Fireside Review: A Cozy Indie Adventure

Discover Fireside: A cozy indie adventure with crafting, exploration, and heartwarming stories

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.” This phrase 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 customizing 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.

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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 fulfill 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.

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Gameplay Mechanics and Crafting System

The core mechanics of Fireside revolve around crafting, exploration, and interaction with the island’s inhabitants. The crafting system is simple yet engaging, allowing players to create various items and recipes that are crucial for trading and progression. Players collect resources from the environment, such as plants, minerals, and other materials, which can be combined to craft useful items. Recipes are discovered through exploration and interaction with other characters, adding a layer of discovery to the crafting process.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the crafting system is the trade mechanic. Players can trade crafted items with the island’s inhabitants to obtain other goods and resources. The value of items plays a significant role in trading, as players must ensure that the items they offer are of higher value than those they receive. This mechanic encourages strategic thinking and resource management, as players must decide which items to craft and trade to maximize their benefits.

Exploration and Discovery

Exploration is a key component of Fireside, with the island offering a variety of locations to discover. Each area is beautifully designed, with a hand-drawn, doodle-like art style that adds to the game’s charm. As players explore the island, they encounter various characters, each with their own stories and quests. These interactions are often humorous and heartwarming, contributing to the overall narrative and making the island feel alive.

The game’s world is filled with secrets and hidden treasures, encouraging players to thoroughly explore each area. From hidden caves to mysterious ruins, Fireside offers a sense of adventure and discovery that keeps players engaged. The exploration is further enhanced by the game’s day-night cycle, which affects the availability of certain characters and events. This dynamic system adds depth to the exploration, as players must plan their activities based on the time of day.

Character Interactions and Quests

Character interactions are a highlight of Fireside, with each character offering unique quests and challenges. These quests range from simple tasks, such as delivering items, to more complex missions that require players to solve puzzles or gather specific resources. The characters are well-written and memorable, each with their own distinct personalities and backstories.

The quests are designed to be meaningful and impactful, often tying into the game’s overarching narrative. Players must complete these quests to progress in the story and unlock new areas and features. The interactions with characters are not only entertaining but also provide valuable rewards, such as new recipes, crafting materials, and upgrades for the spirit realm.

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Upgrading the Spirit Realm

A significant aspect of Fireside is the spirit realm, which serves as a hub for the player’s activities. Players can upgrade the spirit realm by collecting soul energy and completing tasks. These upgrades provide various benefits, such as increased storage capacity, new crafting stations, and improved abilities. The upgrades are essential for progressing in the game and enhancing the player’s overall experience.

Upgrading the spirit realm requires careful planning and resource management, as players must decide which upgrades to prioritize. The upgrades are not only functional but also visually rewarding, with the spirit realm transforming and evolving as players progress. This system adds a layer of strategy to the game, as players must balance their efforts between exploration, crafting, and upgrading.

Soothing Soundtrack and Immersive Atmosphere

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.

Technical Performance and Challenges

Fireside performs well on both PC and Nintendo Switch, with smooth gameplay and minimal technical issues. The hand-drawn art style and vibrant colors are beautifully rendered, creating a visually appealing experience. The game’s controls are intuitive and responsive, making it easy for players to navigate the world and interact with characters.

However, one notable challenge is the save system. The game only allows saving when players are in the spirit realm, which can be frustrating for those who prefer to save their progress frequently. The lack of manual save points means that players must plan their gameplay sessions carefully to avoid losing progress. While this adds a layer of challenge, it can also be a drawback for those who prefer a more flexible saving system.

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Wrapping Up the Journey

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


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


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


What platforms is Fireside available on?
Fireside is available on PC and Nintendo Switch.

What is the main gameplay loop in Fireside?
The main gameplay loop involves traveling to different campsites, interacting with characters, collecting recipes, and crafting items to trade and upgrade.

Can you customize your character in Fireside?
Yes, players can customize their character’s name in Fireside.

How does the save system work in Fireside?
The save system is automated and only allows saving when you are in the spirit realm.

What makes Fireside’s characters unique?
Fireside features unique and quirky characters, each with its own set of challenges and engaging storylines.

Is there combat in Fireside?
No, Fireside focuses on crafting, exploration, and character interaction rather than combat.

How long does it take to complete Fireside?
The game offers hours of entertainment, but the exact length can vary based on how thoroughly you explore and engage with the content.

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