I’m going to be completely honest here, when I sat down to play Embers of Mirrim for the first time I wasn’t expecting a great deal. All I had really seen of the game was some generic looking plaforming and an interesting winged-cat-like creature. So, it’s fair to say I was pleasantly surprised when Embers of Mirrim took me on a challenging magical adventure through a stunning world that has been plagued by corruption.
The underlying narrative of the game isn’t in your face or spoon fed to you as you make your way through the enchanting environments; instead it’s delivered through non-speaking visual cutscenes that seamlessly blend in and out of the gameplay. The story here is one of good vs evil, or as the game portrays it, light vs dark. At the beginning two of these cat creatures are shown a vision by their elder, the vision shows that several meteors will crash into their world and corrupt anything this new entity comes in to contact with. The creatures that are shown this represent different side of this unique feline race. Mir is white in colour and represents the light, Rim is darker in colour and represents the dark side (not in a Star Wars like fashion). After experiencing this vision the two felines are faced together, bringing about the creation of Mirrim.
After playing through the short intro, Mirrim is shown just how much of their land has fallen into the hands of corruption, with a huge dark crystal representing the heart of this corruption, so, as you’d expect, Mirrim does what every cat-cross-dragon creature would do, sets of to end the corruption for good. The over-arching story here feels like something straight out of an 80’s fantasy movie and the game does a great job of continuously kicking-up whiffs of nostalgia throughout it’s roughly 4 hour adventure.
While playing as Mirrim you’ll traverse various platforms, glide down deep caverns and evade some pretty ferocious beasts, all pretty standard for a platforming game. The real unique element to the gameplay is the ability to split into embers and any given point, allowing you to reach places outside of your normal jumping ability. Towards the beginning of the game the integration of these puzzle-like ember section is very welcoming, and does a great job of allowing you to become accustomed to controlling two embers at once, each assigned to a different duel stick.
It’s doesn’t take too long for the difficultly to start ramping up. However, this isn’t done in a laugh-in-your-face impossibly hard fashion; instead developers Creative Bytes do a brilliant job of gradually introducing new mechanics, all of which wonderfully work well together and end up creating a enthralling combination of tricky platforming and coordination-challenging puzzles. On a few occasions I was concerned that the gameplay was going to start feeling repetitive, however, as soon as this thought popped into my head I was given a new puzzle to solve or element in the environment to interact with.
The environments that Embers of Mirrim is built around look truly stunning, from the atmospheric forest where light struggle to pierce through the trees to a magical looking cave plagued by crystals of corruption; everything in the background looks beautiful. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Mirrim or any of their cat-like friends. Although the animations of the felines are pleasant enough, visually they just look a little jagged and unpolished. In the close up cut scenes the character model almost look plastic, with a weird shiny finish to their skin. Just to be clear, the characters aren’t horrible to look at, but the brilliant lighting and stunning backdrop do them no favours in highlighting their almost unfinished look.
Embers of Mirrim completely took me by surprise. The games visual art style and story of corruption really brings back those 80’s fantasy movies memories, I mean the only thing it’s really missing is Falkor himself. The platforming isn’t the most challenging you’ll play through and neither are the puzzles, however, the clever integration of both combined with the unique dual stick ember controls, Embers of Mirrim certainly isn’t an easy adventure. Embers of Mirrim may not be a contender for game of the year, with that said, it’s a game i’d recommend to anyone looking for a magical and unique adventure.