Make no mistake that today, even with the prospects of a new year and new possibilities, we are a culture of division. From the news to tweets to Facebook comments, division, disagreement, and a resentment of other people have woven into our lives now. It is in dire times like these were creative minds, particularly gamers, band together to reminds one of simpler, peaceful times. This sense of community is in many fandoms, from anime to Furry fandom. However, what if a game can demonstrate the power of fighting as one, to a literal sense? Not as a squad, or unified force, but a creature that must push aside difference for the good of all peoples. This is Embers of Mirrim, from Creative Bytes Studios.
Embers of Mirrim had a showing at PAX SOUTH Vidoe game convention in San Antonio, Texas. It was part of the CEIBM, a group of rising video game developers from Canada. The game was garnering a crowd, due to its distinctive visual look and fantasy setting, as players take the form of a strange fantasy creature. I took the time to play the game and learn more about Embers of Mirrim.
Before I picked up the game, the demonstration movie played. Older games would play a small movie or self-play a demo if you did not press start right away. The film showed a group of two creatures, one group representing light, and the other representing shadows. The creatures can be described as a combination between a cat, a fox, and Toothless, the dragon from the How To Train Your Dragon film series. The two creatures are at odds with each other, divided by their difference and looks. They are kept in check by a head creature, who briefly appears and seems to use his presence to calm the groups. After this small video play, I started the actual demo.
The first thing that strikes is the vivid fantasy setting, which features Asgardian-like features. A temple, reminiscent of the movie Thor, was in the middle of the scenery, followed by an elegant array of stars in outer space, surrounded by a frozen wilderness of trees, and ice. At the beginning of the demo, it appears that a disaster had struck that land. There are only two of these creatures left. As I controlled the first creature, I noticed how polished, fast, and elegant the game performed, from the controls to the animation. This alone is quite an accomplishment, as creating nimble, fast characters have a tendency to lead to fidgety controls that can make it difficult for the player.
The creature ran with incredible motion across the screen, from left to right. Jumping over platforms was also responsive and solid. As I ran, an avalanche fell behind me, forcing me to run and glide to avoid the danger. Moments later, I leaped across gaps and over obstacles. I was really astounded by the gameplay, as the demo progressed. Then I came across a puzzle. The creatures can transform into embers of glowing light, resembling a collective ball of energy. In this form, players can traverse across glass planes of energy and electricity to proceed through the level. It took a bit getting used to, but it was quite fascinating.
Over the next 5 minutes, the demo switched perspectives between two creatures. The other creature, a darker creature, proceeded through similar obstacles as the white one. His ember was a different color, and he had to proceed through the ruins of the main temple, seen in the center of the level.
Eventually, these two creatures meet. Surrounding them is destruction, and it is implied that these two may be the last of their kind. After a quick staredown, the two fight. Suddenly, a ring of light and energy engulf the two, as they are locked in bitter combat. A flash of light brightens the room, and a new creature emerges from the rubble. The two creatures I played as have now merged into one, named Mirrim. Mirrim holds the key to fixing the world and stopping a mysterious force that threatens to destroy the land.
The last part of the demo had me playing as Mirrim, ascending out of the destroyed temple. The embers power came to be incredibly useful as I went through more puzzles. Similar to my time with Semispheres, I was approached by puzzles that had me control two characters at the same time. They weren’t as hard as they sound and simply involved me transforming into two Embers and using that to navigate upwards. There was a sense of unity here, and as I made my way to the top of the temple, Mirrim looked out upon the wilderness, similar to Mufasa standing on the top of Pride Rock. Mirrim looked into the distance to see a swirling, disastrous storm engulfing the horizon. With that, my demo ended.
As the demo concluded, I got to learn more about the game. Embers of Mirrim gained a lot of inspiration from 1980’s fantasy movies. Culturally speaking, the 1980’s are remembered for being a decade of never-ending dreams and adventure. This is evident in films, such as Neverending Story, E.T Goonies, Labyrinth, the Dark Crystal, and Hook. These films always featured wonderful tales of camaraderie, friendship, and fighting evil against incredibly overwhelming odds. Using these inspirations, the team fashioned a fun, easy-to-play, and engaging platformer for many to enjoy.
While my time with Embers of Mirrim was short, it was an absolutely solid sampling of what is to come for this engaging fantasy game. From its unique visual imagination to its gameplay and presentation, Embers of Mirrim is looking sharp. Most importantly, the game’s focused theme of working together and casting aside petty differences will become a strong theme for today’s gaming climate.
Ember of Mirrim is arriving for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam in 2017.