Lost Ember, the exploration game by Mooneye Studios, has been out for almost a year now. What started as a Kickstarter project, quickly became a successful and loved-by-many game. When I got this game in my mailbox, I was instantly super excited. Lost Ember has already received so many positive reactions, I was curious to see what the fuss is about. If you’re still hesitating whether or not you want to purchase Lost Ember, let me help you a little with this review!
What we liked!
- Gorgeous graphics: This is definitely one of the game’s main selling points. The graphics are just absolutely incredible. It’s a story-driven game, so a nice set of graphics to go with this, is a must, in my opinion. You travel through various landscapes and beautiful places, so I enjoyed admiring the art style so, so much. There wasn’t a moment where I didn’t enjoy looking around!
- Intriguing story: Lost Ember tells the story of the Yanren people. By getting a traditional funeral and following the Yanren ways faithfully during your life, your spirit is said to pass on to the City of Light. If you don’t, you’ll stay on earth and come back as a ‘wild beast’. These are the lost embers. You play as Kalani, a young woman who reincarnated into a wolf. Together with a little spark of light, you try to figure out why your new friend can’t find his way to the City of Light. Along the way, you discover so much about both your pasts, I loved it! A plot twist every now and then, together with a beautiful way of visualising the story, made a story that’ll keep you hooked until the very last minute.
- Animal transformations: You start as a wolf, but along the way, you discover new animals. You’ll need to take control (it looked like your spirit went into your animal of choice) in order to progress in-game. A wombat allows you to crawl through little spaces, while a fish helps you get across water and a mountain goat is quite useful when you need to climb some high rocks. Some animals, like the wombat, will return regularly, making them less interesting, in my opinion. Personally, my favourite animals appeared in chapter 6, so keep your eyes open. And don’t lose hope if you’re sick of the same old animals, more are just around the corner! Oh, and by the way, some animals have ‘silly little things’. These are pretty much pointless cute little things you can make them do, like eat berries.
- Collectibles: Lost Ember is an open-world game, but there is a certain path to follow when you’re discovering the main story. If you’re interested in wandering around the map a little more, you’ll be rewarded with various collectibles. These include a variety of relics and mushrooms, so nothing too cool. Keep in mind that these are hidden quite well, so you’ll definitely be busy for a while if you chose to look after the collectibles. I do feel like this adds to the replay value of Lost Ember. Even though there is only one main story to discover, you can dive back into the game a couple of times if you want to finish your collection. There are also six legendary animals to be found. These are just like the regular animals, except that are white glowing versions of the normal ones.
- Soundtrack: A great story is often accompanied by a beautiful soundtrack. I am so glad that this is also the case in Lost Ember. The story can get quite emotional, so a good soundtrack can do miracles. I enjoyed the background music a lot, especially in chapter 6 when you’re closer to the end and things reach an emotional climax.
- Controls: This is only a minor thing, but the controls didn’t alway feel as smooth as I wished they were. I did play with keyboard since I prefer this, so maybe the game offers a better experience with a controller, I can’t tell.
What we disliked
- Bugs: I encountered a few too many bugs and glitches that kept me from enjoying the game to its fullest. My wolf could put his head in a wall, for example, which threw me off a little. When transforming from one animal to another, I sometimes got stuck and couldn’t move for some reason, so I had to restart from the last checkpoint.
- Respawning: When you fall down from a cliff or something, you don’t really die, you just respawn like nothing happend. Unfortunately, when you respawn, you often respawn on the edge again. So, when you make one move, you immediately fall down again. This can happen 2 or 3 times before you actually respawn somewhat decently. Luckily, the respawning happens quite quickly, but this was still really annoying.
I fell in love with Lost Ember within minutes of playing. However, I have to remain realistic and honest: this is not a perfect game. Yes, it’s beautiful, intriguing and keeps you paying attention, but Lost Ember has its shortcomings. The bugs kept me from enjoying the game to its fullest and sometimes annoyed so much that the enchanting feeling disappeared for a little while. Luckily, the graphics, soundtrack and animals save this game, still making it amazing!