Lost Ember from Mooneye Studios is a story driven adventure which seeks to uncover the hidden past of a wolf and a lost spirit in the form of a ball of light who becomes your chatty companion. The unlikely pair set out on adventure when they realise that they both have a common goal. Humans that have passed away and have led a full and pure life are promised to ascend to the heavenly city of light. Others who seemingly do not meet the requirements to enter are reincarnated in the bodies of animals, possibly in search of an important lesson. We play as one of these souls in the body of a wolf and by traversing beautiful landscapes and uncovering lost memories we seek to learn lessons that will ultimately allow us and our lost soul friend to enter the promised city. Red flares rising from the ground signify memories long forgotten and each one located helps us to uncover the truth surrounding our past.
As the game is very much story and exploration based there isn’t much in the way of puzzles or combat. The mechanics of the game are very simple and take little to no time or effort to master. With a mostly linear path and clear progression markers Lost Ember seems well suited to anyone looking for a casual gaming experience.
Although the protagonist of this story is the wolf the we are also able to take control of any other animal found in the world as and when they are introduced. These animals range in size from elephants right down to tiny grubs (although this one may take the prize for the most useless creature in the entire game), each of these animals are beautifully modelled and all have their own characteristics and traits. Some of these transitions are necessary to unlock areas that would not previously be accessible in order to progress the story. Other animals appear to have no use other than to present the appearance of a more living and breathing ecosystem. These creatures can still be controlled and, although they serve no greater purpose, are still fun to inhabit.
These adorable and lifelike animals provide the ability to view the world from many different perspectives. Each of these forms yields a whole different sense of scale and being able to view the world from of these different aspects highlights the love went into crafting the overall terrain and landscape. Unfortunately this is let down by performance issues such as low framerate speeds and popping objects and textures. In some places the frame rate slows to almost a complete crawl. During my playthrough I was consistently hit with these framerate drops and at times I would arrive in an area before all objects had fully loaded causing whichever creature I was playing at the time to become stuck in the scenery or even fall through the level entirely. The most unfortunate glitch that I encountered was when I arrived in an area and was confronted with a sheer drop off the edge of the world and nowhere else to go. After trying to find a way around without success I decided to reboot the game. Once I had loaded back in I tried running through the same area again and this time a cut scene was triggered, this allowed the story to progress now that the rest of the level had correctly loaded in. These issues were not totally game breaking but with a game that’s main focus is on an adventure experience this really reflected badly.
Despite these issues Lost Ember still some contains some truly beautiful moments. Darting through vast canyons as part of a colourful flock of hummingbirds or traversing the desert with a large heard of buffalo feels incredible. The expansive and vibrant landscapes really come into their own in these moments and these are the experiences that really do help to lift the game. These moments become more frequent as the game goes on and aid in keeping the player immersed and invested in the story. Along with the colourful and visually appealing landscapes Lost Ember also includes some beautiful audio that really adds to the immersion and overall experience. The soundtrack really draws you in and ensures a relaxing and interesting journey throughout.
On your journey you will also encounter collectables in the form of relics and mushrooms, the relics provide small amounts of additional information but otherwise serve no purpose. The mushrooms also have little reason for their collection and do not provide any incentive to further explore outside of the linear path. It is likely they will only get collected when they are directly in the players line of sight. The game also features several glowing legendary animals and although they too have no extra use or skill they do seem more fun to try and locate.
Lost Ember has so much potential to be a real gem but is let down by it’s overwhelming performance problems. There are glimmers of the experience that could have been, if these problems were to be ironed out, especially as the game progresses and the story gains momentum. Lost Ember is well suited to players looking for a casual experience with simple mechanics and an intriguing narrative but only if they are also able to overlook some of the game’s unfortunate issues.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.