Burning Ravager

A game by Sinclair Strange for PC, originally released in 2021.
Burning Ravager is an action platformer with metroidvania elements. You take on the role of a cute bipedal mech that is dropped onto the surface of a planet to locate six gems. The mech has a wide array of weapons and upgrades at its disposal, but each upgrade increases the amount of heat it generates, potentially causing it to become unstable and explode.
At the start of the game, you have 500 credits to spend, which is enough money to buy one or two upgrades. For a first outing, the cooling unit is a good buy, as it automatically cools the mech when it takes damage. This offsets future upgrades and provides regenerative healing since the mech’s heat meter doubles as its health bar. More aggressive players may want to purchase a projectile weapon instead, since the mech’s default weapon is a weak energy sword. Projectile weapons include a spread shot, laser, rocket, bouncing projectiles, and a rapid fire napalm weapon. Each weapon generates a different amount of heat.
Ultimately, exploration is the focus here, as each of the six gems is spread across a wide area beneath the planet’s surface. You begin each mission the same way… you are warped to the surface of the planet and must make your way downward. With your default abilities and 3.5x jump, you’ll find the path to the right blocked by a high wall, and the path to the left takes you to a dead end. This leaves only a narrow shaft to drop down into, with no apparent way of getting back up.
Enemies are fairly simple and don’t pose a tremendous threat, at least until you reach the planet's lower strata. These creatures tend to have simple movement patterns, with a few able to toss projectiles, and they are occasionally intermixed with falling rock hazards, spike pits, crumbling blocks, electricity emitters, and conveyor belts. Notably, enemies respawn when scrolled off the screen and back on, leading to scenarios where players may need to face the same enemy more than once if they retreat too far. Enemies sometimes drop currency – which can be used in the shop between runs – but farming for money isn’t necessary as players will eventually have enough to fully equip the mech by simply completing the game's primary objective.
Small gems may also be found here and there, often tucked behind false walls, and these are worth 10 credits each. It’s worth hunting for secret passages in the early going so you can more quickly purchase upgrades. Retro gamers with a keen eye may find some of these passages on their own, but there’s also a flashlight upgrade that reveals hidden passages.
As you make your way through the world, a map is generated, displaying any rooms that you have already visited, with indicators showing exit points and gems. The map is reset each time you teleport off the planet, and any credits you earned to that point are banked for use in the shop. One of the mech’s upgrades is an automapper that shows the entire map, including every exit point and every gem, but this upgrade generates a high level of heat. As such, its use is meant for later in the game when the player has purchased multiple cooling tanks and collected some of the six gems. Alternatively, players may equip this upgrade, check the map, and then unequip it to cool off… in a nice touch, the mech doesn’t immediately explode when it reaches maximum heat, giving players some time to adjust their loadout to reduce heat generation.
Once one of the six gems is collected, the area becomes unstable and a countdown timer is displayed. Players have a short amount of time to get to an exit teleporter before they are killed by the explosion. Furthermore, escaping is risky as players are encouraged to move quickly through the area, and possibly through unexplored territory, avoiding enemies and traps along the way (or at least minimizing damage). These gems have a high monetry value – and are turned into money bags when encountered on future runs – allowing players to make more purchases at the store to better equip themselves for the next run.
Environmental navigation upgrades include faster movement, a triple jump, and a dash maneuver that works on the ground and in the air, while also granting temporary invincibility. At the outset, players will only be able to install one of these upgrades at a time, which is done via the pause menu. Later, with more currency earned and more cooling tanks to offset the heat, players may purchase the “agilomatic” which combines the speed boost, triple jump, and dash into a single multi-use upgrade. However, it’s worth noting that only the triple jump upgrade is required to complete the game.
Some other defensive upgrades are available as well, with the tradeoff being that players must uninstall other functions to enable them. For instance, players may negate damage from falling objects or projectiles, but they won’t be able to use the mapping feature or secret-finding flashlight. Similarly, players may opt to equip a pair of spinning orbs that damage enemies, lengthen their heat meter, or decrease heat damage from enemies, but equipping any of these means giving up the cooling unit that automatically cools the mech over time… still, these upgrades could come in handy when making that mad dash to the exit after a gem is collected.
The visuals are simple and feature 4-color sprites (with one color being the transparent background), per NES conventions, and the game features pause-and-scroll screen transitions like the Mega Man series. The chunky sprites come in multiple flavors as the player moves deeper into the planet. The upbeat soundtrack is fitting for the game’s retro style. It’s worth noting that there is no save feature, so the entire game must be completed in a single sitting, which should be no issue for experienced retro gamers.

Burning Ravager was developed by Sinclair Strange, a developer based in the UK. The studio previously released Running VoltGun, Jet Gunner, and Crypt Stalker. The original version of the game was made for Ludum Dare 49, with a theme of “unstable”, but a modified version was later released with minor updates.