The Last Campfire PS4 Review – In a world bogged down by endless open-world games and a multitude of heavy ‘AAA’ titles, it’s wholesome and refreshing to sit down and play a small, self-contained, indie title that tugs at your heartstrings. The Last Campfire, by Hello Games, is a lovely little package that does not cost you too much of your time, makes you use your brain and warms your soul. So, pull up a log, grab some snacks and warm yourself by the fire.
The Last Campfire PS4 Review
Lead The Lost to the Light
In the Last Campfire, you play as Ember, Ember has lost their way and is lost in the world between worlds. Even though it is not strictly mentioned and quite vague, to me at least it seems like these are souls trying to pass into the afterlife. Much like characters who hang around after death with unfinished business, they are stuck, hopeless and forlorn. During the course of the game, you rescue other Embers, lead them to the light of the campfire and revive hope in their dreary lost souls.
This is certainly not No Mans Sky or Joe Danger, The Last Campfire came with no fanfare, no overpromises and I was not sure what I was expecting when I first picked up my DualShock 4. The whole game feels like a very personal project and it translates well to the player. I felt moved, I felt joy but most of all I had a fun, fulfilling experience that will stick with me for a while into the future.
So, what kind of game is The Last Campfire? Well, at its heart it is an isometric puzzler set in an overworld filled with NPC’s and very light questing. It has very simple controls, very simple objectives and it was the type of game I was ready for. I completed the game, along with its shiny platinum trophy in about 5-6 hours and It felt a lot shorter than that. If felt a lot shorter because the game is so streamlined, so hassle-free and so completely absorbingly joyous.
The whole tale is voiced over by a lady who has the most captivating, ethereal voice I have ever heard. She has a Scandinavian sounding voice and makes the whole game feel like it’s being read to you at bedtime, it is comforting, beautiful and brilliant. She does the voices for other characters at the same time and it’s a really simple thing that makes the game feel very fairytale-like or like a story being told in the dark around a campfire. I want her to narrate all my games.
Each area of this charming title takes place around a central campfire. Each campfire has a number of Embers that must be guided back to it by completing a self-contained puzzle. When you have found an Ember, who is forlorn and turned to stone, complete the small, often clever puzzle and they will appear at the central campfire. Once you have enough Embers, you can move onto the next area. Simple, direct and very sleek, it reminds me of classic games before everything gained skill trees and heavy RPG mechanics and it is so invigorating to play.
Massage That Grey Matter
To rescue each Ember you are transported to a small one-off puzzle that must be completed using environmental objects, switches, levers and a special ability you pick up on the way. These puzzles are never over-complicated, never too abstract and always fun to solve. You are never given any tutorials and due to the great design work of the game, you always know what to do. Don’t get me wrong, a few of them took a bit of pondering over but it was fun working out the eventual solutions.
A lot of these Embers you must locate are hidden behind other ‘lighter’ puzzles in the overworld or locked behind small chores you do by interacting with NPC’s. They are mainly taking an object from one area to another but again, it’s simple, enjoyable fun and I really found it entertaining. It was always rewarding working out what to do in each area, working out what objects are needed where and what NPC’s needed in order to move your quest forward. This combined with a very simple control scheme and very well designed game systems creates a lovely, light hassle-free gameplay experience.
One of the features I really loved was the Campfire spirits. You can ask for help from them in locating Embers you have missed. They don’t tell you exactly where they are but give you little hints to guide you on your way. It’s a great little feature that does not hold your hand but gives you a little nudge and still makes you feel great when you eventually locate that last missing Ember. Again, it’s another way this game shows you how much it has been thought about, how much the game respects the players’ intelligence and how much the developers have thought about making the gameplay experience a rewarding one.
I loved the art style of The Last Campfire, it was what initially drew me into the games fascinating world. Your character may look like a potato sack with eyes but over time you will learn to love this little sack of spuds and get really invested in their worthwhile cause. The environments, characters and everything about the Last Campfire are so clean, so well-made and it was a joy to spend a few hours wandering through this unique world. The music really tied everything together too, soft pianos and violins really intensified the emotional tones of the poignant story.
I did have one issue, albeit a trivial one. Every now and again I would get a tiny bit of frame hitching. A small pause as things were loading or executing and it was just often enough for it to be noticeable. Let me get this straight though, it is by no means a game-breaking problem, the gameplay, it’s tone and its magnificent design trumps this minor technical issue and it should be no means stop you playing it. You get so wrapped up in the gameplay and story that it never detracts from the experience.
This Warm Hearted Tale Shines Bright
This is the game I needed right now. It’s short, beautiful, streamlined and not a single pixel is wasted throughout. The narrator and the music really help drive home this tale of hope, despair and finding those who are lost. The gameplay is entertaining, rewarding and never overbearing. The Last Campfire is brilliant, it has an amazing trophy list and a small frame hitching issue aside is a perfect gaming experience. Just go and play it now, you will not regret it.
Review code kindly provided by the publisher.