Embers of Mirrim is a puzzle platforming adventure that as you taking on the role of Mir and Rim, who collectively solidify into a cat-like creature that oddly reminded me of Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. Mir and Rim are two separate embers that belong to the forces of light and dark, respectively. Now although this journey is relayed with little to no dialogue, the premise is that an elder has foretold of an alien threat that will seek to corrupt the world. Shortly after witnessing a plethora of dangers falling from the skies, Mir and Rim make their way to safety. This opening of the game serves itself as a tutorial that aids you in getting to grips with the basics of play.
Once Mir and Rim reach their safe haven, an unfortunate turn of events sees them both (as aforementioned) bonded into a single form. Despite that they are now as one, Mir and Rim still have the ability to split into two separate embers, and you’ll be playing the game using this unique functionality. Gameplay typically consists of splitting Mirrim into two entities, traversing a wide range of environments, and solving puzzles along the way. Players will hit the left trigger to withdraw Mir back to his green lit state, whereas Rim can be activated in his purple lit state via the right trigger. Movement of each ember is tied to the analog sticks, and much like the activation of Mir and Rim, you’ll be using the analogs to control them individually.
I wont deny that for someone who isn’t particularly good at multitasking, this took some getting used to. There were moments in the game that this system felt just a little bit taxing, but for the majority of play it handles very well. One thing that I immediately want to point out is that the game is full of different coloured mechanics, especially in the later stages of play. There’s absolutely no colour-blind settings to shift these around or swap them out, which in 2017 is a big shame. This however is not the only issue that I have with the adventure at hand, and in fact there’s quite a few problems that truly prevent this from being much greater than it is. The camera being the prime suspect here, and that’s because at certain points in the game it will shift to the most awkward of positions.
This wouldn’t be so annoying if it happened less frequently, but during my playthrough I noticed it on several occasions, most of which at the worst time possible. Other issues include the visuals, which I have to say do far from impress. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a terrible looking game and there’s certainly sections of Embers of Mirrim that do have that captivating design, but for the most part I found the presentation to be somewhat bland and uninteresting.
The same can indeed be said about the story. I have no issues whatsoever when a developer wants to try their hand at a silent narration, but you could at the very least try to help us understand some more of the backstory so that we can bond with the characters. A prime example as to how this is achieved can be found in Ori and the Blind Forest. That’s a game that sets itself up remarkably well, instantly grabs your attention, and makes you care for the protagonist. Embers of Mirrim lacks that almost entirely, and sadly that does hurt the overall experience, or more specifically, the level of immersion.
What the game does do well at however is ensuring you have a decent difficulty curve to rest on. Embers of Mirrim begins (post tutorial) as a rather simplistic journey that doesn’t demand too much of your focus at first. It will slowly introduce new functions and tasks to overcome at a very comfortable rate, whilst retaining a good level of challenging gameplay. With that being said, the multitasking may prove overly tough for younger players throughout the later stages of play. That’s not a bad thing by any means, but there’s no doubt whatsoever that young children will hit that difficulty block when nearing the second half of the adventure.
Puzzle solving is achieved by navigating through the game whilst being mindful of several aspects found within. You will find green and purple nets that you need to manoeuvre through and again, these are subject to the colours of Mir and Rim. Orange nets on the other hand will prevent you from splitting at all, which makes for some mind boggling sections to beat. Movement in the form of an ember is tethered, meaning you only have a short time to do so. To help you with this you can make your way through segments of light and dark energy to give you that extra bit of time and distance. This is all tied together by some other neat implementations such as the ability to utilise devices and other objects to gain the ability to catapult, extend platforms to reach new ground, launch yourself high in the air, and more.
Eagle eyed players will also notice glyphs scattered throughout the game. These are symbol-like puzzles that you draw by controlling both of the embers in unity. The real challenge here is that you need to draw the glyph without stopping, otherwise you’ll need to start over from the beginning and run another attempt. They’re not overly tough to begin with, but there’s certainly some in the game that will demand every ounce of your attention to overcome. There’s one in particular that gave me a heap of trouble due to having to move the embers individually through some very complex layouts. Pro-tip for if (like me) your brain just cant muster the strength to beat it, hold one side of the pad with one hand and get someone else to hold the other side with their hand. Works a charm.
Thankfully the game does house some tight controls that respond brilliantly, so if you do end up biting the dust, it’s not due to wonky feedback. Embers of Mirrim comes with two endings, which adds a good level of replay value into the mix. I wont deny that despite the game’s faults, there’s a decent platforming experience to be had here that’s backed up by a wonderful orchestrated soundtrack. The constant push to force you into using perfect hand-eye coordination as you glide and pound your way through the game is satisfying enough to justify a recommendation, but that only goes out to those that really enjoy the genre. There’s far better puzzle platformer games on the Xbox One Store that weigh in at the same price, that would be better suited to those that only dabble in the genre.
Embers of Mirrim is just about good enough to merit a recommendation. There’s enough content here to justify the price point, and more so when you throw in the multiple endings for repeated play. The soundtrack sets the theme of the game exceptionally well, and despite the fact that the visuals are hardly groundbreaking, the environments you travel through do differ and offer up some well designed sections. Camera issues do present a problem throughout certain points of the game, and the same can be said about the dull absent story. I felt pushed into an experience that I didn’t really care about due to the lack of a meaningful prologue. With that to the side, there’s little else I could pull this game down for. It plays well, there’s heaps of clever puzzles to work through, and a shed load of interesting mechanics to tie the adventure over.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.