Title: Lost Ember
Developer: Mooneye Studios
Publisher: Mooneye Studios
Genre: Adventure, Indie, Story-Driven
Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch (later release)
Official Site: Lost Ember
Release Date: November 22, 2019
Version Tested: PlayStation 4
Where to Buy it: Steam, PlayStation Store, Windows Store
Full disclosure, Lost Ember is a project I have had a close eye on since it was announced. The idea of soul-jumping between animals was a great one that I hadn’t seen before. Paired with its pastel color tones and stylized artwork, I was sold hook, line, and sinker. And, luckily enough, it doesn’t disappoint on the more creative elements. However, some of the more technical aspects seem to have slipped through the cracks in the process.
Here is the synopsis, according to Mooneye:
Explore a breathtakingly beautiful world that nature has claimed back from mankind. As a wolf with the power to inhabit and control other animals and with a trusted companion at your side, you’ll discover ruins of long forgotten civilizations and ancient cultures that tell a story of hope, loss, ambition and failure.
To begin, Lost Ember is beautiful creatively. The color scheme mostly revolves around bright pastels, and it alone really sets the mood for the game as a whole. But when it is worked into this almost claymation-like art design, it just really creates a visual home run. It’s been a while since a game has so successfully used the art style to create the perfect environment for the story being told, and Lost Ember does it impeccably.
On top of that, it has an insightful story to tell, which is written exceptionally well. At times, I was just as desperate to find the answers to the main character’s past as badly as they were. With it mostly revolving around two characters, the player creates a bond with them and genuinely cares about leading them both home.
Jumping from animal to animal is a truly unique mechanic that never gets old. In order to maneuver around the world, the player has to hop into the soul of another animal to dig underground or fly high into the sky around barriers and tight spots. Not only is it fun (and adorable) to experiment with the different critters, but it seems like there is often more than one to get around. So, there’s an element of versatility and problem-solving that are really appreciated. With that being said, it does tend to feel more like a walking simulator.
If you approach Lost Ember as more of a narrative experience, there is a lot to enjoy about this beautiful, little adventure. However, if fans are hoping for a little more than that, they might find themselves disappointed. Once I got in the mindset of more narrative experience, I found myself enjoying it more. But with all the versatility that the animals offer, I would have really enjoyed some more puzzles or a more interactive story that made them valuable for something outside of traversal. It just felt like there were one too many missed opportunities. All in all, it’s a minor complaint but disappointing nonetheless.
However, there is one big complaint about Lost Ember: technical malfunctions. The game crashed a handful of times while running on my PlayStation 4 Pro, and I can’t even remember the last time I had an issue like that. But it doesn’t stop there. More than once, my animal of choice got stuck in a wall or tunnel, which, in turn, would cause me to have to close and re-open the game. While some glitches were more humorous (like a T-posing duck shooting across the sky), it doesn’t forgive the fact that these malfunctions dull an otherwise shining experience. With a little more polish and time, this dev team can only get better and better.
For those searching for an insightful story and something beautiful to look at, Lost Ember is right up your alley. It is an emotionally-investing experience, and Mooneye Studios have done some awesome and unique things with this experience to make it stand out. In the future, this is a studio to keep an eye on, and we can’t wait to see what they do next!
Verdict: When approached as a narrative experience, Lost Ember is something to treasure. Its story is well-written and almost becomes a personal experience because of how closely the player is tied to the main character. The beautiful color schemes blend beautifully with the stylized artwork to create a whimsical yet thought-provoking experience. While I would have liked to see some puzzles or more involved gameplay, I was also satisfied with taking it for what it is. However, game-crashing glitches and other technical issues dulled this shining star for me in the end.
- Well-written story
- Beautiful color scheme and stylized artwork
- Lots of animals create diverse gameplay
- The game crashed more than once
- Other technical glitches
- Would have loved to see puzzles or something more interactive