Games

Review: Embers of Mirrim is a Beautiful Challenge

What it is:

An adventure puzzle platformer from Creative Bytes.

The game is out December 7th on Switch for $19.99.

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Fando-review-6.5

There’s a little known movie that came out in the 90’s called The Relic which is based on the book by the same name.  The monster was some kind of cross between a panther, a giant lizard, and the Predator.  The movie itself left much to be desired, but the character design on the monster was show-stopping.  Or at least, it was then.  I’m not sure if it would hold up now.

Bottom line, I’m a big fan of monsters.  If you’ve ever read one of my novels, that won’t come as a surprise.  Because of this, I really wanted to love this game!  The creatures are some of the best and most unique designs — both monstrous and loveably cuddly — I’ve seen in any game not bearing the words “Final” or “Fantasy” in the title.  The visuals here are simply stunning.

The gameplay, however, leaves a little to be desired.  Don’t get me wrong, the game is fun.  It’s a platformer that boasts the requisite running and jumping, a little fighting, but then veers into puzzle-solving territory, which is where the game’s unique twist comes in.

See, the game follows two various tribes of creatures, both very feline in appearance, though one appears to be combined with a dragon-like creature and the other is more of a pegasus-style gryphon.  These tribes are at odds with each other, but in a very “Romeo and Juliet” way, young members of each tribe are combined to form a singular entity.  As you progress through the game, most puzzles force your character to split into light and dark halves to navigate through corresponding energy fields.  Each half is controlled by a joystick on the Switch’s joycons, and it requires your left hand to move in different and contrary motions to your right hand.  Which is my biggest problem with the game: It’s hard.

Granted, this is simply my opinion, and one that is not shared by everyone in my household.  My teenaged daughter plays piano; she’s used to her hands performing separate tasks at the same time.  She’s able to breeze through the levels in ways I couldn’t even dream of and has an absolute blast doing it.

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Story:

This game is another in a series of unrelated games that manage to tell a story with zero dialogue.  It makes sense in the context of wild animals that have no verbal language, but it makes it difficult to understand what’s really going on and why.

There’s a larger, antlered beast that both tribes seemingly deify who manages to keep the peace among them.  Something happens, and an alien threat forces the races together…into a single being.

Controls:

The shoulder buttons split your character apart into two halves, the two joysticks each control one of said halves, while face buttons jump and attack, etc.  The controls aren’t the easiest thing for casual players, but they provide a unique gameplay experience that you won’t find in every game, so determined players should be able to master this.

Art/Animation:

This is where the game really shines.  As you can see below, the characters are not only unique in design, but they’re gorgeous in delivery.  I wanted to like this game so much more than I do, but I have to give mad props for how great the game looks and how unique both its characters and playstyle are.

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Let us know what you think of Embers of Mirrim in the comments section below!

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