Lost Ember Review
Before I start I just want to say that I won’t be discussing too much of the story of Lost Ember. In a game with so much emphasis on its linear path and uncovering mysteries from the very start, it would be amiss of me to shatter the expertly sculpted narrative with some crass review commentary. All I can really say in that regard is that this game will give you as much as you put in. You will find highs and lows, depths and joy, in a world that drips with beauty and serenity.
If you, like many of us these days, get up before the sun rises on a cold winter morning, commute in heavy traffic, sit at your desk clock-watching for hours, then travel home in the dark again feeling worse for wear… Lost Ember may be the thing that keeps you burning. When the first RPG games were hailed as a new form of escapism there was such a capacity for multi-layered worlds with choices and conflict – much like our own. Years of development have lead to this. True escapism with peace at your side and a gorgeous world to explore.
There is no conflict or tension. No puzzles. Nothing makes you wait or scratch your head or jump to the edge of your seat. But there is a feeling cultivated by Lost Ember that surrounds you with warmth and embraces you like an old friend. The controls are intuitive and the vivid environments sing with life, calling out for exploration. The voice acting is comforting and genuine. There is something overpoweringly meditative about raw nature being viewed through the eyes of the natural world itself.
Lost Ember is the kind of game you will probably be able to judge pretty quickly. It may not be for you; it is slow and self-guided and relies on narrative more than gameplay to enthrall. But for those of us who need a little more peace, a little more beauty, it will open your eyes to the therapeutic potential of games. Although the price is perhaps a little steep for the content, the technical crafting of the game goes some way toward full immersion. Leaves blow as you move, and lights have a beautiful effect on the textures around them.
Traveling between animals is a gorgeous touch that allows the player to see a broken but stunning world through the eyes of its longest inhabitants. Each animal has its own quirks – they don’t have any bearing on the game, but they’re impossibly cute. My little wombat was running around for a good hour, munching on berries, rolling down hills, cuddling up to his pals, and sleeping before I realised I actually had a game to play. I admit, I was also shrieking the whole time at just how cute the little weirdos really are.
Another one of those games that have to be seen to be believed – fly, swim, roll, or just scamper around this long-lost world in search of answers and companionship, and you won’t be disappointed. For all the bugs (and to be fair, there were a few), Lost Ember justifies itself and allows even the most seasoned gamer able to laugh any issues off. Sometimes you may end up inside a log or trapped in slow motion, but restarting from a checkpoint is painless enough.
Dying also doesn’t exist, with your creature being quickly reincarnated the moment you lose your footing or fall off something. Nothing should present an obstacle and you can choose to roam around collecting mushrooms and artifacts should you wish to. There are many seemingly pointless tasks you can engage in, an exercise in mindfulness, perhaps. Something to ground you so you don’t get lost.
Lost Ember is comfort solidified and crammed into your PC, waiting for you to return home like a faithful animal. It’s better than a warm cup of tea; it’s full of life, colour, and sound. It relaxes the mind but consistently stimulates, with new paths around every corner and the full glory of nature to explore. If you need a game in which to lose yourself this winter, then pick up a copy and settle in for the night.
[Reviewed on PC]