Title: Lost Ember
Developer: Mooneye Studios
Publisher: Mooneye Studios
Genre: Action, Adventure
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 22/11/2019
Price: £25.99 – Rapid Reviews was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
If a game tells me I can play as an animal protagonist, my interest is immediately piqued. Add a bit of magic and the ability to shapeshift into other sweet animals, I’m even more intrigued. Place all of this into a natural setting with lush scenery and gorgeous lighting, I have no option but to give the game a go!
From Lost Ember’s trailer, I could already tell it had all the makings of a game I’d enjoy. Thankfully, I wasn’t let down and it had all the elements of an outstanding game. A killer story, beautiful scenery, and of course adorable animals.
Life finds a way
Playing as Wolf, you meet a lost spirit in the form of a glowing red orb. He suspects that Wolf is locked out of the City of Light, their people’s belief of the afterlife; that they are a lost ember. He’s trapped and can’t move past a barrier, wondering why he also hasn’t made it there, so you must help him break through.
In order to break through these barriers in each level, you revisit memories of your past life, before mankind fell and nature thrived. By doing so you learn more about the people and the identity of both Wolf and his companion. What did Wolf do that was so bad they were forbidden from the City of Light? Is Wolf really who the visions show?
The journey to unveil these memories takes you across the fields, lakes, mountains and skies of this breathtaking world, for Wolf is able to take the form of any animal you come across. I loved the entire spiritual element relating to animals, reminding me very much of Disney’s Brother Bear.
This mission to discover the truth puts strain on the friendship between Wolf and the lost spirit, causing great conflict for the story. I was eager to discover who they were and their stories of the past; I could have easily sat and played the game in one sitting, but I wanted to savour it and not rush the experience! There were many twists and turns as well as shocking moments, with a great exploration of morals. Is anyone truly good or evil, and should we judge them from only a few actions?
This philosophical and exciting story was written so well, particularly for the short time frame, as everything was wrapped up neatly. I found myself thinking about it and wanting to play more, but what really kept me attached was the incredible gameplay and visuals.
Wolves, and elephants, and goats, oh my…
The aspect of becoming different animals was done in such an immersive way. The controls were easy to pick up, Wolf being able to sprint, jump, and use wolf sense. It is also compatible with an Xbox controller if you’re not a fan of mouse and keyboard. However, each animal would have a certain ability to help you progress. Helpfully, with each new control or ability, a visual would pop up on screen to aid you. For example, a mole can dig underground to reach a new area that Wolf can’t, and a fish can swim down river.
Changing forms and discovering new animals was a joy. I would often let out a gasp when I saw a new animal, like a baby duckling or a turtle! One of my favourite aspects was that some animals were completely useless, such as a sloth who moved achingly slow, or could do actions like eating vegetables which served no purpose. It was purely for the player’s enjoyment, making the game so much more charming!
Being able to be anything from a mountain goat to a parrot to a fish made exploring the world that extra step enticing. You could swim along the bed of a river and through underwater tunnels, or soar high above huge waterfalls in a flock of birds. Instead of simply controlling that animal, it felt like you were seeing the world through their eyes, which was a treat.
Reclaimed by nature
The visuals of Lost Ember were simply stunning. With a variety of biomes or environments to roam through, each one was colourful and immersive. In one part of the story you’d be running across a field at night with fireflies scattering around you, and the next you’d be charging across a dry orange desert. Everything was lush and beautiful, and I found myself saying ‘wow’ out loud numerous times throughout the game! My particular highlight was flying as a parrot in a tropical paradise.
The cutscenes themselves were so effective; Wolf doesn’t even have a voice actor but you could tell from their actions what they were feeling, and the lost spirit’s voice actor conveyed a great deal of emotion. A lot of the cutscenes consisted of the memories, which were always shown as red, ghost-like figures. They were less detailed than the main game and moved slowly, however it was so striking especially with the use of the soundtrack. There were no words sometimes, but the music invoked emotion, whether that be sorrowful for a sad moment or tense for a twist in the story.
I loved that the only signs of humans that remained were ruins, really giving you that sense that the land belonged to the animals. The art style of the animals themselves was interesting, a mix of realistic and cartoonised, making me even more attached to them as they looked so cute!
There was an occasion where I fell through the map and had to restart the level, and one or two crashes, but overall the game performed well for me. I was expecting there to be some sort of lag when switching animal forms, but it ran really smoothly.
Relics of the past
There’s actually a lot of collectibles to be found in each level, even more of a reason to replay this beautiful game. These can be relics, which provide you with some lore about the world and its people, plants or mushrooms, and legendary animals. I have only found one legendary animal by just playing the game, so I’m looking forward to going back and doing a thorough search to find them!
One very minor criticism of the plant collectibles is that you have to find dozens of the same plant. I would perhaps have liked it to be similar to the relic collectibles, which are all unique and expand the story.
I also can see so much potential in it being an entirely open world game. At the moment, each level confines you to a certain area, and you have to switch levels to go back. Someone on Steam suggested having a sandbox mode, which would be great to really immerse yourself in a vast land with full freedom.
The spirit who cried wolf
I honestly can’t recommend this game enough; it’s short but sweet, with a rollercoaster of emotions in its story and set in a truly glorious world. Its magic and atmosphere is unlike any other game, and the many collectibles will give you another excuse to spend even more time as Wolf!
Rapid Reviews Rating
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