Review: The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands review – A bright light of strategy and planning in the dark

The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands sits somewhere between the mid and hardcore. But the end result is a surprisingly engaging strategy game that deals out consequences for all of your actions.

It doesn’t demand dextrous fingers, but you’re going to have to think through everything you do if you want to keep the villagers under your care alive.

And when there are giant spiders roaming the lands, as well as packs of wolves and strange, long-limbed monsters, that’s much harder said than done.

The end times

Your settlement is built around the titular bonfire. Once its lit, people will come to you looking for shelter and work. They’ll need food and a place to sleep as well.

To begin with you’re mainly collecting wood and guarding the village, but as your tribe grows you’ll be mining ore, smelting metals, and building shipyards.

And the more tasks you’ve got, the fewer resources you have to juggle. Should you build the tannery or save up and get the shipyard? How many workers do you need providing food? And can you trust all of them?

The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands iOS review screenshot

Each of the characters who come to you looking for help has their own personality. Some are brave, some are strong, but all of them can change if they start to lose sleep or get too hungry. Thieves need to be dealt with in the harshest possible way.

There’s just something compelling about the rhythm of play here. You want to build more, protect more people, and build a thriving community in what’s essentially a wasteland.

When one of your people dies, it’s pretty sad. And when one of them betrays you it’s even sadder. There are other choices to make too, and the bigger your settlement becomes, the more you need to consider every action.

Is this the real life?

Balancing everything is a difficult task, but it’s one that you’re likely going to approach with aplomb. There’s so much to do, and it’s so easy to get on with it, that hours are likely to slide by as you tend your growing town.

The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands is an unexpected treat. It’s fun, it’s thoughtful, and if you let it get into your head then it’s going to stay there for a good long while.