Embers of Mirrim (PlayStation 4) Review

By Thom Compton 27.05.2017 2

Review for Embers of Mirrim on PlayStation 4

It's hard when playing games with similar concepts to other games not to spend time comparing it to those. Because of this, one's perception of how good a game can be is often skewed. Too often, good games get overlooked because gamers spend too much time worrying about the fact that other first-person shooters did this one thing better, or the levelling system in this RPG was so much clearer. Embers of Mirrim will surely be compared to other twin-stick platformers, requiring the use of each stick to control completely different entities. Some games have to be judged by themselves, as their own individual entities. Even if one were to compare Embers of Mirrim to others of its ilk, it still might be the best one to come along, ever.

Embers of Mirrim starts off with an ominous cutscene. The world gamers are brought into tells its story through short cutscenes, always silent aside from some background music. The story seems to be that something is going to come and destroy the world, corrupting everything it touches. It plays out giving a few vague points here and there, but leaves a lot of it up to the player to determine. The ending even works perfectly into this, letting their imagination go wild.

Once the two cat-raptor-dragon beats are fused together, the core mechanic takes hold. Before that, the game does a splendid job introducing the player to controlling the characters, so much so that it becomes effortless even as they are forced to reside in one shell. The platforming here is fairly run of the mill at first, but eventually gets into some very clever sections, even early on.

Screenshot for Embers of Mirrim on PlayStation 4

The split mechanic is the star of the show here, as each entity, or ember, has to be controlled with opposing sides of the controller. Left joystick is green, right joystick is purple. It can't be understated enough how badly this could have gone. The folks at Creative Bytes, however, appear to be experts at keeping a single mechanic interesting through an entire game.

The big concern here is that the player can only stay in ember form for a few seconds. At this point, the embers merge back together, and the player needs to hope they have a backup strategy. They either have to touch the ground, or a colour specific apparatus in order to re-engage their splitting abilities. These apparatuses include slingshots designated to a singular colour, floating orbs that extend the floating time for each colour, or mushroom-like creatures that react differently to purple and green. All of these get mixed together so well that even when a mechanic starts to grow a bit stale, it gets the life reinjected into its very veins.

Screenshot for Embers of Mirrim on PlayStation 4

Equally amazing is how the game finds new uses for mechanics, even hours after they are first introduced. The player will need to think outside the box in order to use mechanics in ways the game hasn't explicitly pointed out. This includes making note of the way certain things interact with the body of Mirrim, the titular feline reptile. For example, one puzzle requires using a previously introduced mechanic in a way that it hasn't been used before. Often, this is very annoying, but Embers of Mirrim does a good job of making its point. It turns out learning this use of the previously used mechanic will be of benefit later, and this sort of foreshadowing of gameplay elements is nothing short of brilliant.

There are also boss fights, and they are sublime. Finding creative ways to expand the mechanics previously learned in that section is the most important part of any boss fight, and Embers of Mirrim nails this. One fight is a little more boring than the others, but it's also the shortest and doesn't overstay its welcome. An early "boss fight" makes such good use of the splitting mechanic, it may be one of the best platforming has ever seen.


 
Of course, the most important question anyone should ask before beginning a platformer is, "How hard is it?" At first, this isn't any harder than you would expect for a platforming game's tutorial. That goes away, though, and the difficulty slowly ramps up. The pacing of the difficulty ramp-up is perfect here, though it should be expected to die plenty early on. The great thing about it is that Mirrim never gets new abilities. While there are new mechanics, the game never hands out any lifelines, aside from an orb that will protect you from death once. By the time the credits roll, it feels like a great battle has been fought. A piece of advice going in: the last boss is hard. Hard meaning, please do not throw your controller; it may take a little while to get it.

Some of this difficulty comes from the fact that this is a 2.5D game, and the camera has a tendency to move. While it may be positioned in a normal 2D angle at one moment, a chase might begin and the camera swings about halfway in front of Mirrim. This might be jolting at first, but it allows the player to see the leviathan that is chasing them. Every camera move makes sense, and adds a good degree of tension to these moments, making for some of the best platforming segments the game has.

Screenshot for Embers of Mirrim on PlayStation 4

The world that Embers of Mirrim is set in is gorgeous, though it may be the only point of issue the game has. It's stunning, but there were a couple of times trees looked like they might have been stolen from a PS2 title. Mirrim also doesn't have a lot of facial expressions, though it still manages to convey how it's feeling just fine. Everything else looks breath-taking, and even the feline reptilian creatures that populate the world feel incredibly real, despite not emoting much.

Beyond the main game, there are trapped companions to be on the lookout for, and glyphs. Finding a trapped companion is easy enough, but the glyphs pose an additional challenge. Fans of Okami may remember the Block guards, and the constellation puzzle they presented in order to get past them. Glyphs are similar, requiring the player to follow a very distinct path, with each ember separated, in a very precise order.

These generally aren't too bad, but eventually get downright ridiculous. It's a nice way to hone your left/right skills, and serves no purpose than to perhaps make the gamer better at the core mechanic. One of them, later in the game, is absurdly hard and probably not going to accomplish much more than breaking a controller. Still, it's a nice distraction. Saving companions is a bit more boring, as you just need to end the corruption on them by holding the separation buttons for a moment.

Screenshot for Embers of Mirrim on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

10/10
Rated 10 out of 10

Masterpiece - Platinum Award

Rated 10 out of 10

Embers of Mirrim came out of nowhere to be one of the best platformers in any console generation. It will give the player the sense they can do things they never thought possible, and the feeling of self-satisfaction upon beating that boss, finally crossing that tricky section, or reaching a new area is so profound here, it's stunning. Even if you aren't a fan of platformers, this one is a must-try.

Developer

Creative Bytes Studios

Publisher

Creative Bytes Studios

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Well, this has caught my interest now.

Yeah, I had my eye on this anyway, but I had no idea it'd be THIS fantastic. Definitely going to check it out.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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