Whilst Hello Games might be best associated with magnificent adventures across space these days (and for a daring stunt motorbike rider if you look back a little further), their newest release takes a more intimate and mellow approach. The Last Campfire doesn’t offer a vast world to explore that’s full of action and dangers; instead, players get to experience a cute puzzling adventure that isn’t only wonderful in design but that also tells a touching tale along the way.
A lot of the narrative of The Last Campfire is left to the player to interpret, with the cute protagonist ember seemingly lost in the puzzle-filled world and trying to find their way to the safety of the titular last campfire, all whilst rescuing other embers along the way. You’ll share moments during your journey that represent sadder themes associated with loss (there’s one touching moment early on when you encounter one of your lost brethren that stuck with me throughout the entirety of the game), whilst it also showcases that any form of adversity can be overcome. It’s certainly an uplifting tale and whilst its ambiguity might lead players to believe it may be one of negative emotions to begin with, everything feels brighter and more uplifting by the time you reach the conclusion of its four-to-five hour journey.
The Last Campfire’s gameplay revolves around exploring a series of imaginative environments and solving puzzles, most of which are of the ‘block pushing’ variety but that introduce enough different mechanics to make them feel fresh throughout. There is no combat or enemies to worry about here, with puzzle-solving at the forefront of the adventure.
These puzzles are encountered by interacting with the ‘forlorn’, other embers who have seemingly succumbed to a loss of courage and that find themselves frozen in place. Complete the puzzle associated with them and they’ll move on to the nearest campfire, essentially helping forge a path for you to follow to progress. You can also expect to interact with a wide range of charming NPCs that further develop the story, whilst there’s a plethora of wonderful looking environments to explore along the way too.
Maybe just using the phrase ‘block pushing’ is underselling the many conundrums you’ll encounter in The Last Campfire a little bit, with each bringing an array of different mechanics for the player to figure out that ensure you’ll never do the same thing too often. You’ll even unlock a peculiar horn as you progress that allows you to interact with the world in a whole new way, adding an additional dynamic to the puzzle-solving that forces you to think outside of the box a bit more and focus on what is around you. There are other puzzles that just do things a bit differently too – it ensures that they all remain enjoyable throughout with plenty of new challenges to face as you progress further through the story.
Perhaps what The Last Campfire is guilty of within its puzzle design is a lack of originality, with its puzzles rarely offering anything that you wouldn’t have seen before in other video games over the years. Thankfully, the variety and mechanics that they introduce as you progress offers more than enough to make up for this, whilst any sense of familiarity is certainly overshadowed by the satisfaction you’ll get from actually solving each enigma.
The Last Campfire has a lovely visual style that looks clean and cutesy, with the sometimes desolate world brought to life with bright colours and remarkable sights. It offers a wonderful landscape to explore and it really compliments the easy-going vibe of the game perfectly. It all runs really smoothly in both the Switch’s docked and handheld modes too – there is the occasional hiccup when loading at times and the sound could have odd moments where it would seemingly cut out a little early, but it’s nothing too noticeable that deters from the experience. Add to that a wonderful soundtrack that always fits each scene perfectly and you’ll quickly find that The Last Campfire is enchantingly presented throughout.
The Last Campfire’s journey is one that’s both enchanting and touching, with its wonderful world and fun puzzles making for a memorable adventure throughout. There were a few oddities to encounter as far as performance is concerned and players might feel some sense of familiarity with the puzzle-design, but they’re minor issues in what is otherwise a creatively delightful experience.
Developer: Hello Games
Publisher: Hello Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC