Our story begins on a dark and stormy night. You are a traveller sailing to a new land in hopes of building a home. Your ultimate goal is to revive the titan and have it do battle with an ancient beast. However, that is a long way off. First, you must gather companions and resources.
This is the premise for The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands. It is a survival and resource collection simulator with an overarching mission. You start with one person and must build a bonfire to attract wanderers. With their help, your bonfire will grow into a thriving community. As you would expect, most of the gameplay is about issuing commands and planning ahead.
The simulation is simplistic which works in its favour. You have a handful of options: collect resources, build infrastructure or craft tools. In the beginning, you only have access to wood. As you expand your land, new resources become available like iron and coal. The idea is to progress from one resource to another while building up your base.
The issue is how slow progression can be. There is a fair amount of waiting before you can do anything. Much of your time will involve staring at the screen in patience. Many simulation games are complex and there is always something for you to work on. The Bonfire’s simplicity means there are moments when you can’t do anything other than wait.
There are various roles for your villagers to fulfil, other than collecting resources. You can send out scouts to hunt for food and find secrets. Warriors will join in expeditions through dungeons and caves. Alchemists are crucial as they can create an exclusive resource, sun stones. The most important role is that of the guard.
The Bonfire has a day-night cycle which works well. During the day everyone works, at night they rest and eat. Also during the night, creatures will attack you and if you’re character dies it’s game over. You can assign workers to be guards and they will fight for you. The customisation is decent as well. Guards can wield weapons and also wear armour to protect themselves. It’s essential you upgrade them otherwise they won’t survive.
Speaking of death, there are a few ways you can lose villagers. If you don’t have enough food, the workers will fight amongst themselves for what’s left. Scouts can perish from their journey and never return. Ancient texts can corrupt scholars with forbidden knowledge. To optimise your workers, use their trait to their advantage. For example, strong workers are best as a guard or warrior. While hardworking villagers should work on the farm or gather resources.
This is the main challenge and gameplay loop of The Bonfire. Assigning villagers to the correct task and ensuring you can survive the night. It can get tedious fast as there isn’t much variety in what you do. Once you get into a pattern there’s no incentive to deviate or experiment. After a while, The Bonfire becomes boring and a test of patience rather than intelligence.
Despite this, there are some interesting elements such as weather. During snowy or rainy days, your workers are less productive. They walk slower and take longer to collect resources. This adds to the realism and adds an element of unpredictability. There’s no way to counter mother nature other than to tough it out. The mechanic isn’t in-depth though. If workers could die from the cold if you don’t have enough heat, that would add challenge. It would also change the pace of gameplay and give you something different to do.
The Bonfire has a clean-cut and minimalistic look. The art style is cartoony that uses colours to its advantage. The lack of detail can cause animations to look odd, especially the monsters charging at you. The most important thing is the clarity and efficiency of the style. There’s no clutter on the screen to take away from your experience.
The music also follows a minimal theme and sinks into the background. It picks up during monster encounters or a few special moments. It isn’t amazing but it gets the job done. Something pleasant in the background that fits with the tone of The Bonfire.
Your ultimate goal is to revive the sleeping titan and power it up. Reaching this goal doesn’t take a long time, 3-4 hours should get you there. Even less time if you optimise your resource allocation and collection. There isn’t much replayability either other than a hardcore mode. In this mode, dying will result in a game over and you must start over. After finishing the game once, chances are you won’t want to play it again.
The Bonfire brings some fun elements to the table. It tried to add consequence to your actions through betrayals and weather impediments. Yet, the basic gameplay can get tedious as it offers little variety to players. The Bonfire is a repetitive cycle that lacks the diversity to keep you interested.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.