Based on the childhood game “The Floor is Lava,” Hot Lava is a first-person parkour challenge game where you traverse various environments, like a classroom, gym and a playground with the twist that the floor is actually lava. Initially put to Steam’s Greenlight program in 2016, Klei hired the developer after the game became a bit of a hit, passing Greenlight in less than 2 days.
Inspired by Counterstrike: Global Offensive game mode “KZ Climb,” players can slide along walls to speed up and chain jumps together to bunny hop, but with Hot Lava, there are additional mechanics, such as the ability to grab ropes and handles to launch that bit further.
Another facet of the game, if you plan on getting top times, is the maintenance of momentum. As you jump around, if you can time your jumps properly, you will gain speed and your jump distance will increase, so with enough skill, you will be flying across the map. For many paths within the game, there is an easier, slower, path forward or a faster, riskier and more skilful way to complete the level. This gives more reason to repeat the same levels and it feels like you are outsmarting the course. This, in turn, raises the skill ceiling, as those who can truly manoeuvre their character will definitely destroy your time.
Similarly to KZ Climb, you can see other players completing the course, leading to a healthy bit of competition or a handy tutorial if you’re stuck (which I was… a lot), as well as a leaderboard where you can see your Steam friends’ times.
In the beta, there are 4 playable characters with seemingly no statistical difference, modeled as children’s toys. They are unlocked by completing objectives, such as not dying in a level. Other cosmetics are earned through “playsets”, which are Hot Lava‘s version of a loot crate. You cannot buy them with real money, and instead, earn them by simply playing the game. In these loot crates, you can acquire emotes, stickers that you can place on walls, a weapon that appears on your back, a trinket that sits on your hip, and hats.
Also of note is the lack of dialogue, and, instead, a heavier focus on the soundtrack. Each “zone” has a different vibe, from jazzy, upbeat sound in the tutorial to a heavy rock instrumental when you’re flying across the school, it’s got a SpeedRunners type of vibe if you’re familiar.
If you liked CS: GO KZ, or Mirrors Edge before it got all combatty, Hot Lava could be for you!
The beta is still accepting applicants here until March 17.