While the Iron’s Hot Review – Hammering Out the Kinks

A journey that still has edges to be refined.
While the Iron's Hot Review - Forging a Good Time Twinfinite

While the Iron’s Hot on PC

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Crafting games has certainly become a genre that has built up quite a community, allowing players to immerse themselves deeper in the worlds where the next big adventure awaits. For those seeking the opportunity to work up a sweat forging items near the hustle and bustle of a blacksmith’s hammer, Humble Bundle and Bontemps Games’ While The Iron’s Hot should provide plenty of satisfaction in that regard.

While the Iron's Hot Dialogue
Image Source: Humble Games

Players will journey to the distant lands of Ellian, which has been home to a legacy of legendary artisans who have perfected their craft over the years in all kinds of disciplines. Yet, conspicuously, blacksmithing has become a lost art, and as the new face, it is up to you to take up the mantle of the masters of old and forge, smelt, and craft this world a collection of useful and interesting items.

Along the way, you will learn more about the land and its people, as well as the overarching story and events that have led to the moment when you become a master in your own right. It is not exactly a riveting tale that we have not seen before, but the main attraction here is the mixture of gameplay elements that will occupy most of your time here.

As a blacksmith, the majority of your time will be spent trying to work materials into objects and items. While the game initially provides you with some tools and recipes, the rest of the journey is yours to make. Materials like various ores and wood need to be gathered from the world, recipes can be learned from schematics or through experimentation, and things will only get more complex as more of Ellian opens up.

There is an innate sense of joy when working within the forges of the game, going from one stage to another in a series of mini-games. Smelting can be done automatically, but with good timing, you can double your output consistently for more to work with. Using the anvil to get specific shapes for your metals is a matter of rhythm and precision, while sharpening objects also requires mastering the flow. These activities may not be elaborate, but they all make for a quaint representation of the work that goes into making something.

While the Iron's Hot Smelting
Image Source: Humble Games

In between fulfilling orders to make money that feeds back into the whole crafting process, there are plenty of quests to take on and environmental puzzles to be solved in While The Iron’s Hot. The former is always about giving the people what they need, while the latter is always a nice challenge of using your observational and logic skills to manipulate the environment, collect key items, and open up the way forward.

With the game being a combat-free adventure, the presence of light platforming and puzzle-solving does help break up the monotony to a certain degree, keeping the attention fully focused on the art of using the forge. It doesn’t take long to graduate from working with basic iron to the more advanced variants of items such as Damascus and glass, giving a real sense of progression for the time spent moving around Ellian.

That progression also shows itself in the many upgrades that can be implemented in the home village of Stal. With enough cash and the right components, players can restore the village to a bustling hub, where an ever-improving forge is augmented with miners helping to gather materials, a magical abode capable of enchanting items for increased durability, an adventurer’s guild, and even a tavern filled with the shady Sneakies that turn out to be not so bad. All of the upgrades will make your life easier, and even on the road, a mobile forge becomes an option so that there is no need to travel halfway across the land just to do some hammering.

Speaking of travel, While The Iron’s Hot breaks things up between the overworld and the various locations that can be entered. It can be quite delightful seeing the different biomes that make up this land, hinting at the obstacles that lie ahead, as well as the tantalizing resources up for grabs. From ancient forests, dangerous swamps, to frozen rivers, there is much to see and utilize as players move from town to town.

While the Iron's Hot Sleeping
Image Source: Humble Games

Players will have to watch out for their energy levels as well, with a limited pool to draw from each and every day. This means prioritizing what needs to be done as much as possible, even if the game doesn’t put any pressure on you to move quickly. In fact, knowing when to take a nap is key to some of the puzzles found out in the wild, which is a nice touch. Sleeping is where players level up as well, with the game collating all of the activities that you have done throughout the day and converting them into XP. Leveling up brings a choice of three different permanent perks, which are always helpful whether you are outside exploring or working within the forge.

There is plenty to keep players busy, and although the game does provide much entertainment throughout the 10-15 hour journey to the end, it is not without a few niggling issues that may be a dealbreaker for players.

I have never been a fan of durability systems, and this can be particularly annoying at the beginning stages of the game where tools break too quickly while trying to harvest necessary resources. Sure, it may be a game about forging and blacksmithing, but having several pickaxes and axes in the limited inventory while resource hunting just to avoid another trip back home is counterintuitive. Things definitely get better once more durable materials come into play, but that will still take quite a while.

Having a large repertoire of recipes in While The Iron’s Hot can be a double-edged sword as well, even with the help of an in-game guide that shows you exactly what is needed and where to put the components to create an item. Just scrolling through the possible creations can be tedious, and while there are filters to work with, having an outright search function may be much more useful. The ability to pin recipes is helpful too, but with UI and space constraints, there is still a constant need to go into the menus to seek out other recipes that are required at any moment.

While The Iron's Hot Sharpening
Image Source: Humble Games

Also, as mentioned, the many requests and side quests within the game largely fall into the pattern of getting the right items to the people who want them, which can be a tad boring. You definitely need the income to fund the rest of the business, so it’s not like you can avoid these diversions outright. Keep that in mind as you venture further into Ellian, and when there is a need, selling valuable trinkets found out in the world can stave off the threat of dull quests for a while. Thankfully, there are still a few environmental puzzles that are more interesting and give the brain a good workout, and this game can certainly do with a few more of those.

At its core, While The Iron’s Hot doesn’t necessarily break the mold when it comes to such adventures, although its focus on blacksmithing does bring a more involved perspective that works pretty well for those that like to get their hands dirty in that manner. The art and music make for fine companions, especially as there is an extended amount of time being spent toiling away, but its plot and side quests are nothing spectacular. Just like a masterpiece, this is a game that has potential, but there is still work to be done in order to hammer out all the kinks.

3.5
While the Iron's Hot
At its core, While The Iron's Hot doesn't necessarily break the mold when it comes to such adventures, although its focus on blacksmithing does bring a more involved perspective that works pretty well for those that like to get their hands dirty in that manner. The art and music make for fine companions, especially as there is an extended amount of time being spent toiling away, but its plot and side quests are nothing spectacular. Just like a masterpiece, this is a game that has potential, but there is still work to be done in order to hammer out all the kinks.
Pros
  • Blacksmithing process a joy.
  • Environmental puzzles are a pleasure.
  • Art style and music are whimsically charming.
Cons
  • Side quests are not exactly inspiring.
  • Durability system is a hassle.
  • Recipes can be overwhelming.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S.
Author
Jake Su
Jake is a full-time trophy hunter and achievement gatherer on consoles, and a part-time Steam Sale victim. He has a thing for Batman and awesome statues, and running out of space for both. Send help. Jake was a freelance writer for Twinfinite between 2021 to 2023 and specialized in writing detailed guides on every new release he could get his hands on.