Like many other games lurking on Steam’s marketplace, Kill It With Fire hopes to entice prospective buyers with a novel premise or an appeal to humor. The elevator pitch is that players are tasked with eliminating a number of spiders across a selection of levels, making use of an ever-expanding arsenal. While playing, it feels like it was purpose-built for trade shows or for attracting attention in the shortest time frame possible. Unfortunately, the experience never digs any deeper, offering a bland playthrough that uses dubious game design to stretch the basic premise thin. All of its thrills hang on the player bringing in a pre-existing, crippling aversion to spiders. In the absence of such a condition, it comes off like little more than a demo.
Simple look, simple design
Kill It With Fire works like most conventional first-person shooters. You have weapons and a target. Progression is tied directly to how many spiders you kill, though equipment upgrades offer the chance to mix up the action in inconsequential ways. Your job as a bumbling exterminator carries across nine levels, including suburban homes, an office, a single stall farmer’s market, and the like.
Your arsenal starts with a single clipboard that does double duty as your quest log. Your spider-dispatching armory will grow to include other items like firearms, Molotov cocktails, throwing stars, and more. Some of these weapons are only accessible if you are willing to exhaust each level of its objectives or by completing timed challenges.
It’s easy enough to smash each of the spider types you’ll encounter, though some varieties may take multiple swats. Guns are available but are much tougher to use and don’t feel rewarding for the additional aiming challenge they present. It really doesn’t matter what you use to kill the spiders (unless you want to engage an optional objective requiring a specific weapon) because the deaths all look and act the same whether you use a frying pan or double-barrel shotgun.
The opening level’s challenge trial is an exercise in frustration as you must hit six spiders with six straight revolver shots. Normally, this would be no problem, except the spiders are barely larger than the pixel-wide aiming reticle and the gun firing seems to have random delays that make timing incredibly tough to nail down (which makes hitting high-speed spiders tougher). Sometimes the guns or other weapons don’t fire at all when you click the mouse, further adding to the frustration.
Should you hate yourself enough to completely clear all of a given level’s objectives, you’ll quickly gain access to equipment that can be purchased with points in between levels. Rather than offering variety in gameplay, these equipment boosts simply restore common first-person game functionality. Specifically, there is a set of pants that allow you to bind weapons from keys 1-9 rather than 1-5. Another equipment upgrade allows you to sprint with the shift key. You’ll also find circuit boards that offer upgrades for a spider-finding gadget, but these upgrades are equally useless. One upgrade shows the number of spiders remaining and another reveals the type of spider. This might be helpful except there is no difference in how you approach the different types or how they are killed, so the mechanics for these upgrades just come off as filler.
The levels themselves are equally uninspiring. All you get are small, simple locations that offer no differences in gameplay. One level was in an Asian-style hedge maze that I did not realize was even a hedge maze until ten minutes had passed as the hedges were simply flat green rectangular blocks that I mistook for plain green walls. Some levels have puzzle objectives, though I use the word puzzle in the absolute simplest of terms. Most are basic shape matching items that are lying by your feet while others require you to find statuettes that are hidden in a space occupying about 25 square feet. They are nothing more than time-wasters that further pad out the incredibly thin playthrough.
I wish the spiders would have killed me
I will give Kill It With Fire credit for running smoothly on my PC and being a bug-free (groan) experience from the start to finish of its uncommonly short run time. The one fear-inducing music cue it uses repeatedly was worth a half-chuckle the first time I heard it, so I will give credit there. I don’t feel like there is anything here I can recommend to players unless they are deathly afraid of spiders or want to fake scream for a livestream show or two. The spiders can’t even hurt you, so the stakes here are literally zero for those not already stricken with bug phobia. 3/10 cans of Raid
This review is based on the PC Steam release. The game key was provided by the publisher for review consideration. Kill It With Fire is available on Steam for $14.99.
Kill It With Fire
- The game runs fine on modest PC hardware
- No bugs or crashes
- Uninspired design in levels and mechanics
- Spider types offer no real variety in gameplay
- Equipment upgrades are useless
- Not really funny or scary
- The campaign is stretched with low-quality objectives
Chris Jarrard posted a new article, Kill It With Fire review: Apathy by arachnid