The Last Campfire Review
An Aesthetic Casual Adventure
After the release of No Man's Sky, the developers at Hello Games took on a new project created in an enchanting world that takes place between optimism and hopelessness called The Last Campfire. Developed by Hello Games' Chris Symonds and Steven Burgess, who both previously worked on the Wii game LostWinds, among others. The Last Campfire is very similar to No Man's Sky in that it's about the search for something bigger, a goal; only this time you're not in a spaceship, but in a colorful beyond-life world.
Glowing embers on a puzzle journey
You almost feel like you're diving into a storybook - The Last Campfire is about a mysterious pilgrimage "to a place where the lost embers go when their light slowly fades," is how the fairy-like narrator's voice describes the premise. It is a small, incredibly uplifting game of grand gestures, beautiful puzzles in a relaxed melancholic atmosphere and a captivating world.
For all gamers wondering what to expect with "The Last Campfire", I went on a journey and searched for the last spark of hope for you - You can watch part of my gameplay... which I will provide as soon as I uploaded it. It shows plenty of scenes from the adventure, including some of the tricky puzzles that I personally took embarrassingly longer solving than I should have.
A last glimmer of hope - The Story / Gameplay
The Last Campfire begins the story where you, the player, is lost and held captive in a mysterious place; searching for meaning and a way home. You embody one of the lost creatures, or souls, called an Ember (already the game has you emotionally hooked somehow). You want to escort this cute sock-looking creature to the destination of their fateful journey at all cost. Your driving force are the sad remains of other Forlorn (Forlorns were also once Embers) that have lost all hope and now lie gray and lifeless upon the landscape. Your Ember remains silent throughout the game (I personally liked this kind of narration. It adds a certain mystery to the already deep gameplay).
As you approach lost Forlorns in the game world, you'll first learn a little about them through the unique voice of the narrator, Rachel August. This creates some audiobook flair. That, together with the cleverly used aesthetics and the cute art design, creates an immersive fantasy mood.
Next, you'll be magically transported (with an elegant transition) into an area with a puzzle to solve. I believe the puzzle symbolizes what the Forlorn feels. Here you clear short series of challenges by activating switches, turning levers, moving boxes, completing memory games, or figuring out the positioning of mechanical snake bodies (sounds more odd than it is)! Even though one would unlikely get stuck attempting the puzzles, every little win of progression felt very satisfying to me.
At the end of the puzzle level, you're awarded with a flame... A flame representing the frozen Forlorn's hope. With its hope restored then comes back to life and he/she joins you at a central campfire where saved souls gather. It also gets more in-depth and challenging here and there, especially towards the end, I was pondering quite a bit with the puzzles…...it was very entertaining (I hope) for my viewers on Stream though. As far as adventure games go, it's as straightforward as it gets. With each puzzle you feel like you've made a little progress with unlocking shortcuts to other areas. I gradually learned increasingly more about the emotional mythology of a world. But even away from the puzzle rooms, there's plenty to discover, solve, obstacles to overcome, and a bunch of heartwarming encounters.
Fairy tale flair for young and old
The Last Campfire attracts with its beautiful Graphics! A nicely stylized fantasy world that looks adequately old and mysterious. A clean user interface that invites you to complete each and every puzzle of the clearly distinguished structured areas in between.
The different environments are well-done and may leave you idling to soak in the athletics every now and then. I personally found the generous use of lighting remarkable in the game scenes. In fact, all the small details creating the whole picture is what hooked me in. Like a Magpie to shiny objects. Good impressions are important in game design and this game did well. From the falling of the leaves and dust all around to the sticky spiderwebs you could run through; There were wonderful colors in the atmosphere, the natural presentation of nature, and a daydream effect around the corners. The creativity of the realistic yet fantasy like Animals added in the game no spoilers! There is so much to mention, I hope you take a look for yourself! The game also runs smoothly at all times, which I would like to give the title a lot of credit for.
The Last Campfire also has another important aspect worth mentioning: the audiovisual presentation. The background music compliments the season, colors, and mood of your environment. There are a multitude of sound effects... water splashes, birds chirping, the small crackles of the fires. A lot of the time these coordinations go underappreciated! Of course, this hardly distracts you while puzzling. The whole thing is very relaxing and pleasant. The Music is not particularly obtrusive, blends into the mysterious world with its charming puzzles. It underlines the many emotional moments in the right places.
Unfortunately, The Last Campfire does have some technical hurdles in it's way still. At least as I've experienced on the Nintendo Switch platform. I've experienced moments leading me to restart the game a few times; such as being snared upon bridges and small platforms that had no escapable routes. Other glitches were definitely more fun and interesting though. Like the times I floated through certain walls/earth into escapable areas. It was a funny hiccup on Stream. I hope the locking bugs will get an update, but I believe bugs add a lot of personality to a game. Honestly, I sometimes get excited when I find some. Maybe they should be called unintentional features instead.
Conclusion - Comfortable, profound puzzling
It's not witchcraft what Hello Games' smallest team has put together an aesthetically fantastic game. It's a holiday trip that's equal parts familiar (the puzzles) and yet uniquely alien (the world). It keeps pushes forward with proven mechanics and motivating structure. There is a great lightness in The Last Campfire, despite the bittersweet subject matter, that you are happy to be carried away by. If you want to put your grey cells to work, The Last Campfire is made for you. It works both for a longer gaming session, but also just as well in small doses. The protagonists in the game, the Forlorn, are well written and bring human problems into the game without being overwhelming with them. Not only the visuals, but also the general presentation of the title and its characters, along with the calming flair, makes the game special. The end will give you feels, trust me!
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