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Horror game "Fireworks" review: Narrative is more "amazing" than horror

The game is developed by Shi Ying Studio and published by Gamera Game. Shi Ying Studio’s previous representative work “Black Forest Town Fantasy” is a Japanese fantasy horror puzzle game, released on Steam, with a high praise rate of 98%; and publisher Gamera Game has previously launched well-known domestic horror games such as “Paper Man” and ” Hong Kong Strange Record “.

The Legend of Heisen Town

With such a strong combination (limited to horror games) configuration, “Fireworks” is definitely a bit scary for me, who is not good at horror games. I am even mentally prepared for the “social death” of screaming in the company.

However, the whole game experience is different from what I expected. The feeling brought to me by “Fireworks” can only be described as “wonderful”. It contains the following emotions – “the peace of mind and slight disappointment of being prepared but not scared many times”; “the shock of being convinced by imaginative narrative techniques”; “the impressive theme, but also some slightly complicated regrets”.

A horror game that is not scary

Due to well-known reasons, how domestic horror games deal with the “root cause of horror” has always been my most curious concern.

The game background of ” Fireworks ” is set in a small mountain town around 2004. An accidental fire at a funeral involves a family massacre that has already been closed, and players have to play a newbie police officer Lin Lixun. Investigate this massacre case again by chance.

The game has many Easter eggs that are in line with the times

So you will find that coincidentally, the police uncles received a report in the middle of the night; coincidentally, the car broke down and you had to go investigate alone; coincidentally, you didn’t even bring a flashlight and could only use a “nuclear candle” to illuminate a little distance…

Horror games are all like this, so don’t pay attention to so many details

In fact, the protagonist we control, Lin Lixun, is a person with “unique skills”. Due to his strong yin energy, he can have conversations with the deceased and see the truth of the past through (with a little bit of horror seasoning) illusions. Most of the horror elements in “Fireworks” are created through this half-real and half-false “pretentious mystery”.

Through Lin Lixun’s ability, the game cleverly (and directly) avoids the question of “whether there are ghosts or not” that directly hits the soul of domestic horror themes. However, it also causes players to have the illusion of “watching an episode of” Today’s Law “after discovering the truth of the ending story.

The scene pictures in the game are very exquisite

In the game process, you can see all kinds of horror elements full of “local flavor”, whether it is paper people used for funerals, dark red lights to create atmosphere, or nostalgic watercolor painting style. It is completely different from the European and American style of “slapping bloody monsters on your face”. “Fireworks” is close to the actual life of Chinese local players (in the previous era), while emphasizing a gloomy “psychological fear”.

As the producer stated in the page introduction – “The game pursues the subtlety of Eastern horror. There are no horror pictures close to the face, and even few ghostly figures, but the bone-chilling coolness will follow you like a shadow.”

In fact, the horror atmosphere in the early and middle stages of the game is very strong, but it is only limited to the point of “keeping you nervous without really startling you”, specifically manifested in – There are many times when I open a door/lift a lid/put in a prop, and immediately take off my headphones to prepare for the “surprise mother f ** ker” that jumps out, but the result is not…

This kind of mood is like when the female lead in Lifan is about to be xx, but she finds that Huang Mao is actually not interested in herself , and at the same time, she will inevitably feel a little lost (Jojo’s magical metaphor).

The “weak horror and heavy suspense” characteristics of “Fireworks” make it difficult for me to judge whether it is an advantage or a disadvantage, because for players who come with the purpose of “wanting to be scared”, this work is probably difficult to satisfy their wishes. On the other hand, the horror atmosphere of the game “stops at the right moment” is not enough to discourage “horror game novice” players like me, so from a personal perspective, it is quite acceptable.

A “suspense drama” with amazing narrative techniques.

Similar to the studio’s previous works, “Fireworks” focuses more on the description and characterization of the story plot (especially the protagonist is a police officer) than “the adrenaline rush brought by horror”. This leads to it being more of a suspense puzzle detective drama “with horror elements” than a simple horror game.

Familiar “hacker” operations

Compared to playing hide-and-seek with “monsters chasing you with knives”, the more common process in “Fireworks” is to place players in small levels of puzzle-solving, and even have small game segments such as “water pipe connection” and “Huarong Road”. After completing the puzzle, players will obtain some leads to the truth of the case and use them to advance the story.

In terms of puzzle design, most of the puzzles are of moderate difficulty, neither too difficult to pass the level nor giving players the feeling of “insulting intelligence”. The entire game experience is seamless in terms of rhythm.

Actually, what surprised me the most was that the reason why “Fireworks” made me exclaim throughout the entire process was not because it was a terrifying horror game, but because I was impressed by its imaginative narrative techniques.

1. Use vivid concreteness to embody abstract emotions.

In a certain process, the story will explore the truth of the massacre from the perspective of a primary school student named “Fangfang”.

Due to the death of his father, his grandparents were unable to extricate themselves from feudal superstition and hoped to see their son again through the “possession of a shaman”, thus spending a lot of money and energy on it. The sudden changes in the family and the harsh treatment of the teacher made Fangfang’s life full of suppressed emotions.

At this point, the player will turn into a swimming tadpole, and the “pond” we swim in is Fangfang’s “Chinese textbook – Tadpole Looking for Mother”. As we move forward, we see the childish graffiti she drew in the textbook, which is surrounded by “frogs, candles, and ingots”. In fact, it shows her confusion about “family superstition about witch possession”. Tadpoles can only swim in the narrow river channel, which represents Fangfang’s shackles in a closed and conservative family.

After encountering Mr. Chen who teaches well, the player’s swimming place becomes a serious exercise book. As the tadpole moves forward, the words that describe Fangfang’s state of mind will also change into colorful origami stars, emitting beautiful sounds.

Finally, the tadpole transforms into a bird flying freely in the sky, and the color of the picture instantly becomes bright and open. Under the mutual contrast between the two, the psychological shadow caused by Fangfang’s family environment is vividly reflected in the emotional turning point that is resolved under Mr. Chen’s careful guidance.

2. The perspective transition with explosive design sense

There are a lot of “perspective switches” in the game process of “Fireworks”, in order to experience the stories of different characters and seek the truth of events. What is commendable is that each switch is full of design sense, leaving a deep impression.

In a certain plot, the player’s original perspective was “the daughter-in-law in the family massacre”. They listened to their parents’ arrangement to add fire to the stove steaming fish. However, as they kept adding fire, their perspective slowly shifted from the stove to the police officer Lin Lixun “in the fire”.

With the continuous increase of the fire, players finally discovered that the original “furnace fire” had somehow turned into the karmic fire in hell, and Lin Lixun was precisely in the middle of hell.

At this point, our control role has also changed from the original daughter-in-law to Lin Lixun. Continuing to explore, players will find the “dead husband” lying on the execution rack. In fact, he has always been here and has never been to the human world for the so-called “possession”.

This scene’s perspective transition is not only smooth and natural in the transition of perspective, revealing the disguise of “possession of the dead”, but also through the form of “furnace fire” symbolizing “hell karma fire”, showing the irony of the Tian family’s hope of possessing their son, which actually harms the living and desecrates the dead.

Although it may be a bit like “reading comprehension”, if you can experience the plot of the game with your heart, the narrative techniques of “Fireworks” will definitely make you exclaim “awesome”.

The main idea is good, but a bit “overeating”.

Compared to the most outstanding narrative part of the game, the plot of this work itself is somewhat conventional. On the one hand, the truth of the story at the end can be said to be “natural” and did not bring me any unexpected developments.

On the other hand, more importantly, For a game with a process of only 3 or 4 hours and a focus on suspense narrative techniques, the “intention” of this story is a bit too rich, but it is “too greedy to chew”.

In addition to the core “anti-closure and anti-superstition” of the game, the story also includes keywords such as “the honor pressure of the older generation”, “teacher-student relationship”, and even “the Infernal Affairs”. However, for the scale of the game, it really has no spare energy to depict these plots, and can only be developed in the form of occasional one or two sentences.

For example, during the tense and exciting paranormal investigation, the protagonist Lin Lixun, who always wears a poker face, suddenly reflects: “Am I investigating this case to give justice to the deceased? Or do I want to take the opportunity to investigate a major case and gain more honor?”

To be honest, I was a bit confused when I saw this scene. It’s like when you’re having fun with your “craft”, but suddenly a “gourd doll” is inserted in the video. Do you care what the gourd doll says? No, you just want to skip it quickly.

In the end, these “sub-themes” became redundant and even affected the immersion of the core theme, making it somewhat redundant.


Although “Fireworks” is not a comprehensive work, some operations are a bit stiff, especially in terms of the main story, which is a bit cumbersome. However, its horror atmosphere that fits the local flavor, and the narrative techniques full of design sense and imagination, once again made me feel the charm of “domestic independent games”.

Therefore, I personally recommend that all players who like Chinese horror and value the plot (and are not too timid) can come and try this high-quality work.

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