Developed by Casey Donnellan and published by tinyBuild, Kill It With Fire is a first-person comedy action game released on PC in August 2020. In Kill It With Fire you take the role of an exterminator tasked with dealing with a major spider invasion. Along the way, you’ll cause huge amounts of collateral damage and unlock a wide variety of weapons to knock the eight-legged freaks into next week across the game’s eight levels and challenging Arachno-Gauntlets.
STORY – KILL, BURN, REPEAT
Kill It With Fire does not have much of a story to it; there is little to give much context for the game’s events beyond just “There is an infestation. Deal with it”. That is not to say the game is lacking in any narrative at all however; it is told subtly in background details that hint to a larger conspiracy at play. These details, whilst sparely placed, do give the game a creepy edge; hidden files, mysterious logos, a strange mist floating around and conspicuously empty streets, it’s often rather unnerving. This is providing you keep an eye out for said details.
The game is a comedy at heart, however; the game’s scarier elements feel more like they are there for flavour rather than to outright scare the player. The humour never feels like it is trying too hard to be funny and it never undercuts the mood. It never gets too self-referential nor too memey beyond the title itself. Granted this is a game where you can use high explosives to kill spiders, so how funny you find it is a matter of taste.
I cannot fault Kill It With Fire for being too short on narrative, as it is clear that it wasn’t the developer’s main focus. Likewise, most people playing it will be doing so for the experience that it offers and its quirky situations more than they are looking for an epic narrative.
GAMEPLAY – BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE
The core gameplay of Kill it With Fire is undeniably fun. The game offers a fistful of cool and destructive weapons to use and abuse the spiders with. And as the game progresses you’ll unlock new items and upgrades to make you a more efficient killing machine, including but not limited to a flame-throwing aerosol can, remote explosives, and even a machine gun! To go through all the unlocks that you can find would ruin many of the surprises that the game has in store, as I feel that the meat of Kill It With Fire’s entertainment lies in experimentation and exploration.
One level the player will find themselves blasting away at the spiders using one of the game’s many firearms, the next setting deadly traps to take them out. And as none of the spiders have any real weapon resistances of which to speak of, you can go wild! In doing so you’ll leave a long trail of destruction in your wake and plenty of spiders who wished they had stayed in bed that morning.
The player is not penalised for the collateral damage that they leave behind. In fact, some side objectives actively encourage it! You can torch every square inch of the level if you so wish; smash everything, shoot it up if you really want to and at no point will you be punished for doing so. Which given how easy it is to trash a level, this is greatly welcomed but comes with its own problems.
Collateral damage can hinder progress with key side objective items easily getting lost in the carnage. While it’s not required to complete all the side objectives to advance to the next level, they must be completed to unlock each level’s Arachno-Gauntlet. And the Arachno-Gauntlets in turn must be completed to unlock the game’s final challenge.
THROWING DOWN THE ARCAHNO-GAUNTLET
Kill It With Fire‘s Arachno-Gauntlets are each level’s challenge mode and task you with killing spiders to a strict set of conditions. It is relatively standard stuff. However, the Arachno-Gauntlets can be downright unforgiving at times; many use the game’s firearms, which demand cat-like reflexes to even stand a chance of hitting anything.
With sufficient planning and some of the later levels’ upgrades, they are manageable. And as frustrating as they are, it’s never impossible nor unfair. At best, often being completed with whatever items are unlocked in that level. At worst, they need the entire level resetting or need you to reset your entire perks list. And whilst the perks you do unlock are fun and useful, resetting them can be a chore. You can’t just deactivate an active perk, you need to reset the entire list, and though not tedious is needlessly time-consuming. If you are struggling with them, thankfully we do have an Arachno-Gauntlet Guide to help.
Kill It With Fire as a whole is rather short. It can be easily completed within about four hours and that is with collecting everything and doing all the challenges; had the completion of the Arachno-Gauntlets not been compulsory then I’d likely have finished it in two to three hours at most. The game may never overstay its welcome, it does find itself not offering much in the way of replay value. At least nothing outside of goofing around and trying to unlock any remaining achievements. I do feel that the game’s short length makes what does happen in the game feel rather abrupt, with its final two levels feeling the shortest due to how little there is to see and do. So when the credits do roll it leaves an ending which, whilst zany, feels unsatisfying given just how soon into the play-through it appears.
GRAPHICS AND AUDIO – BUG SQUASHING MUSIC
Kill It With Fire’s graphics and art style are charming enough; it offers a clean, colourful, minimalist aesthetic similar to other indie games at the moment. That is not to say that the game is lacking in detail. It is able to convey enough of what it needs to at any given moment and helps to prevent spiders from becoming too hard to see. It is honestly pleasant to look at, though it is never stellar nor breath-taking.
The levels neatly replicate a number of common domestic environments with a clear path to advance through, with even the game’s maze level not feeling too maze-like. The levels are exactly as big as they ever need to be. Though some do feel far smaller than others, they are still rich enough in detail to be interesting.
Kill It With Fire comes in three distinct flavours; menu music is jaunty and jazzy and adds a nice triumphant flare whenever you do complete a level. Additionally, there is the music that plays during the levels, which has that cliched string instrument sound that you frequently hear in horror movies. This is often accompanied by a Friday The 13th style musical sting whenever a spider is around, which only adds to the creep factor. The game’s challenge music is suitably intense, adding to the stress of trying to complete the Arachno-Gauntlets; though it often overpowers key music cues.
There is honestly nothing really to fault with either the art style or the soundtrack; they both serve the game remarkably well even if neither elevate the game any higher.
Kill it with Fire was reviewed on PC.