The indie game developer, Hello Games, surprised us all when they released the Last Campfire on the Nintendo Switch store earlier this week. This company is known for their other games like No Man’s Sky and Joe Danger the former being the most notorious of the lot. While the drama around No Man’s Sky may have over-shadowed the company for some time, it is unlikely there will be a similar fiasco with their latest game.
The Last Campfire is an adventure, puzzle, platformer game. These combinations make for an interesting experience as you embark on a journey to find the meaning of life. You play through this land as a tiny figure known as “Ember” while they seek to find their purpose and meaning. It’s an exciting occurrence helping someone figure out their purpose when it’s much more challenging to do it ourselves. Maybe that is the purpose of the game? In helping others, we may figure out what is best for ourselves.
“There are plenty of moments in The Last Campfire where you will be confronted with words of wisdom.”
The initial area of The Last Campfire is simple and straightforward with what is required of the player. It’s dreary and ominous, further compounding the feeling of being lost. It is aided by the soft voice of the narrator as she reads the text that appears on the screen. There is no sense of hope at this point. Ember is lost, and by extension, so are we.
We follow the path to outside where we interact with our first campfire in an area that is essentially the tutorial of the game. There is a lack of clear control and tips on how to do certain things. However, it doesn’t take away from the immersive experience.
It is clear in this tutorial area that you are pretty much on your own. There is minimal aid with each section and puzzle. Don’t go into this game expecting things to be obvious.
Within each location there are generally a handful of NPCs to interact with. They each offer their own flavour text voiced by the same narrator. One thing to keep note of is that sometimes the conversation changes depending on what you do, but they don’t all change what they say. Some of these characters carry a sadness with them that they struggle to understand.
“Ember didn’t mind getting muddy; the slide was such fun.”
This is why you’re here, to help them find hope. You’ll notice when helping some gather their flame, they will seem more lively than before. This is a sign that you are helping.
There are plenty of moments in The Last Campfire where you will be confronted with words of wisdom. It’s definitely a good idea to appreciate each one. Some moments may be more relevant than others. Each character will say a few words before you move on. They can be sad, others thankful, maybe even confused. They are grateful, nonetheless.
Once you have made your way through the numerous areas of the game, saving Forlon’s on the way, you will reach the Cave of Regret. You will have this sense of accomplishment. You may also have a sense of what happens now?
I found myself getting frustrated during this section. As I mentioned earlier, there is very minimal clear instructions/tips when it comes to what to do next. If you find yourself getting frustrated, take a break and look at it from a different angle. Some puzzles are easier to do than others, you’ll get a brain workout either way.
The Last Campfire is a captivating and thought-provoking experience. However, I experienced a handful of bugs that required me to quit the game, which meant that I lost some progress. These bugs often involved me getting launched onto places where I shouldn’t be and couldn’t get down. While they made me laugh initially, they quickly became annoying the more it happened.
“With smooth graphics and design, it definitely made for a pleasurable experience.”
It would have been better if some of the controls were more clear so you weren’t going into the difficult areas blind but it didn’t really cause too many issues. There aren’t many basic controls to remember so there shouldn’t be too many issues in that regard.
The puzzles themselves were all different with few solutions that were repeated. There were aspects from each puzzle that may help you with solving others but no two puzzles were exactly the same. It definitely still requires a level of thought into how to approach each one. Some puzzles interact with other puzzles in different areas. This was a unique feature that I hadn’t seen in too many other puzzle games.
With smooth graphics and design, it made for a pleasurable experience. It’s also nice when objects interact with the surrounding environment — a surefire way to win a player over. There is a fair use of colour with none being too out of place with the rest of the game.
The Last Campfire is a decent game, but the experience is too short. It also doesn’t offer any replayability, which is disappointing. When games don’t hold the same interest each time, it makes me less inclined to purchase them. This is unfortunate because more often than not, it is indie companies like Hello Games that create beautiful games but have little reason to replay them. I was expecting the game to be along the lines of the Rayman 2. Maybe that was the reason I was disappointed because I went in already comparing it to something else. Regardless of this, I would recommend The Last Campfire to people who want a relatively short but thought-provoking experience.