Fighting fires is a dangerous business, so the idea of sending in robots to do the work instead is definitely an appealing one. But for some reason someone thought one robot would be enough, which is where you find yourself in Inferno, a puzzle/platform game where keeping the fire at bay is a matter of speed, guile, planing... and coins.
Inferno controls quite easily: you use the [WASD] keys (or directional [arrows] if you are left-handed) to move the little robot and your mouse to aim his water spray. The objective is to stop all the fires on a level, with the secondary aim to grab the coins. Coins are important, because they let you upgrade your abilities: speed, health, tank capacity and jet power. You will need all of these, because fire is one nasty piece of work.
"It's a living thing, Brian. It breathes, it eats, and it hates. The only way to beat it is to think like it." So said Robert De Niro's character Donald Rimgale in the 1991 movie Backdraft. Honestly, it's as if he played this game too! The puzzle part of Inferno is keeping the fire under control, which is not easy given fire's habit of spreading. Each square that catches alight has three stages; one to three flames. The more flames, the more water you need. The fire also spreads to surrounding blocks and left long enough will damage the block completely. This can disable ladders, make areas inaccessible and even bring the roof down (spreading more flames to whatever it ands on).
Some blocks are more flammable than others. Books and hay will light up far more happily than wooden walls, but its the volatile substances that are the bane of our little robot's job. Oil drums will explode, spreading flames over a random radius. Fireworks boxes turn into flame-raining mortar positions. And nuclear waste... well, just keep the flames away from those (actually they are not much more volatile than oil; fireworks - now those are a nightmare).
Analysis: The challenge in Inferno is figuring out how to contain a fire and eventually extinguish it. Keeping flames away from volatile substances is the obvious route, but some levels will expect you to focus more on containment than immediate avoidance. Your water can run out and an out-of-control blaze will soon become impossible to stop if you don't manage your water use or stage time refills. If that is not enough, you need those coins. There is no other way to upgrade and advancing your gear is vital if you intend to keep the house from burning down.
Inferno isn't perfect. The control system is a bit stiff, which doesn't blend well with such a high-pressure theme, and if you reload the game you can access the levels you have unlocked, but you lose all your upgrades. Also, you can't actually lose (unless you die). Letting a fire burn out on its own just costs you score, not the level. Yet despite these setbacks it's addictive and extremely satisfying when you beat back a wall of flames. As fun as it is frustrating, Inferno spreads itself over more than a dozen pyro-induced interesting levels. Give it a bash - you'll find the robotic firefighter in you yet. Who knows? There might even be a kitten rescue or two in your future.