Everyone has their own ideas of what happens we die. Most of these ideas are adopted from others, sometimes verbatim, and other times molded into what they desire. In this, two souls are kept from their afterlife and must journey together to find out why.
Lost Ember is one of those games that would technically fall under the walking simulator name if it weren’t for the fact that you control animals with different ways of getting around. You predominantly play as a wolf, which is followed around by a wisp of sorts that represents a soul of someone from your tribe. The narration is provided by this floating soul and is trapped within the world until you break the barriers formed by your past. Viewing the memories creates cracks in the barriers for you to push through, allowing you into new areas to see additional pieces of your life story. While progressing, some areas will require you take control of other animals, such as large canyons requiring you to fly, or unbreakable walls that you can dig under. This feature is reminiscent of Everything, albeit much more limited.
Unless you love exploration, the main thing to keep you going in this is the narrative. Finding out what happened to you, seeing how the other soul reacts, and what ultimately becomes of you two is the driving force. However, if you like exploration, there’s plenty of that here too. In addition to finding mushrooms and relics, there’re also some legendary creatures that you can find, and the game gives hints as to how you’ll do so. But if you want to just rush through the story, that’s an option too. Some animals you can possess are better suited for this type of gameplay, such as the humming bird, whom you encounter early on and travels at extreme speeds with easy navigation.
The stylized visuals often times look great in motion; although there were times that I would come upon hiccups in textures and some awkward environments. The game’s camera would also throw me off by following the animal that I previously was after I returned to wolf form, leaving me in a state of a screen saver following an animal instead of playing the game. Most times it’d revert back to the wolf after a few moments, but not always. In other instances my character model would disappear completely, save for the footprints, depending on certain actions I’d take. While each animal has their own abilities, this isn’t supposed to be one of them. One thing that was constant was the music providing a nice scope of emotions and adding to the experience depending on what was happening on screen.
The game often asks you to explore to fully realize what it has to offer, but it doesn’t always account for where you’ll end up. In many cases, if you choose to change from an animal prematurely, there will be a way out of the situation via another animal. However, these animals don’t always spawn, and if they do, they may leave before you can take control of them. I remember turning it off after one such event on a cliff side since death was my only option out of it, and I really didn’t feel like bothering at that point.
There are plenty of games that want to showcase emotions these days, some being more effective than others. Lost Ember has a lot going for it, but there are too many technical issues that bring it down. Instead of being a seamless experience, you end up wandering around aimlessly looking for certain animals to progress and have to restart due to unintentional road blocks. There’s plenty to like, and patches will likely fix some of the issues, but waiting for it drop in price is likely your best option for the quality experience it’ll provide in the future.
7 out of 10
- Animal Swapping
- Graphical Glitches
- Inescapable Areas
- Unintentional Cinematic Camera
Lost Ember was developed and published by Mooneye Studios. It is available on PC, PS4, and X1 with a NS version currently in development. The game was provided to us for review on PS4. If you’d like to see more of Lost Ember, check out the developer’s site.
Here at GBG we use a rating method that you are more than likely familiar with – a scale of 1 to 10. For clarification, we intend on using the entire scale: 1-4 is something you should probably avoid paying for; 5-7 is something that is worth playing, but probably not at full price; 8-10 is a great title that you can feel confident about buying. If you have any questions or comments about how we rate a game, please let us know.