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Burnstar Review: Arsonists

/ Jul 19th, 2018 No Comments

Burnstar Review

Who doesn’t like to burn stuff? No one.

Humankind’s greatest invention is fire. As kids, we become fascinated with watching things burn and stuff explode. It is a primal feeling that we never shake. In video games, there is something pure and satisfying about explosions.

Burnstar capitalizes on these feelings by delivering complex puzzle gameplay centered around burning things and exploding stuff. It also has a strong story to keep you invested beyond the puzzles.

Burn Stuff, Collect Stars!

“Burn stuff, collect stars” is the motto of Burnstar. It is simple, effective and cuts straight to the point. In Burnstar, your goal is to burn items ranging from flammable goo to giant explosive boxes, then collect the stars that result from burning those items. It is as simple as that, yet couldn’t be more complicated.

In Burnstar, you can choose from four different characters: Burnstar, Ember, Coldsnap and Toxo. Each of them have their own unique powers that can help in their quest to burn stuff and collect stars. Burnstar has a dash that allows you to avoid damage and not waste time; Ember has a damage shield that protects you from harm and sucks in stars; Coldsnap can freeze objects to stop them in their tracks; and Toxo has an ability to make a sludge clone that he can return to or use as a decoy.


The drawback to the powers is they are mostly preferential. Every level can be finished using any character. This makes the powers seem superficial, except for the fact that specific powers and characters come in handy when aiming for the gold.

Certain powers are more suited to get a high score — Burnstar’s dash allows you to shave seconds off your time, while Coldsnap’s freezing ability allows you to create a shortcut. If you want to get high scores, using powers best suited to a level is your best bet.

Burnstar has a ton of levels split up between four areas: The Forest, The Mines, The Lab and Bonus Levels. To complete a level, you need to burn a high percentage of stuff and collect a certain percentage of stars.

What is nice about Burnstar is its pacing. You start out with easier levels to learn how mechanics work — such as how big boxes explode for three squares, toxic goo is flammable and exploding in a line can ignite some boxes. The deeper you get into each area, the more dangerous moving objects and roadblocks you encounter. Puzzles also become tougher, forcing you to think about a level in more complex ways, especially if you want to get a high score.

Burnstar Review

Burnstar’s puzzles get progressively harder the deeper you get into the game.

Bonus Levels are where you put your skills to the limit as they require a ton of thought. They are tough and often seem impossible at first. Knowing what special skills work best for these unique challenges helps you out greatly.

You can take on these challenges at any time. The cool thing about the level breakdown is you can attempt any area from the first level whenever you want, but you should probably go in order to learn the basics. Crawl before you run.

Burnstar’s gameplay can seem similar to Bomberman because of how bombs function in each game, but their end goals are far different. Burnstar is far more puzzle oriented as each level is more about strategizing how best to collect all the stars before passing onto the next level. It isn’t so much about blowing up boxes but how best to burn everything with your limited ammunition. Knowing how each element reacts to your bombs and missles and how those explosions will trigger further explosions is the key to Burnstar.

Burnstar Review

Burnstar has a dark past…

Burnstar has a narrative sparsely spread out through its different areas and levels. It is simple: they must burn stuff and collect stars. Yet, it becomes much more complicated than that pretty early on when Evil Toxo shows up. He has an ax to grind with Burnstar and his compatriots. While it seems like traditional bad guy stuff at first, you learn Burnstar did some foul things to Evil Toxo when a controlled burn went sideways. Now, Burnstar and allies must stop Evil Toxo, but it won’t be easy.

Burnstar Review

Burnstar’s story strikes a balance between goofy and serious.

The story and characters have more depth in such a short time than some RPGs do over 60 hours of gameplay. While there is a lot of quirkiness and goofiness in Burnstar’s and his colleagues’ dialogue, it only adds to the style of the game. When it is time to get serious, the characters cut through the goofiness and deliver realness.

Evil Inc., with his motive and relationship, is a more believable villain than in most media. Burnstar accomplishes a lot of complex story beats with very little dialogue. It’s impressive.


Burnstar is a fun puzzle game that bursts with style. It has plenty of levels to dig through as you learn how best to burn stuff and collect stars. Surprisingly, it also has a good story complete with complex relatonships and strong characterization.

Burnstar was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developer.

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Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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Gaming Illustrated RATING



What seems like Bomberman on the surface is anything but. Burnstar is much more of a puzzle game that happens to have bombs. As a puzzle game it is challenging and a lot of fun.


Burnstar has a cool aesthetic with great character designs, and solid level design.


Burnstar has a fun soundtrack to match its goofy tone.


Burnstar's story is to the point, but packs a lot of complexity in such a short space.

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