Game: The Last Campfire
Genre: Indie, Adventure | Platformer | Puzzle
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam, PS4, Xbox One and Apple Arcade)
Developers | Publishers: Hello Games
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US E
Price: EU $14,99 | USD $14.99| UK £13.49
Release Date: August 27th 2020
Review code used, with many thanks to Hello Games
The Last Campfire is an adventure game from Hello Games, it is a story of a lost ember trapped in a puzzling place, searching for meaning and a way home.
You take on the role of Ember: a little hooded creature who sets out on an important journey. Ember has been separated from its companions and comes upon a fire and a statue. The statue speaks to Ember and explains that it must look for lost Embers (Ember is a name that refers to both the individual and collective) along the path and return them to the flame of one of several Last Campfires.
A Little Ember
These embers are the Forlorn, and have lost their way along the mysterious path. The Forlorn are so browbeaten by life that they have turned to stone. When Ember touches a Forlorn, Ember listens to their anxieties and fears. The screen then changes to a puzzle for Ember to work through to bring back a ray of hope to the Forlorn.
Though the story is fairly ambiguous, I got the feeling that it is dealing with worry, anxiety, regret, and touches on depression. However, as I said, it’s fairly ambiguous, so your take on the story could be different from mine.
The Last Campfire is narrated throughout in a Scandinavian-sounding accent. The narrative sets the tone of the game making it sound like your listening to a mystical fairy tale. The story drives you between different areas where you find items to advance the story, and can stumble upon small puzzles.
There are also touches of humour throughout which lifts the darker themed moments when talking to some of the Forlorn.
Reminiscent of Zelda Dungeons
The game reminds me of one large Zelda dungeon with little puzzles dotted throughout. The puzzles are pretty easy at the start of the game, but once you progress the challenge, as you would expect, goes up. Though I never came across a puzzle I couldn’t complete, but some may take longer to figure out.
Ember acquires a few special items in their bag, such as the Lanthorn: an item used to move blocks around in some of the puzzles.
The puzzles all have their own themes: from moving a block to a floor switch, or rotating a flame block to light nearby lanterns. Ember can be tasked with keeping a small flame lit through a maze of wind-generating hazards. The variety in the type of puzzles in The Last Campfire is impressive and it always offers something fresh to the player.
Ghost at the Campfire
A ghost is present at each campfire, they help by telling you how many forlorn remain in the area, as well as give you clues to find them. Most of the Forlorn that Ember finds want help, but there are other Forlorn who aren’t ready to accept any help. These Forlorn fit in with the theme of the game, and just like in real life, not everyone is willing to accept help along the way.
Visuals and Controls
Ember will traverse through different environments on their hunt for the last Forlorn. From the foggy forest to a soggy swamp, all the environments are beautifully detailed in their design. With glorious vibrant, and muted, colours in each area and detailed characters. The visuals are a real feast for the eyes. It all comes together to give a lovely, tranquil, and whimsical world for the player to explore.
The Last Campfire is controlled by the touchscreen, or the joy-cons, and both work equally well and smoothly.
There are a few frame rate stutters during gameplay, especially just before Ember touches a Forlorn, and it is more noticeable later in the game. It is not game-breaking by any means, and doesn’t affect the gameplay in any way, nor does it interfere with your enjoyment while playing The Last Campfire.
It was a pleasure to spend time with The Last Campfire: a world filled with charm and wonder. The details of the world, and the characters in it, play like an interactive storybook. Poignant and charming, The Last Campfire is an adventure puzzle game that developers Hello Games should be very proud of. It deserves a spot on everyone’s Nintendo Switch.
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up