From the opening cinematic of Embers of Mirrim you pretty much know you are in for something special. But I’m not sure you’ll realise that the following hours would be as good as they are.
An action platformer with more than a smattering of puzzle thrown in, Embers of Mirrim tells the tale of corruption – corruption which needs wiping out. When an ancient power brings together two distinctly different creatures into one highly versatile hero, Mirrim – creating a strange animal hybrid in the process – it is left up to you to help Mirrim restore peace and balance to the wonderful world.
This is done by harnessing the power of both races; one which can glide gracefully through the air, whilst the other is happy to stomp and sprint its way through proceedings. When you combine the two, you’ll find Mirrim is able to utilise the best of both worlds, making his journey a remarkable one.
But that’s not the only trick he has up his sleeve, as splitting himself into two embers – the light and the dark – allows for some of the most enjoyable, cleverly created platforming action I’ve played in many a year.
As a whole entity, Mirrim is controlled via your usual everyday standard platforming mechanics, and even though it all works brilliantly, that alone would probably struggle to raise these adventures above and beyond the many other games from the same genre.
But splitting Mirrim into two, and allowing for some simple yet superb puzzling action, very nearly pushes this game into the must-play category.
You see, when you split your embers into two, each is left with a lifespan of a few seconds, before they are thrust back together. It will therefore be up to you to navigate your blue and green embers through respectively coloured nets which keep the power charged, into and out of Blast Rifts and through all manner of strange mystical objects – Flareflies, Slingshot Rifts and Split Fires to name a few – that wish to help Mirrim on his way.
The embers are controlled independently using the right and left analog sticks, creating an intuitive and endlessly satisfying way to make your way through the platform and puzzle scenarios that are in place. You’ll need to harness the power of these embers too as you split, rejoin and split again at the most opportune of moments, all in order to safely work your way through the world, and the stunning fantastical landscapes, ahead. The controls are spot on, near on all the time, and I’ve never been left wanting from anything that Mirrim brings.
The levels themselves are brilliantly worked pieces of art, with a beautiful Labyrinth feel which sees you negotiating your way from a thawing mountain to an aging forest and across a desolate wasteland. Each has obviously been designed with so much love, attention and detail, that the world will draw you in from the very first moment.
Much of the game is played at your own pace, whether that be fast or slow, but just occasionally things pick up and you’ll need to run for your life through some similarly great constantly-scrolling episodes. There are also a few battles with what can only be described as the now staple ‘end of stage boss’ and these will most definitely test all your ember splitting skills.
But no new gameplay mechanics found in Embers of Mirrim are thrown your way before the time is right, and it is only once you’ve had enough minutes with each of the different game aspects will you really find a big test.
Now, whilst it is a fairly linear title, in fact, there’s only really one way of solving any of the puzzles that are out before you, there are still a couple of reasons that its replayability value is fairly high. Firstly, and if you hadn’t already guessed by what I’ve already told you, it’s hugely enjoyable and I’d have no issues about playing through it all again. But secondly, there are a number of hidden Glyphs which need to be found and completed. These are absolutely glorious additions and allow for a bit of quiet time as you basically play dot to dot with the two embers in order to unveil a pattern. As collectibles go, these Glyphs are right up there with the very best of them.
There are also a number of hidden friends who need rescuing too, and hunting down these guys will only add even more time to your playthrough. The chance to go back into specific levels once you’ve completed the full story is a welcome one too. If only to appease the achievement hunters out there.
Without a doubt, Embers of Mirrim is most definitely clever. In fact, it’s very clever and knocks most other platforming puzzlers out of the park. The fact that you’ll have a massively fun time with the adventures which unfold, whilst taking in its superb mechanics, is just the icing on the cake. It is for those reasons why I am so tempted to give Embers Of Mirrim the highest marks possible. But every once in a while, one thing lets it down. The camera.
Yep, whilst much of the game can be run without a hitch, just occasionally the closely zoomed camera leaves you with a bit of a flick and a less than acceptable requirement to initiate a leap of faith, not knowing what will be your destiny when you should land. Now, it’s never too bad, as the most recent checkpoint will only take you back a little way when the death bringer arises, but with the rest of the game as brilliant as it is, this camera issue does raise its head a bit too prominently.
But, other than the price, which may seem a bit too much for many, that is quite possibly the only issue I have with Embers of Mirrim. You see, everything else about the stunning world is great. The premise is outstanding, the mute story is told delightfully, the controls are super fluid, the platforming mechanics are spot on and the puzzles are just tricky enough to test your skills.
If you’re looking for something that combines both the platforming and puzzling world, whilst trying something a little different, Embers of Mirrim is for you.