The Last Campfire was an Indie title developed by Hello Games, the company also behind No Man’s Sky! Released on the 27th August 2020, it is available on all major platforms. Personally I played it on Nintendo Switch!
So without any further ado here is my little Indie Watch for The Last Campfire!
What’s the message?
You are Ember, a little lost soul that is trying to make your way to the end of your journey. The problem is there isn’t a straight path to get there, as well as plenty of others that are lost. On your journey you will come across some, you guessed it, campfires. You know, like the name of the game!
These campfires reveal an apparition to Ember who lets you know about how you can continue your journey. You are basically given the choice to tell him that you want to just move on or help others. Whilst exploring each area thoroughly you will come across many Forlorn.
The Forlorn are travellers exactly like Ember only they’ve given up and turned to stone. Losing their fire after they were unable to go on. It’s your mission, should you choose to accept it, to venture inside them and unlock their little spark. Leading then to each of the campfires so that they too can continue their journey.
Walking, mostly walking. Then some more walking and in between that there’s some puzzles!
There are a couple helpful tools that you can pick up along the way too. Most importantly is Link’s magnet power, oops, I mean the horn that moves things… To be fair, this is a cool power and surprisingly ups the puzzle diversity and difficulty quite nicely.
As I said, there’s quite a lot of walking and puzzling and that’s fine honestly. None of the puzzles are unbearable and there really is a decent amount of variety in the solutions. Some involve moving blocks onto switches, others have you avoiding gusts of wind to save a flame.
All of it is engaging, fun, and never gets tiring. Now I know that it’s a short game so there’s less of a chance of getting tired and that’s a fair point. What I will say is that I think these kinds of puzzles and the way they are presented are such that longer wouldn’t be an issue. Unlike a lot of other games of this ilk, I think The Last Campfire does a better job overall with their selection of puzzles. Not to mention that the puzzles mean something here, you’re saving “people” every time.
What do I like so much?
Well the obvious thing is the art style. My god The Last Campfire is gorgeous! From little Ember’s design, to the vibrant worlds, and even the robot snake. It all looks incredible! The art direction in this game is phenomenal.
The second thing that I really liked was the narration. This covers both the actual narration and also all dialogue. I believe it was all just a single persona voicing everything and I really enjoyed it. It evoked a specific feeling for me, the feeling of a mother reading a bedtime story.
This is definitely subjective but in this case, the length is a positive for me. It took me less than 7 hours to finish up my adventure. If, like me, you’re doing nothing else, this will just take up your evening. There are few things I like more than just engrossing myself in a story for an evening. So the Last Campfire was absolutely perfect for this.
Well I played it on the Switch which isn’t known for being a powerhouse, so yes, there were quite a few frame tanks and one full game crash. Luckily the freezing was very temporary, it was just quite frequent.
That being said, I still think the Switch is the best place to play Indies and JRPGs like this. It didn’t ruin my experience with The Last Campfire, it was just an annoyance.
What does it all mean?
In the end, The Last Campfire was a wonderful experience. It was a lovely little puzzle game with some incredibly cute art. I’m not the best source for looking deeper and finding hidden meanings at the best of times. I think I paid more attention to this in The Last Campfire when compared to many other games.
It might be considered a little on the nose but it’s a tale of perseverance and good deeds. All the way through you are trying to save a bunch of Forlorn, ones that have given up entirely. Having turned to stone after giving up, bringing them out of their literal shell is the goal. Ember is constantly helping others, making sure that everyone has the chance to reach the goal. Along with Ember themselves never choosing to stop and give up, constantly pushing forward.
Whether it’s the best representation of a message like this, I don’t know, but it hits the point. If a dunce like me can even get some inspiration then Hello Games have done something right. If you’re into cute little indie puzzlers The Last Campfire might be a must play.
The Last Campfire – Indie Watch.
Written by Kyle Munn.