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Fireside Review: A Wholesome Camping Fantasy Indie Adventure

Platform(s): PC (version reviewed), Nintendo Switch
Genre: Cosy crafting-exploration game in a magic-filled world

I recently dove into the world of Fireside, the latest indie gem from Nordcurrent Labs, and I couldn’t help but reflect on the often repeated adage, “It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey.”

While this phrase may come off as cliché in other contexts, it perfectly encapsulates the essence of Fireside. This wholesome game is all about the adventure and the various encounters you experience, shaping your path to the endpoint. Fireside’s narrative-driven experience, set in a delightfully sketchy, doodle-like universe, seamlessly combines crafting and exploration with deeply engaging character stories, offering players hours of entertainment.

 

Pitching Tents

In Fireside, players embody a blue-hued merchant named Knick—though the game allows for customising the character’s name. After a shipwreck leaves him stranded on a mysterious island, void of his business tools, the merchant, guided by a barrel-clad man named Costa, must start afresh. His curiosity soon leads to the accidental activation of a mystical portal, bringing him face-to-face with Knack, a disgruntled spirit guardian. Tasked with collecting soul energy through acts of kindness and receiving gratitude, Knick sets out to restore balance to the shrines scattered across the island and also starts his trading business.

The gameplay introduces players to the River Delta, affording them three days of travel and interaction with the island’s inhabitants at various campsites. Each campsite visit grants players five actions, ranging from engaging in conversation, trading goods, collecting recipes, to cooking meals. This rhythm of sleeping and moving to new sites, intertwined with the gameplay loop of assisting characters, gathering recipes, and enhancing the spirit realm through thoughtful upgrade choices, forms the core mechanics.

Crafting and exploration go hand in hand in Fireside. The more you make of the new recipes you find, the easier it is to trade items along the way. For instance, you make steamed rice out of rice and water, then trade it for several items at once. As long as the item’s value is higher compared to the other person, you can get more stuff in a single transaction. However, there’s a twist: on your last day at the River Delta, you can only bring two items from your inventory to the spirit realm. So, it’s recommended to be aware of the days left to strategize what you’re bringing back to the spirit realm. In a way, you will have to strategize what your goal is once you’re at the River Delta in order to make progress in the game.

Nevertheless, this storage can be upgraded as long as you collect the required resources or take the necessary steps to advance in the game. As players fulfil their duties at River Delta, new destinations are unveiled, featuring fresh characters and opportunities for crafting more complex recipes. The promise of new content with each advancement ensures a continuously engaging gameplay experience.

 

Ripple Effect

What truly sets Fireside apart are its unique and quirky characters, each presenting its own set of challenges, from culinary cravings to resolving peculiar disputes. I adore Donnie, the small turtle; his goal is to be as cute and chill as he can be. Not forgetting Buzzy the Bee, a lonely but kind bee who welcomes you in a warm hug. These narratives, while humorous, resonate deeply, underscoring the game’s central theme: even the smallest acts of kindness can have far-reaching impacts. Players are encouraged to take their time, immersing themselves in the game’s cozy atmosphere without the pressure of a ticking clock.

The game’s soothing soundtrack adds to its charm, enhancing the immersive experience as if you were sitting beside a campfire with Knick. The music adeptly shifts tone to match the unfolding narrative, adding depth and emotion to the journey. It goes well with sipping on your tea or coffee as you tune into the relaxing instrumental music.

The folks at Emergo Entertainment did a great job with the game’s technical aspects. I didn’t encounter any bugs or minor glitches. However, if I were to point out a flaw, it would be the save points. While on the island, you can only save the game when you’re back in the spirit realm. Additionally, the save points option is automated, so you can’t manually save your progress. If you’ve made progress on the island and decide to quit halfway, you’ll return to the spirit realm, losing all the progress you’ve made.

Fireside stands as a glowing testament to the beauty of a journey, offering a rich, casual gaming experience brimming with heart, humour, and a meaningful message. It’s a trip well worth taking for anyone seeking a reflective and cozy crafting escapade.

 

Pros

  • Vibrant doodle fantasy world.
  • Cute and quirky characters.
  • Relaxing soundtracks.
  • Tons of content to work with.

Cons

  • No manual save.
  • It can be daunting for those not keen on endless crafting.

 

FINAL SCORE: 80/100

Review copy provided by the publisher. Fireside is out now for Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam.

 

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  1. Fireside Review: A Cozy Indie Adventure - Gaming Hub HQ

    June 5, 2024 at 7:17 pm

    […] there combat in Fireside?No, Fireside focuses on crafting, exploration, and character interaction rather than […]

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