Embers of Mirrim is a new side-scrolling platformer/puzzle game from Canadian indie developer Creative Bytes Studios. Players find themselves in a world of fantastic cat-like creatures, separated into two groups, light and dark. They are known as Embers. The light cats are called Mir and the dark are called Rim. An unknown evil threatens their world and the two sides are joined together as one creature, Mirrim. Players control Mirrim like a standard platformer, but at times, you must use both analog sticks to control and split into separate life forces that float and then, using precise timing, move these orbs onto triggers. If it sounds intense, it is, and made for a very unique split brain-twisting test of my thumbs.
Embers of Mirrim switches to the dual stick system by pressing L2 and R2, causing your Mirrim to break into two glowing orbs, giving the player a short time to move them separately. Players will have to navigate dangers and choose the correct path to light puzzle globes independently and solve puzzles. After that is done, your orbs meet again in the middle to become a full cat creature once more. This interesting system creates some very unique puzzle and gameplay challenges. Although frustrating at times, once I got the hang of the system it turned out to be quite fun. Just be prepared for some adjusting and a steep learning curve. Those who have mastered rubbing their belly and patting their head at the same time will thrive in Embers of Mirrim.
The tale of Embers of Mirrim is told visually, as there is no text or speech from our alien feline friends. This does make it a tad harder to really feel anything for the characters or the predicament that they are in. In addition, the quality of the cutscenes is no different from in-play graphics, that are rather antiquated to begin with. As such, the cutscenes I felt gave no emotional connection either. Even after a few hours of play, I felt no connection or drive to see what happens next. Creative Bytes Studios really seemed to push for this in the intro, for players to want to aid the Mirrim, but the silent treatment and stale, expressionless faces of these creatures just left me indifferent.
The graphics in Embers of Mirrim as I said, seem dated to me, almost PS3 era. The only thing that stood out was the excellent use of lighting and particles, when your creature separates into two colored and bright balls of light for example. The music was fitting, but did not aid in the lack of suspense, and would get repetitive if I was stuck on puzzles. The dual stick mechanics are the main feature that distinguishes Embers of Mirrim from other games. Unfortunately, the puzzles themselves are all very similar, the solution is almost always the same, and really they are more tests of coordination and ambidextrous skills. Players have to be very good at controlling both halves at once to succeed. This leads to some very frustrating gameplay and made me wish the developer had simply added the ability to have two players play when splitting. Embers of Mirrim would of gained a lot from a two player option.
Embers of Mirrim clocks in at about five to six hours and has no real replay ability. There are major distances between save spots and I found myself repeating way too much content after closing the game and coming back later. The PS3-era muddy graphics and unimpressive music did not help the boring and dissatisfying story. The only things Embers of Mirrim does well is the innovative gameplay with the two analog sticks, and some pretty lighting and particle effects, but otherwise it is a finicky platformer with repetitive and sometimes frustrating puzzles. I do not see most gamers enjoying this new gameplay feature enough to warrant recommending Embers of Mirrim. In fact, the word that best describes Embers of Mirrim, is unenjoyable.
Embers of Mirrim is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. This review is based on a PS4 copy provided for that purpose.
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