I’m a big fan of games that offer peaceful experiences where the player isn’t going to get stressed by an endless arrangement of perplexing problems. Sometimes, I don’t want to beat up baddies or face endless platforming challenges… sometimes, I just want to relax and enjoy a calming adventure.
Lost Ember lets players do just that, with its animal-focused escapade leading you across beautiful landscapes and letting you take control of an assortment of nature’s finest creatures. It really makes for a unique and undeniably lovely adventure, though some issues with the Nintendo Switch version of the game do hinder the experience a little.
The tale of Lost Ember is told from the perspective of a lost spirit that is guiding a wolf across the environment, with the spirit believing that the wolf is actually a reincarnated member of the Yanrana; an ancient civilization that once walked the earth. With both the wolf and the spirit without their memories, they travel together and try to learn more about their past in order to move on to the afterlife within the City of Light. The only way to do this is by exploring the world deeper, something they can only achieve by using a unique ability to switch forms between other animals during the adventure.
That is Lost Ember’s unique gameplay hook, with the switching of creatures imperative to unravelling more of the lusciously large open environments. Whilst you begin your adventure sprinting through the grass as a wolf, you’ll soon take on the role of a buffalo, a mole, a fish, and a firefly, just to name a few. Each animal brings with them unique abilities that make them feel different to play to each other, meaning you’ll have to flick between them often if you want to uncover everything within the game world and see the narrative through to its conclusion. Want to uncover all of the collectibles and find the hidden legendary animals in the game? You’ll want to make sure keep switching between them regularly and look through every hidden nook and cranny too…
And that’s about it, really. This isn’t a game that sends you into gruelling combat scenarios, forces you to endure through tricky platforming segments, or challenges you with an array of clever conundrums. It’s all about taking in the game world, swapping between animals, and simply admiring its beauty.
Whilst it may not have the hallmarks of typical open-world adventures within its gameplay, there’s plenty on offer in Lost Ember to keep you completely invested in its world. Whilst there is a path for players to follow, those who venture off the beaten track will find all sorts of wonderful sights across the game’s lovely landscape. Whilst it’s clearly based around natural environments, there are an array of things to see that certainly feel more out of the ordinary – some of which tie into the story, and some of which are just there to be admired as you explore deeper into the far corners of your surroundings. It’s nice and makes every detour in the game feel worthwhile.
There’s no denying that Lost Ember is a unique game and some of its sequences are really remarkable. Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch version of the game suffers from quite a few technical issues, with the frame rate falling to a stutter on occasions, animal models glitching out and getting stuck in the environment (and thus forcing a re-load of the game), as well as some other minor oddities that see the player having to respawn. Whilst I have no doubt that these issues will be addressed by the developer, it was a shame that they were present here. There’s nothing game-breaking, sure, but they were still a nuisance.
It could also be argued that Lost Ember is one of those games where the visuals play a big role in the experience. As expected, the Nintendo Switch doesn’t always deliver in that department when compared to other platforms, with plenty of instances of jagged edges and blurriness to be found in your surroundings. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no doubting that it’s a very pretty game and it does make the most of the Nintendo Switch’s capabilities, but those who want the most glamorous Lost Ember experience might be better off playing it on a different console instead.
Other than those aforementioned technical issues, I really enjoyed my time with Lost Ember. It’s certainly a unique game, whilst the calm and peaceful vibe of the gameplay kept me completely hooked in until the very end. It’s not too long, coming in at around five-hours, but you’ll have felt completely absorbed in the world during that time. It’s just a really pleasant experience and one I’m looking forward to going through again in the future… maybe after a patch has released.
Lost Ember offers a beautiful and unique adventure that’s unfortunately held back on the Nintendo Switch by some technical issues. Are these issues problematic to make the game feel terrible to play? Certainly not, but you won’t be getting the same compelling experience with the game that you can get on other platforms.
Outside of these issues, Lost Ember has its share of special moments. I loved discovering its open-world and switching between creatures felt great, with the game offering this genuine sense of freedom that just makes exploration so enjoyable and liberating. Here’s hoping that a patch with fixes is released sooner rather than later then, because as it stands this gem of a game is a little too flawed to make it essential for Nintendo Switch owners.
Developer: Mooneye studios
Publisher: Mooneye Studios
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Review), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC