Adventure games are a huge chunk of the gaming market, with the most decorated and beloved of these coming out of extremely small studios. My all-time favourite of these has been Journey, but that top ranking is threatened by Mooneye’s Lost Ember.
Breaking the Chains
Lost Ember is the story of two souls searching for a way to reach the promised afterlife oasis of their people, the Yanrana. One is a soul unable to pierce a barrier blocking the way. The other is the soul of a woman named Kalani, now wearing the form of a wolf and accepting of her fate. Since the wolf is the only thing that seems to be able to communicate with the trapped soul, they come to an agreement; she will help the soul reach the City of Light.
In a shocking revelation, Kalani has the ability to possess other animals. This opens up new travel and exploration options, allowing her and her companion to reach the furthest edges of the world. You’ll fly, swim, roll, and dig your way (among others) through lush forests, open fields, and other wonderfully crafted landscapes in search of answers.
The path is littered with unpleasant memories for the wolf. Campfires throughout the world reveal truths as to her past, both the good and the bad. A heartbreaking tale expertly told through the narrative stylings of Kalani’s unnamed astral companion and voiced over flashback scenes. When a story hits me with those gut punches and leaves me stunned for minutes after a reveal, I know I am in for a real treat.
The World is My Zoo
Lost Ember‘s main mechanic is Kalani’s possession power. She can inhabit another mammal for as long as you like and go back to wolf form with the tap of a button. Different mammals will, of course, offer new abilities. For instance, the most adorable wombats can explore small tunnels and tuck in their legs to roll downhill. (I will 100% possess them and just roll around for five minutes because it is so darn cute.) For underwater sections, there are fish and what I believe is an eel. My first encounter with the eel was a high-paced section in which I squealed “I’m an eel!” as I careened down waterfalls and through fast-moving rivers.
Several varieties of birds also exist for our use, all with different flying capabilities. Some stay fairly low to the ground, while others soar so high you’d swear they could reach the sun. When I have the chance to hop into a hummingbird, I tend to take it. Same when I find little ducklings in a pond. Those tiny fluff balls can barely flap their wings and watching their feet paddle is just so enjoyable.
Those are just a few of the dozen or so species included in Lost Ember for you to inhabit. I don’t want to tell you about every single one of them because there is so much delight in discovering new ones for yourself. Just know that you’ll get to experience the world from varying perspectives, adding a lot to your experience.
This is Getting Heavy
Scattered throughout Lost Ember are a few types of collectibles, meaning there is a lot of replay value to be had. The first type I want to talk about are the mushrooms. Each environment type has a mushroom to find. The first one I encountered resembled those most commonly eaten by our favorite plumber brothers. Purple tubular mushrooms like watery habitats and I’ll get sidetracked searching for them whenever I’m in fish-form.
Relics are another collectible item you’ll want to search out. Some of these are relics of this lost tribe, their carved dolls and various tools. But others are nods to some beloved video games. While I ultimately hope to have every single relic in my inventory (gotta get those trophies), right now I am most excited when I find those Easter egg relics.
The third collectible category requires locating and possessing the six legendary animals hidden throughout the game. As of this writing, I’ve found two, one of which is the armadillo pictured below. These are hard to miss as they glow so bright! The only downside is that when you are controlling one of these it can sometimes be difficult to see what you are doing.
If you haven’t guessed already, I absolutely love Lost Ember. There have been a few hiccups during my time with the game. Nothing too big, but a couple of glitches forced me to use the restart from checkpoint option. One of these happened when I returned to Kalani’s form from the animal I was using on some stairs. I “fell” into the stairs and was unable to get out. Another time I got stuck between a wall and a rock. Neither of these are game-breaking issues, and for a team of five people to just have minor problems such as these is a great accomplishment.
Lost Ember clocks in at about six hours per play, depending on your particular style. That’s a pretty decent amount of time for you to experience the story and get to know all the types of wildlife available. Add on a couple more runs to find all of the hidden items and I’d say it is well worth the $29.99 US price tag. If you’re a fan of games like Journey and What Remains of Edith Finch, make sure to check out Lost Ember ASAP.
Lost Ember review code provided by publisher. Version 1.16 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.