As I work at the university, I have two full weeks off at the end of December/start of January for winter break. Suffice to say, I got LOTS of gaming in! Including my first two fully played games of 2020! Yes, really!
The first was Lost Ember! I started this one on PS4 on the 1st and finished it on the 3rd. It’s a relatively short game, with it spanning about 6.5 hours of game playtime. In this game, you control a wolf who is being guided by a spirit to learn about her past and why she was blocked from entering the City of Light, the answers to which may help the spirit also gain entrance to the City of Light.
Through this beautiful, sprawling exploration game, you not only learn about Wolf’s life (as she is called by the spirit), but the spirit’s as well. While doing so, you make your way through a variety of landscapes, searching out memory segments and moving around by alternating between Wolf’s form and spirit jumping into the bodies of other animals that can help you go places you can’t ordinarily.
The animal control mechanism is fun, especially the flying as a bird, swimming as several species of fish, rolling as an adorable wombat, or climbing sheer cliffs in the form of a mountain goat. There is even a segment of going down a bunch of rocky tubs as a fish where you can flop around and jump to pick up items along the way.
The story is tragic, touching, and thought-provoking. It is a game that can have you pondering who was right and who was wrong in the circumstances that are slowly revealed as you find Wolf’s memory. I know I wondered long after I’d finished if there was any way it could have played out differently, a way it could have all worked out for all concerned.
The scenery was lovely, the music perfectly matched. It’s an interesting animation style that is a mix of detail and not. For example, the wolf is not particularly detailed, but the other animals are. And when walking in the snow, the wolf just leaves circles but other animals I tried left proper prints LOL. And the grass is just beautifully detailed, so of course, I was walking around it watching it move with me going through it. (also, screenshots I’ve seen of the PC version appear to be more detailed, so maybe just an issue when they did their PS4 version?)
This game is also the first I’ve seen with some accessibility options for folks with movement issues, which is awesome! You can disable the rapid button presses to fly/swim and disable quick time events. A great starting point for sure.
I did hit a few minor bugs while playing. There were two times where I just got stock and the animal I was in just wouldn’t move at all. No amount of button pressing or changing menus worked. One I was able to fix when another animal came near and I was able to jump to it. The animal I jumped out of remained stuck as far as I could tell. In the second instance, I could only fix by restarting from the last checkpoint. There are also several occasions where the animal I was in would suddenly be half in and out of a wall or fall through the floor, but those all mostly self-recovered.
I admit I didn’t spend all the time I could have to go through and find all the collectibles and such, nor did I get all the trophies, but still it was a nice relaxing start to the year. I certainly enjoyed it and am glad I backed it when it was being crowdfunding.
I streamed my entire gameplay on my Twitch stream and the videos are now up on YouTube.