Embers of Mirrim is a puzzle platformer that features split control gameplay, with which players control light and dark embers to traverse the world. Is Embers of Mirrim worth checking out? Read our review below…
Inspired by the lush worlds and magical creatures of classic 80s fantasy films such as Labyrinth and Dark Crystal, the developers from Creative Bytes Studios have conjured up a story worthy of Jim Henson’s seal of approval. Conveyed entirely without dialogue, Embers of Mirrim introduces players to a whimsical world where a gryphon-esque species possessing the elemental powers of light and dark has become divided with the passage of time. The two factions of the species are governed by an elder who, during the prologue, foretells of an alien threat that comes from the sky and corrupts the world.
Two members of the opposing tribes, Mir from the light and Rim from the dark, witness a shower of meteors and seek refuge together in The Spire. Players take control of Mir and Rim alternatively as they make their individual runs for the Spire, and this serves as a tutorial for us to learn how to control these characters and use their power to transform from their solid forms to the embers that are respective of their tribes. When controlling Mir, players can use the left trigger to transform to the green “Light” ember, and likewise as Rim the right trigger serves to activate the “Dark” ember. Likewise, while Mir is in the Light ember state they are controlled with the left analog stick and Rim is controlled with the right analog stick while a Dark ember. Upon Mir and Rim arriving at the Spire a corrupted meteor strikes, resulting in the merger of the two into Mirrim. The controls that we learned earlier stick with Mirrim following the merger. Left side of the controller for Light, right side of the controller for Dark. Now, however, we must control the two simultaneously.
For the most part, Embers of Mirrim handles the split controls fairly well, but players will have to be quick at picking up the movement of the thumb from the jump button (A) back to the right stick to control the dark ember. In my time playing the game, I often encountered areas where the dark ember was just a little behind the light because of this delay in controls. I imagine this little snag could be taken care of with button mapping and an elite controller where jump could be delegated to a paddle as opposed to the A button, but even as it is with a basic controller its almost as if the developers took the movement time into consideration when it came to placement of the rifts for the dark ember. While the game is liberal in its checkpoints, a lot of the late game platforming can take some trial and error to overcome. Even though Embers of Mirrim is rated as safe for younger gamers (and the story and characters would definitely be appealing to them), the difficulty of some of the later stages are going to put progress out of reach for younger players. The constant try, die, try again game play will likely cause younger players to lose interest before they get far.
This is especially an issue in the game’s final boss, where even repeated attempts don’t help, as the boss’ attacks are random every time. The final boss requires that its shield be taken down by colliding the light and dark embers, and during its final stage the play field is littered with electrified blue mines. Once players succeed at hitting a segment of the shield, it turns the same bright blue as the mines, causing the mines to disappear into the scene. No matter how careful I was, I would repeatedly hit the mines while trying to dodge other attacks merely because I couldn’t see them. Its worth noting, as well, that with all of the blue, green and purple going on in the final scenes, that there are no color blind assist settings.
Creative Bytes Studios has done an exceptional job of creating a silent world that still encourages the players to care about the characters and events and want to see them saved from the threat that they’re facing. This is even more cemented in the fact that Embers of Mirrim features two possible endings, with the second being available only if Mirrim is able to save all other members of the tribes that are hidden throughout the game.
While the constant do overs and higher difficultly of the final boss battle are minor strikes against Embers of Mirrim, its still safe to say that the developers have created something worthy of the time it takes to master and complete. The attention to details and the overall whimsy of the character designs and the vast environments, coupled with the unique gameplay mechanics makes Embers of Mirrim a satisfying experience.