Games are about action, but usually that action is put to good use, no matter how self-serving it may be. Need to kill a million aliens to save the world? Annihilate a few thousand human soldiers to end the war? Even taking out endless waves of cops and other random citizens during a bank heist or other criminal endeavor is usually justified with some level of self preservation. Sometimes, though, you just want to watch the world burn.
Wildfire Worlds is a game that’s going to be about tearing everything down. It’s a lovely day in the city, with swarms of people going from place to place, policemen keeping the town safe, and repairmen making sure anything broken gets put back together. Then you plop down a single angry agitator, and everything goes to hell.
There’s not much you can do with a single guy other than get beaten to a pulp by the police. One man can make a difference, but he’s got to avoid picking his teeth (and possibly limbs) out of the gutter to do it. Your going to need friends, and that means converting the masses to your cause. Touch another person and they’ll change to your side, but they tend to run away from the crazy and violent so it takes some planning. Once you get a couple of guys under your command, however, it’s time to start shaking the city to its foundation. The rioters can either be directed or left to their own devices, and once you’ve got a couple dozen it’s not a bad idea to let a few run off and get up to random mischief. They’re not as effective by themselves, as they gain both strength and speed in a larger group, but the AI from a handful of loose cannons can be very helpful in overrunning civilians you might otherwise have missed.
Once you’ve got a chaotically large rioting mob, however, it’s time to start taking down buildings. This usually results in people running out of the ruins to be converted into yet more rioters, assuming they didn’t go splat when jumping out of the higher windows, creating a lovely feedback loop of destruction. Destroy buildings, get more rioters, destroy larger buildings, watch the mayhem unfold. Cause enough damage and you open up fire, which is a limited resource that lets you draw lines of flame across the landscape. The firemen are annoyingly capable of putting it out, but a little careful planning can turn an inferno into a handy ambush. Or you can set your mob on fire, the game won’t judge you. In the current alpha build fire is only available on one level, but it already adds another excellent level of mayhem to the already-plentiful chaos. It’s ridiculously fun to set the papercraft levels ablaze.
The edge of the horrific violence perpetrated by the mob is mostly removed thanks to Wildfire World‘s adorable art style. The entire game looks like it’s made of folded paper, from the tallest buildings to the little cardboard rectangles that make up the people, and even the ultra-stylized squirrels running through the overgrown ruins after the city is eradicated. Playing Wildfire Worlds feels like being a child pretending to destroy a city, playing at violence with toys that will never quite be the same again once the session is over. Sure, you’ve destroyed a city, tracked down and converted or killed hundreds of people, wiped out schools, police, and firemen, and caused billions in damage, but it’s all with a sense of good fun.
The current alpha is still very early, with one London-ish city presented in three ways plus a tiny little sandbox for testing out the gameplay mechanics. More cities are on the way, including 1930s Chicago, and new gameplay mechanics are being tested and slotted into place with help from the community. How Wildfire Worlds expands into its final form is going to be heavily influenced by player input, but the core mechanics already make for a fun, adorable, and funny way to utterly demolish civilization as we know it.