“There is the sense that if you stay at this point for too long, stop at this point of oblivion for a certain amount of time, you will just cease to exist.” – Irvine Welsh
The Last Campfire is a beautiful and endearing puzzle adventure that tells the story of a lost ember, trapped in a strange world, searching for a way to help fellow embers and, eventually, a way home.
Developer: Hello Games
Released: 7th October 2020
Price: £11.99 – £13.49
The narrative follows a little ember, lost and trapped in an unfamiliar world, a place between places, limbo? This world is full of embers, some of whom have lost hope and become forlorn, but they can be saved! The lost protagonist can rescue them, returning them to their former state on the way to finding a way home. To complicate matters, however, there is also a powerful bird king who wants them to stop giving the forlorn what he calls ‘false hope’ and to stay.
The narrative is told through the gameplay itself and via delightful well-written narration delivered in a comforting voice, almost with an air of innocence about it. This emphasises the endearing nature of the story and the charming characters and creatures the lost ember encounters.
The Last Campfire has three main sections, each with a set number of forlorn to save and a campfire to light. The see sections must be progressed through in order, forest, marsh, and caves, but the content within each section is not linear at all. Each forlorn must be found, often by solving puzzles including sokoban style, symbol matching, and many others. Upon reaching the forlorn another set of puzzles must be completed to retrieve its ember and restore them. The puzzles are highly varied and there is only light thematic repetition, meaning things stay interesting throughout.
There are some other small tasks available such as finding seeds for the cook and feeding an oversized piggy but this is infrequent. For collectors and completionists however there are a series of journal entries hidden throughout the world, these must be found and sometimes require puzzle-solving to reach.
The Last Campfire has a cute, and quite stunning 3D art style that uses vibrant colour palettes and dramatic lighting to create varied and atmospheric environments that really bring the story to life and enhance the gameplay. The music is equally varied but primarily consists of evocative, melodic tracks featuring piano and strings that work to connect the player to the emotive narrative and create a sense of immersion. This is further assisted by well-implemented ambient sound effects such as birds chirping.
The Last Campfire is a fantastic puzzle game that will take around 7-8 hours to complete. It boasts beautiful visuals with vibrant 3D art as well as an emotive and varied soundtrack both of which accentuate and complement the gameplay perfectly. The puzzles are satisfying and offer just enough challenge for the game to maintain a casual and relaxed feel overall. The way all aspects of the game, especially the narrative, come together so well is a definite highlight of the game and helps it to feel like a full, well-rounded experience. I thoroughly enjoyed this title and would highly recommend it to fans of puzzle games!
If you like emotional puzzle games, you may also enjoy:
The Almost Gone – Explore Intimate Dioramas in this Emotional Puzzle Game – Antivine – A Beautiful and Evocative Puzzle Platformer – Arise: A Simple Story – A Time Manipulation Puzzle-Platformer with Heart!