The Last Campfire from Hello Games (you know, of No Man’s Sky fame) is nothing like No Man’s Sky. It’s a calm little puzzle game with adorable characters and beautiful environments. It’s fairly short, with few characters and a sweet story.
You play as Ember, a small soul who is trying to find their own path and get to the end of their journey – wherever that may be. Along the way, you’ll encounter forlorn souls that got lost on their own journeys, and you’ll need to solve self-contained puzzles to free them.
To find all these lost souls, and progress to the next area, you’ll need to solve various environmental puzzles. It’s the usual sort of stuff, with objects to roll, push, pull, or set on fire. Eventually, you will get a few tools, and even get a little boat to allow you to reach even more areas.
There are no enemies, no combat in The Last Campfire, no timers or chase scenes. Nothing relies on your reflexes or ability to mash buttons at the right time. Combined with the Switch’s ability to suspend games, I was able to take my time and enjoy this peaceful game.
Difficulty wise, some of the puzzles are challenging, but none felt impossible, and I’m saying this as someone who doesn’t play a lot of puzzle games. Only a few times did I need to find extra help or guidance. The areas are large enough that if you get stuck with one aspect of a puzzle, you can usually move to another section and attempt to make some progress there. The lost soul puzzles – the most challenging aspect of the game – can be reset if you muck things up.
Enjoy the journey
There’s very little dialogue in The Last Campfire. All text and dialogue is narrated by the same calm voice. You also collect little snippets of journals as you explore, giving you a little more insight into the world. I particularly appreciated that everyone in the game uses the pronouns they/them.
The music is calming and the game sounds great in general. The whole thing gave me Ori and the Blind Forest vibes, without the combat and crazy platforming, of course.
As beautiful as the game looks, The Last Campfire suffers from visual slowdown when moving through areas. Surprisingly, this is worse in docked mode. I ended up playing mostly in handheld mode, where the game runs somewhat better. However, the slowdown and stuttering are still evident even in handheld mode. Given that the game has been out for a while now, I’d have expected this to be fixed in a patch, but as I’m writing this, that isn’t the case. This is a pity, as this is a game that is perfectly suited to the Switch, and I enjoyed being able to pick it up and play in small bursts. I can only hope this is addressed in a future patch, and that the game runs better on other platforms.
The Last Campfire is a beautiful puzzle game marred by performance issues on the Switch. If you’re looking for something calming, sweet, and not too long, definitely give The Last Campfire a look.