Crafting games come in all shapes and sizes, whether their focus is crafting to survive in a harsh land or crafting tools for your farmstead so you can make a ton of dosh they all scratch that same itch. Even a lot of big budget AAA games have a bit of crafting sprinkled in nowadays, so fans of combining bits and bobs to make something useful have plenty of options. While the Iron’s Hot is the first game I’ve ever played that focuses exclusively on being the best blacksmith you can be, and I reckon that’s it’s pretty cool idea for a video game.
At the start of the game your character is already a pretty well established blacksmith, but he really wants to get better. There’s an island where master craftsmen all gather to become the very best out in the middle of the ocean, so he jumps on board a ship and gets ready to start his metalworking adventure. It’s a fairly simple story that’s well written and engaging enough, and gets you where you need to be nice and quickly.
When you arrive on the island a wise old man is delighted to hear there’s a new blacksmith, because the old one left and they need help making metal doodads. You’re immediately shown to his old forge and house, and are expected to start making some tools that’ll help you on your quest. The forge has a lot of different elements to get to grip with, but once you do you’ll be prepared for everything Smithing throws your way.
First you’ve got to make the metal bars by shoving some ore in the furnace, then you have to make the blocks into various shapes on your anvil. These shapes will be enough to create certain items, but others will need metal that’s sharpened on the grinder. Once you’ve got all the metal bits you need you can put them all together on the crafting table, and will have a finished product to use or give to someone else. It’s a system that didn’t take too long to get to grip with, and one that’s rather satisfying.
To make crafting more interesting, each aspect of it has a minigame associated with it. Forging can be sped up with the bellows, sharpening involves pressing the right direction at the right time to I guess sharpen the right parts of the metal, and shaping requires you to hit away portions of a block you don’t need to make the shape in question. None of these minigames are particularly enthralling, but they do a good job of making the crafting feel a little more involved.
Once you get used to crafting it’s time to head out into the world and meet the other islanders. As the newcomer some of the folks around the island are sceptical of your abilities, but are more than happy to test your metal (if you’ll pardon the pun) with a request or two. Helping more people will help you progress the story and access new areas and recipes, so get ready to do a whole lot of forging.
When you aren’t working up a sweat at the forge there’s a big island to explore with a world map and even dungeons to dive into. When you’re exploring a dank cave the game sort of turns into a side scrolling platformer with fixed Oddworld style controls. There’s not really a whole lot of hazards or any enemies to worry about, but you might need to solve a simple puzzle or two to proceed.
While the Iron’s Hot is an enjoyable enough game, but for me it just felt like there wasn’t quite enough to it. The Smithing is fine, but when that’s pretty much all you do for the entire game it just isn’t enough. I also really wasn’t a fan of the energy system, which means you need to take regular naps so you don’t collapse from exhaustion and just feels unnecessary.
If you really love crafting games and don’t want to have to deal with any enemies or distractions then While the Iron’s Hot is the game for you. If you need a little more from your crafting games though then you might be a little disappointed, because there just isn’t enough exploration or much in the way of progression hooks to keep you engaged.
A cool idea for a crafting game
The minigames are a nice touch
The story and writing are charming
Not a whole lot to the game
A lack of progression hooks
Not enough exploring