While the Iron’s Hot Review (Nintendo Switch)

Published on June 10th, 2024 by Kirsten G.

While the Iron's Hot Review (Nintendo Switch)

Have you ever played a simulation game and wished you could focus on the crafting skill set instead of bothering with things like fishing or mining? Are you tired of your character fleeing from a life of success, instead wishing you could have some ambition in a video game? Do you find the social aspect included in many “cozy” games to be tedious? Then, While the Iron’s Hot might just be the perfect game for you to pick up on your Nintendo Switch.


In this crafting-focused RPG, players step into the shoes of a young but ambitious blacksmith who has journeyed to the island of Ellian to become a master artisan. Along the way, you’ll meet other craftsmen and leaders who will test the limits of your smithing skills all while helping you rebuild Stal, a village once home to the legendary blacksmith who came before you. As players traverse their way across the island, they will start to uncover the secrets it holds.

The opening text crawl for While the Iron's Hot
Set out on an epic journey to become a master blacksmith.

Although the idea of a crafting-based RPG is charming, the story of this game feels lacking at times. Players spend very little of their playtime talking to NPCs. The trials the blacksmith faces and the mystery they uncover feels shallow. Those who focus on the main story quest will be able to run through the game quickly. The side quests are somewhat more compelling as the game’s most unique NPCs are primarily relegated to them. Once you’ve finished the job, though, there’s no way to continue talking to the characters. By the end of the main story arc, it’s hard to imagine many players will walk away feeling accomplished.


The story of While the Iron’s Hot leaves something to be desired, but it does provide an interesting mix of game mechanics. Your mileage will vary on if you are expecting a life simulator with an emphasis on crafting or an RPG with an emphasis on exploring.


While the Iron’s Hot is a game about blacksmithing above all else. The main mechanic is crafting various items to use, sell, gift or make more items. Players are given a forge, an anvil, a grindstone, and an assembly table to craft these items and their components. The middle two involve short minigames that mimic a rhythm game and become increasingly difficult as the game progresses. Crafting something out of iron, the most basic ore, is rather forgiving. By the time you reach the rarest material, however, prompts will be thrown at you with lightning speed.

A smithing minigame that uses orange blocks and a moving cursor
While using the anvil, players must press the button at the right time to shape the metal.

It can be intimidating, but the game isn’t sadistic. As you progress, your blacksmith can level up, allowing players to pick a random permanent buff. One of these options is a higher chance at succeeding at the minigames. If you’re still having trouble, the game will let you craft a lesser-quality item. This has little impact on the overall gameplay; a few NPCs will accept nothing less than perfection on a requested item, but most are fine with a subpar product.

A simple knife has been crafted at the assembly table.
Once you have all the materials needed, assemble the item you wish to make.

Perhaps the biggest problem with forging is how tedious it becomes in the late game. The player can mine iron and steel from short cave exploration segments, and there’s never a shortage. Glass, on the other hand, requires a player to use multiple ingredients that are harder to find to make a glass can. This must then be melted in the furnace to create a glass ingot. Recipes take multiple ingots to craft, so you must do this multiple times to get the desired amount of glass or collect all the materials at once before forging the requested item.

A wooden assambly table with tools and materials
Blacksmiths can craft items from recipes pinned to the right of the screen.

The most damning part of the whole scenario is that it’s as if the game knows how tedious this gets. This is because you can entirely skip the minigames once you level up high enough, defeating the purpose of being a game about blacksmithing. All of the smithing minigames already allow you to stack multiple components at once to make the most out of your crafting, so skipping them entirely cheapens the game. It’s incredibly disappointing to witness a fun, unique mechanic slowly turn into a sludge of frustration as time goes on.

Traversing The Map

If the crafting aspect of While the Iron’s Hot brings resource management to the table, traveling the land of Ellian is where the RPG element starts to come into play. Players are presented with a large overworld map covered in fog that they can slowly clear by exploring. As more and more of the land is explored, the blacksmith will find other villages besides Stal to visit, opening up more resources and more quests while advancing the main story. There are also a variety of fun puzzles, side characters, and surprises to be found along the way.

A map filled with mountains, trees and fog
While exploring the island, players will disperse fog and discover new areas.

Although exploring the world is a nice break from crafting, While the Iron’s Hot includes a stamina system that limits the fun. Overworld exploration take a lot of stamina, and the easiest way to regain it is by sleeping. Depending on how much exploration you do, this can be depleted very early in a day. There are two sections in particularly that make exploring frustrating in a way that doesn’t feel organic. Players do gain access to a wagon and an ox (that you can dress up!) which allow you to sleep and forge items wherever you camp, but it’s not enough to salvage the exploration section and make it feel fun.

Upgrading The Town

The blacksmith isn’t just on the island to make a name for himself-he’s also here to restore the town of Stal to its former glory. To do this, players can build and upgrade multiple establishments around the village. This ranges from your own house, forge, and wagon to things like a lighthouse and a tavern. Building these will in turn provide a small benefit of some kind to the player, such as gathering iron for you or allowing you to enchant items, making them more valuable.

Players can select a variety of upgrades to the town.
Constructing new buildings and upgrading them will help the area flourish.

While the concept is neat in theory, the benefits provided by most of these upgrades aren’t anything phenomenal. Buildings provide small quality of life improvements for different parts of the game. Very few of them are even required for story progression. This makes it incredibly easy to skip out on building these locations if you don’t mind those gameplay aspects. Some of the mobile forge improvements feel beneficial, but upgrades require a lot of resources that can be used elsewhere. Making them consequential in some way or having them provide greater benefits once improved would make the system much more compelling.

Special Orders

Every town the blacksmith visits during his travels features a bulletin board. The player can fulfill requests posted by townsfolk for tools like axes, arrows, or swords. Upon delivery, the villager will pay in gold and the player will also receive experience points. This makes it an easy way for players to earn money, since most of the resources needed to make the requested items are plentiful and easily accessible, at least in the early game.

The player meets a strange rat character
Some NPCs are significantly more interesting than others.

Unfortunately, monetary compensation is the only benefit to fulfilling these orders. Most people the blacksmith will speak to are inconsequential. There is no social element to the game whatsoever. Outside of a select few characters, the NPCs are bland, unremarkable, and nearly impossible to interact with outside of turning in quests. It’s a disappointing situation, because a few unique ones do have hilarious dialogue and a lot of personality. Sadly, it’s often more rewarding to just farm the ore and sell it instead of crafting items for the townspeople.


As the player traverses the world of While the Iron’s Hot, they will come across a few puzzles. Most are simple, yet entertaining. A few of them require you to craft something to solve them, which is a nice way of incorporating the blacksmithing mechanic into the exploration system. Some of the more interesting NPCs exist within these quests, too. The main drawback to a couple of the puzzles is their impassibility. One area will not let you leave until you solve it, and it’s frighteningly easy to softlock yourself. Another story-focused puzzle will kick you out of the area you’re in, though thankfully there is a prompt warning you about what is about to happen. While the puzzles are a nice break from smithing and exploring, it would have been nice to see more care put into them.

The blacksmith moves a box over to a ledge so he can continue exploring a dungeon
Exploration often features small puzzles and light stealth mechanics.


The game utilizes a pixelated art style, but that doesn’t stop the game from having moments of beauty. Character sprites and the overworld map are quite simple and leave something to be desired. However, the backgrounds of the areas the player will explore provide a cozy, distinct art style that really helps set the tone of the medieval world set forth by the game. Most villages and dungeons maintain a consistent color palette of browns, greys, and greens that makes the world feel cozy yet practical. This also allows certain more colorful character sprites or important pieces of scenery to stand out when needed. While frames from the game may never hang in a museum, it absolutely gets the job done for the story its telling.

The blacksmith encounters a dangerous foe
The pixel art does a good job at providing nice, distinct designs for important enough characters.


The music of While the Iron’s Hot is absolutely the standout. While in town, it feels comfortable and woodsy before turning whimsical or adventurous when exploring. It is often reminiscent of games like “Civilization”, evoking a medieval touch without becoming too overbearing. Each song is perfectly appropriate for whatever is happening on screen at the moment. It never gets too repetitive, and each track is distinct in what it stands for. While it might not be the kind of soundtrack to enjoy while doing chores, it accomplishes its job perfectly within the confines of the game.

The blacksmith meets an old man with one arm
Drystan is your first friend in the village of Stal.

Replay Value

When it comes to replayability, the game is significantly lacking. There is no New Game Plus for While the Iron’s Hot. There’s also little variation in how one gets from point A to point B in the story. Outside of a few extremely minor decisions during side quests, the only variations in a playthrough would be adjusting the order in which you upgrade the town. Unfortunately, that has little impact on the overall gameplay outside of making certain things easier on the player. The game ends up being a relatively short “one and done” experience as a result.


While the Iron’s Hot is a game with a fun premise and a lot of potential locked behind frustrating game mechanics and a lack of motivation. It’s a refreshing twist to see a different profession than farmers get the spotlight in gaming. Those who are looking for a more well-rounded simulation or RPG experience will surely walk away disappointed. Players seeking a short game of who are intrigues by the blacksmith premise, there’s enough here to entertain you. Otherwise, you might want to leave this one in the forge.

Final rating: 6/10.

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About Kirsten G.

Kirsten has been a fan of video games since she was a kid, though she tends to stick to visual novels and puzzle games. She lives in Texas with her sister and hopes to make games of her own one day.