The Last Campfire for PS4 review: Fun puzzles and beautiful scenery, but the depressing world might burn you out

Last Campfire The Bird
(Image: © iMore)

Android Central Verdict

Bottom line: The Last Campfire is a short adventure that employs fun puzzles and a gorgeous art style. If you don't mind the heavy existentialism brought by the game's story, then this will be a great addition to your collection.


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    Beautiful imagery

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    Challenging puzzles

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    Quirky characters and humor

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    The narration gives it a mystical, fairy tale feel


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    Short story

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    Not particularly good for anyone looking to be cheered up

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When The Last Campfire was announced during The Game Awards 2018, I was intrigued, but I had no idea how strange life would be once it was released in 2020. Before playing the game, the trailers lead me to imagine that Hello Game's upcoming title might just be the perfect thing for helping players process pain and come to acceptance in our current pandemic-ridden world; similar to how cheery Animal Crossing: New Horizons has proved to be. However, I've since played the game and realized this is not the case.

In the game, you follow a lost Ember who's attempting to find his way back home. Along the way, he meets forlorn souls who have gotten so downtrodden that they have turned to stone. By navigating through platforming elements and figuring out puzzles, Ember can bring these strangers back to life and help them move on.

In between solving fun puzzles in a gorgeously rendered world, the game gets so bogged down by crushing hopelessness that instead of bringing relief to players who struggle with insecurities, it only seems to pull them further down. While I do love the puzzle aspects and the art direction, I will say this might not be a game for someone looking for hope during these hard times.

The Last Campfire What I like

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TitleThe Last Campfire
DeveloperHello Games
PublisherHello Games
GenreAdventure, Platformer, Puzzle, Indie
Play Time8 - 10 hours
Players1 Player
Launch Price$15

I cannot praise The Last Campfire's unique art style enough. The characters are simultaneously haunting and charming while the environments look beautiful but feel hazy like a dream. Topping that all off, this platform, puzzler, is narrated in such a way that it feels like someone is reading a mystical fairy tale to you as you explore. It all works together to create an air of uncertainty and awe.

There are a few humorous moments as you travel through the game and interact with various characters. Some of these encounters can be heartwarming or even give a splash of dark humor. Altogether, it works well to create a quirky environment for players to navigate through.

The puzzles themselves start off simply enough but eventually become more complex as you continue. Each section gives you different mechanics to use, so you never feel like you're being cheated by solving the same challenge over and over again. I found myself looking forward to the next puzzle whenever I completed one. They really were fun to play through.

The Last Campfire What I don't like

Instead of sparking hope like intended, this game can lead to an internal burnout.

Instead of sparking hope like intended, this game can lead to an internal burnout. The story centers around Ember, who travels around fixing strangers' emotional and mental problems before helping them move on. As someone who struggles with depression and social anxiety, some of these encounters felt all too familiar.

A depressing world Might bring down those already struggling

The thing is, even though the game is supposed to be about inspiring hope, one depressing encounter after another proves to be mentally exhausting and made me all too aware of my own struggles. There isn't a lot of happiness that counteracts the constant barrage of existentialism and pain, either. So the characters open a hole into your soul that you might just feel compelled to dive down into.

That being said, I did appreciate that there were some characters who Ember cannot help. The game usually states that Ember understands that the character wasn't ready to get help and might never be. In a very small way, it helps create awareness that mental and emotional problems can be long-lasting issues and not just something that can be "fixed."

Short playthrough Little replay value

I was able to get to the game's ending within eight and a half hours. This short playtime isn't surprising given how inexpensive the game is. Due to the way the story plays out, there isn't a lot of replay value. In fact, you cannot replay puzzles you've already completed unless you start the game over.

The Last Campfire Should you buy it?

The Last Campfire Fisherman

Source: iMore (Image credit: Source: iMore)

I thoroughly enjoyed the visuals and puzzles that I came across while making my way through The Last Campfire. It gives off a dream-like aura, and the narrative reads like an old fairy tale. Some of the characters are very charming, and there are a few humorous elements that add to the game's unique brand of quirkiness.

4 out of 5

In my experience, the repeated encounters with depressed and insecure characters brought me too much in mind to my own internal struggles. There aren't as many hopeful moments to help balance out the darker elements. So, while the game is supposed to be about lifting others up and finding hope, it had the opposite effect on me. If you're going through a rough time and are looking for something to give you some cheer, this might not be the best game to play.

Rebecca Spear
Staff Writer

Rebecca Spear is a staff writer for Android Central who loves following the latest tech, drawing with her Wacom, and playing video games. You can find her posting about her pets, art, and video game preferences on Twitter @rrspear.