Still, that’s not enough to save the game from mediocrity. Maybe I’ll look for something that looks similar but plays much better to get my retro-styled gaming fix, because it’s kind of disappointing that this game’s art style is actually pretty nice-looking.

It’s a bummer when you really want to like something but just can’t due to lackluster design. Arsonist Heaven could’ve been much better, but instead it feels like the start of something promising. It never evolves past its core concepts, and it just delivers a ho-hum experience that isn’t worth the effort or time. It almost feels like a Flash game from a bygone era that could’ve eventually been developed into something cool, but sadly, there’s nothing worthwhile here. This is about as hard of a pass as you can get.

Score: 3 out of 10

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