Bonfire Peaks by Corey Martin
There is no shortage of simple but addictive puzzle games on offer in today’s indie scene. Publisher Draknek in particular has made a name for themselves in the genre, including last year’s surprise hit, A Monster’s Expedition.
Bonfire Peaks, the publisher’s latest, promises yet another deceptively simple but tough-to-master head-scratcher. The question is, does it live up to its pedigree?
Kindle the Soul
Bonfire Peaks casts you as a man who ventures to the eponymous hills to do one thing: burn all of his possessions. It’s equal parts cathartic and absurd, and it serves to introduce the game’s laid-back aesthetic. The game eases you into the experience with gorgeous voxel graphics and a pleasant soundtrack. However, this is a deception, as the game quickly reveals itself as shockingly difficult.
The puzzles you encounter through Bonfire Peaks all share the same premise. There’s a bonfire you need to drop a crate of your belongings into, but getting there is anything but straightforward. Each puzzle requires you to manipulate various types of cubes (boxes, stones, etc.) into creating a path to your objective. The key trick here is that positioning is everything; rotating your character is impossible if whatever he’s carrying collides with an object. This provides a frankly stunning amount of puzzle variety, and it’s consistently interesting to see what new hurdles come from this simple system.
The Burning Remnants
While all of these factors make Bonfire Peaks feel like it should be an easy recommendation, the game’s simplicity ends up highlighting its few but significant shortcomings.
Most significant is that the game’s control system is fiddly. Being able to rotate and reverse your character are key elements to the game’s puzzles, but the control scheme chosen to do this is frustrating. Playing on the Switch, I quickly found that using the analog stick to move practically wrecked the experience with its lack of precision. Even when switching to the D-Pad, the controls never managed to feel precise or consistent even after multiple levels. This also isn’t helped by the game’s general difficulty, which felt less like a gentle curve and more like a sheer vertical cliff.
On top of that, there are a few technical issues that hamper the experience as a whole. The game’s hub world, itself full of puzzles, has consistent slowdown issues on the Switch. And despite how generally relaxing the soundtrack is, there were tracks that started to grate very quickly. The game also takes a noticeable amount of time to load new music after a track ends, leaving you sitting in silence fairly often.
If it sounds like I’m nit-picking, it’s because these issues stick out like a sore thumb amongst the excellent puzzles. Bonfire Peaks is definitely an excellent collection of brain-teasers, but actually interacting with them is far more of a chore than it should be. These are issues that could easily be remedied via a patch, but for now, this game is less a blazing inferno and more embers amongst coals.
Bonfire Peaks is available via the Nintendo Game Store, Microsoft Store, PlayStation Store, Steam, and Epic Games Store.
Watch the trailer for Bonfire Peaks below: