Rubbing your stomach and patting your head has always been one of the greatest exercises in multitasking. Getting your brain to process two separate tasks simultaneously is surprisingly difficult. Creative Bytes Studios is looking to put you to the ultimate test with the new platforming adventure Embers of Mirrim. Jumping through the world as two creatures that have been combined into one, you must use the powers of each simultaneously to traverse the dangers as you cure the corruption plaguing the land. Embers of Mirrim is not only a competent and beautiful game, it is challenging and fun in a way that I haven't seen in quite some time.
Starting off simple and ramping up, Embers of Mirrim knows what it's doing in terms of teaching the player the mechanics of the game. The main conceit of the gameplay is that you can separate into two different colored orbs that float for a short time. It starts you by simply separating off in two directions. By the end of the game, you need to not only keep track of which orb goes where, but the on-screen obstacles you need to avoid. The final challenge of the game even had me doubting momentarily that I had the skill necessary to complete it. Thankfully, the game does such a fantastic job of introducing mechanics and then having you practice them, that by the end of the game you'll be surprised at how good you get at multitasking.
There is not a single bit of dialogue in Embers of Mirrim. Instead, since the main characters in the game are cat-like creatures, the story is played out without words and has to be inferred by context. This works very well for the story they have set out in Embers of Mirrim. Instead of forcing a story where you need to memorize a bunch of new terms, it simply lets you come up with some assumptions on your own. Imagination is often underrated, especially in video games, and I have to applaud Embers of Mirrim for allowing me to use my own in interpreting what the events of the game mean without feeling the need to outright explain it.
It would have been easy for Embers of Mirrim to introduce a few game mechanics and then just base the entire adventure entirely on that. Instead, new mechanics are introduced at a steady pace throughout the entire game. Some of them are better than others, but I was surprised at how cleverly implemented they all are with the puzzles created by the developers. The earlier mechanics are a little overused at the beginning of the game, but it's nice because those moments are used to acclimate the player to thinking about controlling two different points at once.
There are some moments where the visuals in Embers of Mirrim look a little blurry. That being said, the overall design is quite pleasant. The scene with the giant worm-thing in particular is really nice. I do wish they could have done a little more with the variability of the locations. It seems like most of the game either takes place in a jungle or a cave, but what's there does look good. The game is also fairly short, but it doesn't overstay its welcome, which it could have easily done.
Throughout the game, Embers of Mirrim has thrown in a couple of different kinds of collectibles: constellations and buddies to rescue. The constellations can be amongst the most difficult parts of the game, requiring you to trace very specific paths with your two orbs. Some of the latter ones even took me upwards of twenty minutes to get just right. The buddies that you're rescuing also manage to serve a story-related purpose, as you need to find them all to see the real ending of the game. This is an obnoxious concept, but with chapter select it's not hard to go back and get the ones you didn't the first go-around. For my trophy-hunting colleagues, this is also a great game to rack up some trophies as most of them are granted for just completing the game and the rest from the collectibles.
- Game mechanics are fun and taught well
- Difficulty is challenging, but achievable
- Story leaves just enough to the player's imagination
- Visuals are occasionally a little blurry-looking
- Real ending requires collectibles
- More environment variety would have been nice
It has been quite a long time since a game has challenged my brain in the way that Embers of Mirrim managed to do. This is not to say the puzzles are difficult to solve, but the act of solving them by controlling two separate points on a screen is a lot harder than it sounds on paper. Embers of Mirrim does a great job of preparing the player for the challenges to come and gives a satisfying experience from start to finish. Once my brain stops smoking from that last boss fight, I may even go back for some more. Embers of Mirrim is available now for the PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Promotional consideration provided by Reverb Communications.