Lost Ember (PlayStation 4) Review

By Eric Ace 03.02.2020

Review for Lost Ember on PlayStation 4

Lost Ember is a third-person exploration and adventure game designed and published by Mooneye Studios. This narrative-driven adventure has players take the role of a wolf who can take the form of various animals to continue moving forward. It is a relaxed, experiential title that players looking for a more casual-friendly time will certainly want to check out.

Lost Ember is full of heart and character. From the beginning, it is obvious the developers put time and care into this. Taking the role of a wolf that does not remember its past, you embark on a journey slowly recovering your memories as a human in an earlier time. Along the way, the wolf gains the power to transform into other animals to get past various simple puzzles. To get it out of the way up front, Lost Ember can best be described as a casual, experiential game. This is not to say it's not good, but do not expect any significant challenge, or anything similar. There is no B.F.G. to shoot, no levels to grind, no super sword to beat out of the hidden boss - it is just a wolf, a glowing spirit for company, and an adventure through a colourful world.

Screenshot for Lost Ember on PlayStation 4

Compared to huge studios the graphics are not comparable, but for the style the developer has gone with here (almost a pseudo-cell shading) it is actually very good. Some of the canyons that hem the player in are simplistic, but there are plenty of overlooks, lakes, rock formations and so on, that produce a type of 'wow' factor first seeing them. A compliment is in order for the way everything comes together very well that actually belies somewhat simpler textures.

The core gameplay revolves around moving forward, finding animals to switch into, and unlocking story segments. Typically, the areas are wide open, allowing for some small exploration before herding the player into narrow tunnels or canyons to get to the next location. Often this is where the animal changing comes in, such as changing to a wombat to get through a small tunnel, to a bird to fly, or to a fish to swim. In some extent it harkens back to an old Nintendo 64 game Space Station Silicon Valley that used a similar varied-animal gimmick.

Screenshot for Lost Ember on PlayStation 4

Unfortunately, as cool as this mechanic is, there is just little reason to do it short of passing simple puzzles then changing back to the wolf. There are some nice small touches like the animals being able to do actions like roll around, eat food, spray water and so on, a further indication about the casual nature of the game. All too often after transforming into something, walking past an obstacle, there is nothing else to do and then just change back into a wolf. The story is interesting and while personal, it felt like it missed some great potential.

Taking place after the fall of man, the journey is through wilderness and slowly finding memories of your past as a leader of tribal group. This part of the story is okay, but it lacks much connection to the overall background of the game with the fall of humanity. While this aspect serves as the background, and would have been awesome to expand on, it does not get touched on too extensively. This was unfortunate, as this is in general a fairly unexplored theme in the medium.

Screenshot for Lost Ember on PlayStation 4

There are great things about the game, namely the art direction and the general flow with exploration. What holds back Lost Ember from being really good, is a sense of not wanting to commit to anything or demand anything out of the player. By being excessively accessible and over-explaining simple plot points, it ultimately fails to reach a depth it more than was capable of reaching.

This is perhaps the single largest thing holding this game back, is it possesses such quality, then fails to deliver on the promise of an outstanding experience. It's quite good, but it lacks the element to truly push it over the edge into greatness. Had the animal-changing been more necessary, and had the story been deeper and perhaps more nuanced, this could easily have been something truly great. As it is, it is still a highly enjoyable deal, but slightly plagued by its casual experience spilling over a little too much.

Screenshot for Lost Ember on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Great graphics, a compelling experience, and overall heart, paint the general picture of this adventure game. While some aspects of the story go unexplored and the animal-shifting aspect largely goes under-utilized, these are not enough to distract from a positive experience. Gamers need to know going in that Lost Ember is a very casual-friendly experience, but one that is still well done. The only thing holding it back is a lack of truly diving into the mechanics presented, or truly investigating the story themes brought forth.

Developer

Mooneye Studios

Publisher

Mooneye Studios

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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