There’s something cathartic about solving puzzles. I tend to gravitate towards puzzle games because I like the euphoria that happens when I figure out the pattern. I live for the high, baby. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to test out Bonfire Peaks at PAX East. Corey Martin’s Bonfire Peaks offers that satisfaction of solving unique puzzles but with a perspective of letting things go in the process. This game deals with attachment through complex puzzles that involve burning crates of belongings in order to move forward.
There’s a lot of sentimentality as you play a pixelated character roaming around a forest-like environment filled with old toys, furniture, and crates. As you progress through each puzzle, you must use these crates to get to the next level. The game is meant to be challenging as you figure out where to place blocks in order to make it to the massive fire pit where you burn a crate full of stuff.
Corey Martin, creator of Pipe Push Paradise & Hiding Spot, says he wanted to make Bonfire Peaks because of his own difficulties with letting go. He says that adding a personal touch to the game makes it more authentic. “People can tell the difference,” says Martin on playing games made with authenticity and games that don’t have that personal touch.
Overall, the gameplay is very fluid. You start at a campfire and access your first puzzle. Once you’ve completed the puzzle, you are taken back to the campfire and a crate appears. Each puzzle solved earns you a crate that you’ll have to use in the future. All of the puzzles can be restarted from the beginning.
The puzzles are difficult, and rightfully so. Martin says that developers of puzzle games entice players by making them hard. The frustration of starting over is part of the game. Once you’re able to get that crate of belongings into the fire, the relief you feel makes it worth it.
Martin also talked about the difficulty of streaming puzzle games. The interactions between viewers and the player are often negative. For example, Martin says Twitch streamers will have comments from their viewers saying things like, “I solved that puzzle two moves ago” or “it’s frustrating watching you mess up so many times.” He hopes that Bonfire Peaks will be something that’s streamable in the future. Perhaps players coming together to talk about attachments while solving puzzles doesn’t sound too bad.
The puzzle aspect is great, but the aesthetic of the game is my favorite. The colors are cool tones of pinks, greens and blues which make you feel relaxed right away. It’s true to a puzzle game and the puzzles get harder the further you progress. I used a controller for the game so I wasn’t able to get the flow of it through a keyboard.
Bonfire Peaks is personable, relaxing, and exquisitely made. Martin is a master of creating puzzles and pulling your inner struggles into a video game. I never felt rushed to finish each puzzle and I enjoyed the process of figuring out the patterns.
I usually know what I’m getting into when I play puzzle games. Figure out the pattern and move on to the next level. However, it was oddly therapeutic not only solving the puzzles but getting to burn your box of belongings in the process. It was like releasing a little bit of stress or tension with each solution. It is a game about attachment and dealing with what to hold on to and what to let go of. I had no idea I would be doing some inner reflection while playing Bonfire Peaks.
Bonfire Peaks is coming May 5th, 2020, to PC, Mac, & Linux.