Embers of Mirrim by indie developer, Creative Bytes Studios, is an adventure-platformer released on Steam, PS4 and Xbox One. You take on the role of Mirrim, a combination of two distinct creatures brought into one, with the power of both light and dark embers. Using the embers, you are to rid the world of the corruption that is overtaking it, and save your fellow creatures. The game features many unique mechanics, dangers, puzzles and secrets that the player encounters as they progress through a linear world.
Embers of Mirrim does a number of things right, and it starts with the mechanics that make it a good platformer. The movements are crisp, and mastering the controls allows you to navigate throughout the world with precision. Timed sequences force you to make quick decisions, and learn as you go, and dangers like piles of corruption or hostile creatures make precision essential. At one point, a giant bug creature with a long, sharp edge attempts to stomp on Mirrim, and you are forced to time your advances right, or be crushed and forced back to a checkpoint. These and other traditional platform challenges make up the heart of the game, and give it a familiar feeling for fans of the genre.
In addition to traditional platformer elements, Embers of Mirrim includes the ability to split your character into your two separate embers, Light (green) and Dark (purple), with each part controlled separately from the other. This adds another dimension to the game, allowing the player to control two separate characters that can fly around the world and affect the environment and creatures to help your progress. You only have a certain amount of time that you can remain separated, but can increase the time by entering marked areas of a specific color, or by flying through colored diamonds spaced throughout certain sections. While this element is certainly unique, it can be the source of extreme frustration at times. I ran into this often when the game would have you following a certain path with the two embers, and then would have you invert the two. This resulted in a number of repeated failures, and despite completing the game, I still feel like most of those inverted sections were completed by sheer luck on my part.
The style of the game is another area that was well executed in Embers of Mirrim. The combination of the soundtrack with the vibrant background visuals immerses the player in the forest world of the game, and allows the player to embrace their role as the protector of the forest. The creatures’ movements are fluid and lifelike. The stages become increasingly dominated by the blue corruption, which serves as a nice detail to frame your advancement towards the source of the corruption. Secret runes can also be discovered scattered around the map, and when traced with the split embers, create interesting patterns and symbols that provide unique Easter eggs to the main adventure.
The story is one of the game’s problems. The game opens with the two species of creatures that make up Mirrim fighting inside of a large tower. A larger creature of the same species with antlers stops the fighting to reveal a vision of blue lights streaking down from the sky. This vision becomes true not long after, as the blue corruption crashes down on the forest. For the prologue, the player takes on the role of one of the members from both of the two species as they flee the falling corruption and make their way to the tower. Once they get there, they go through the process of gaining each respective ember before the two creatures meet at the top of the tower. During a scuffle, the two combine, creating Mirrim. Mirrim then makes its way to the top of the tower, where they see the corruption raining down on the forest.
Aside from the opening cut scenes, little else is provided to give the player a sense of the game’s story. Only after the first boss does one get a sense that their goal is to rid the forest of corruption, and after a few occurrences of removing corruption encountered in the world does the player learn that they are also saving their fellow creatures. Other than those brief pieces that the player can put together, not much else is given. There is no dialogue between the creatures, and no expository text is used. The rivalry between the two races isn’t explained, nor is how or why Mirrim was merged together. This does leave the game with a kind of empty feeling, and retracts from the otherwise strong environment and atmosphere that the developers were able to create in this game.
Another issue I had with the game was its length. I was able to complete it in a few hours. This may have been because I blew through a number of segments, but that certainly isn’t an excuse for the game. Too many of the segments felt easy and repetitive, and often times, mistakes only put the player back to the beginning of what you could see on your screen. This not only made the game easy to complete, but gives me little reason to want to replay the game, as the few difficult challenges were easy to master in only a few minutes of playing.
Overall, despite the lacking story and frustrating sections of the game, I found Embers of Mirrim to be enjoyable. The environment and atmosphere was relaxing and interesting, and the variety of mechanics, obstacles and puzzles kept the game fresh. I only wish that there was more to play, and more challenging sections that took more than a handful of attempts to truly understand and master. Its length aside, though, I think that a rating of 6.5/10 would be fair for Embers of Mirrim, and I would recommend picking it up for a fresh game that is worth a play through.
Here are Several Embers of Mirrim Gameplay Videos:
Embers of Mirrim is now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC on Steam.