Nature claimed back the post-apocalyptic realm of a fallen civilization. Play a wolf and possess other animals to uncover your destiny!
Lost Ember is a “story-driven exploration adventure” that promises to take you on a journey to discover the mysterious disappearance of an ancient civilisation. With only a few days to go on its Kickstarter (it closes 14th November), Lost Ember has smashed its initial goal of €100,000 with contributions currently at €255,000.
The preview build (Pre-Alpha 0.1.6) lets you take control of a wolf, tortoise, and bird as, guided by a spirit, you begin the journey to “uncover your destiny”. The preview essentially has you walk from A to B while your spirit guide gives you some vague exposition. As the wolf you can run and jump up very small ledges, you then possess an animal reminiscent of a tortoise that might be a pangolin, in order to burrow under an obstacle. After a brief sojourn as the wolf again you get to possess a bird and soar into the forested hills where the preview ends.
How does it play?
The actual mechanics of the game are minimal as each of the animals essentially offers a different way to travel through the world and that’s it. The camera rotates on an axis a few meters behind the animal you control. When using a mouse it does at times feel as though you are in a chariot being pulled wildly behind the animal making control slightly awkward. When using a controller the camera was much more stable and the system seemed much more suited to this method of control. Is clear that this is a game intended to rest on its story rather than exciting gameplay (even jumping is locked into contextual moments).There was nothing to do other than progress through the world as snippets of exposition are delivered by your spirit guide with the occasional pause for a cutscene. I had to do no exploring or discovery of my own as the story was simply delivered as I progressed. Perhaps in the full game you will be required to explore in order to uncover the story as it was not apparent in the preview.
The game looks good, though as this is a very early build there were several graphical glitches and some tearing. Despite these glitches, Lost Ember looks good (though not quite as good as seen in the gifs on their Kickstarter), the world is bright and colourful (well mostly green and white). It’s a shame then there is nothing hugely exciting to look at in the preview. The game certainly has moments where it wants you to look and be awed. The problem is, it often keeps things in the distance obscured and out of focus. When you finally get to some ruins of the fallen civilisation, most of the ruins are out of focus in the distance and you only really get a look at an uninteresting stone structure. It is only at the very end of the preview as you soar into a forest as a bird and around you birds soar out of the trees, does Lost Ember tease what visual delights the full game might hold.
It seems Lost Ember will live or die on its story. The basis for the story seems to be that a harmonious civilisation has disappeared. You wake up as a wolf and go off to discover what happened. The preview lacks any real hook to get you intrigued. Who “you” are is very unclear and you are simply told that there was a civilisation and now it’s gone. You are shown a few bland and out of focus ruins and that’s about it. Sometimes less is more when it comes to story telling but in this case, the preview left me completely uninterested in the finding out more.
Lost Ember’s preview is “nice”. It is a bit like going on a pleasant walk but without the exercise. For five to ten minutes you travel through pretty environments as soothing music plays softly in the background. But, the preview failed to get me interested in the story, there was no adventure, and there was little exploration to be done in the linear path you follow. As a result, you’re left with a “story-driven exploration adventure game”.
Played on PC:
OS: Windows 10,
CPU: AMD FX-8370
GPU: R9 290
Input: Mouse & Controller
Lost Ember Pre-Alpha Preview provided for free by Mooneye Studios