It’s amazing how much creativity certain studios have; take Hello Games for instance. This developer crafted the infinite space exploration game No Man’s Sky, but has also made this delightful puzzle game, The Last Campfire. Two completely different games, but both spectacular on their own merit. Where The Last Campfire shines is in its use of puzzles to build a fascinating world worthy of exploring, with a poignant message told through a variety of problem solving. You follow a character known as Ember – a lovable burlap sack with a big heart – and after losing your way, it is up to you to save other lost souls in a dreamlike utopia filled with hidden dangers.
The main focus of The Last Campfire is to bring other sacks back to life – or a version of existence – by jumping into their minds and helping to find their flame. The puzzles that unlock start off by pulling levers, moving blocks, and opening pathways, but as the game progresses new challenges will present themselves, such as reflecting light and lighting fires. These creatures are known as ‘Forlorn,’ and they are all suffering from some kind of inner struggle, whether that is anxiety, loneliness, or depression. Their puzzles often reflect this, and the layers Hello Games has put together creates a much deeper experience than I’d expected.
Puzzles don’t solely exist in these moments either. Travelling around the different environments present challenges as well, such as feeding a hungry frog and a giant famished pig, and using an item known as a Lanthorn to move platforms around. They are everywhere, and you often find there is no direct path from one to the next, but a real sense of freedom as you move from campfire to campfire. The Shrines in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild were a definite inspiration here, as there is plenty of variety in what you need to do with no two puzzles feeling the same.
The Last Campfire is a chilled game. Puzzles aren’t overly difficult, and even if you are struggling, there’s always help to be found. Throughout your journey, there is a voiceover from a young Scandinavian woman. Her voice is soothing, and the music is stunning. She offers the majority of the narrative, offering story beats and help to solve certain puzzles, all whilst the ambient and moving score plays in the background. The sound design is remarkable, helping to bring the mysterious world to life.
The visuals reminded me a lot of Monument Valley, with a wide range of pastel blues, greens, and yellows making the environments stand out. Whilst it’s a gorgeous looking game, I had a fair few moments where the framerate suffered whenever I jumped into one of the Forlorn’s minds. Outside of these issues, it’s a joy to journey deeper into the world and meet the wide range of quirky characters along the way.
Outside of the puzzles, there are also diary entries you’ll find hidden in stone boxes. Whilst they don’t impact the gameplay, they help you to understand more about what is going on. Whilst there’s no definitive explanation as to where you are or what has happened, the message of hope is constantly explored. These Forlorn are lost – trapped in their own heads – and whilst they never ask for your help, you’ll gladly give it to them. It’s a reflection of real life. Sometimes it is hard to ask for help when you’re suffering, but there are always people there to lend you a hand.
The Last Campfire is a charming puzzler, offering a web of challenges wherever you go. The world is beautiful, and the soundtrack is both delicate and powerful. The characters you meet and the obstacles you face push you to solve every puzzle, and no matter how tricky it may be, you never hit a wall that you can’t overcome. Hello Games has made something special. It’s a nice departure from the 50-plus hour open-worlds and RPGs, offering you constant brainteasers and tons of charm throughout.
Excellent puzzle variety
Some framerate issues