LOST EMBER from MOONEYE
This is a BETA PreView (On STEAM £25.99)
This may not be what you want to hear about a PC Steam game, but this is a gentle, peaceful game of exploration.
As a wolf you trot around a sandbox-style game where free roaming is something you can do on the ground, under the ground and above the ground.
Humankind has all but disappeared and the animal world is worried. One intrepid wolf, along with a friendly spirit, take it on themselves to follow the trails of the humans in the hope of a favourable discovery, perhaps one they can do something about?
You take on the rôle of the wolf, controlling it throughout his journey using the WASD keys along with assistance from the mouse and mouse buttons.
When you get to meet up with other animals you can [concentrate] and take over the body of one of them. This means that you have the advantages each of these animal types has to offer. Also by pressing 1, 2 or 3 you can find their 'fun move' (rolling over, going to sleep etc). Onscreen you are shown an UP arrow for sprinting, however there appears to be no actual sprint ability and the UP arrow, or any of the arrows, have no effect, they don't even move the current controlled animal.
On your journey you can locate items of interest, scoring points as you go. There are three types of special mushrooms, seven rare/elite animals and seventy-seven Relics. In the three hours I have played I have found two Relics and 2 of one type of mushroom, but I have had a lot of fun running round as the Wolf or one of the Groundhogs, flying as a Duck of some kind and flying as a number of different colour Hummingbirds.
Mushrooms can be found near large groupings of birds, especially Hummingbirds, Relics are often found in ruins or in deep greenery, usually noticed as a small red glow, but there are a lot of non-relic red glows you will also have to investigate.
The story is a meandering tale based around the populace of the CITY of LIGHT (not referencing either Paris, France or Los Angeles according to Jim Morrison) and two tribes, Kalani and Yarana. Some people were not allowed into the City of Light, the wolf (which you discover is also known as a Soul Wanderer) being one of them. In a dream sequence the wolf is seen as a human, the leader of the Yarana or at least a Village Chieftain.
Dream sequences are brought on when certain positions/places are located. They often show one or more humans on their pilgrimage and you get to follow them for a short distance until they dissipate. Dream people and animals are shown as pink, ghostly figures. Do take note of what these ghosties are doing as they often lead you to a successful find.
Regions are surrounded by a barrier of shimmering red curtain. You can pass through this curtain but you get nowehere doing so, you have to finish what is required in the region (not that there is any notice to say you have completed the region) until the curtain looks cracked. Once it appears like that you can smash through it into the next region - there are regions within regions within regions each somewhat the same as the previous but generally alos somewhat different.
If you hit [Esc] you get a list of options, Return to Game, Exit, Restart from Previous Checkpoint etc.
The thing is there is nothing that appears onscreen to let you know you have passed or reached a Checkpoint, except of course the Red Curtains but even then 'Checkpoint' doesn't appear onscreen to let you know.
Annoyingly there is no MAP. A map would be very much welcome, even a compass would help.
I have, as I said, played three hours so far. I have enjoyed what I have been doing but I don't feel any pressure to reach the end, it is more like a Sunday play through a country, wooded, park with waterfalls, lakes and numerous creatures. I have had no fights, nothing that has killed or injured me, no buttons not to push or traps to dodge.
Graphically this is a beautiful game. It is not a game of survival, and as yet, despite being informed early on that the Yarana and the Kalani are in opposition, nothing untoward has occurred between these two tribes, well nothing I have discovered or discerned as yet. Wolf appears not to need sustenance, there are small furry animals and freshwater lakes a-plenty but Wolfie takes no notice of them.
Is Wolf a ghost? a Spirit? a God-figure? a Human in the After-life? He/She could be any of them.
I love that this is mostly free roaming even if by going off-track I have found very little of use. There is nothing to find, nothing to collect, no backpack or bags on belts to carry things in, it's great, weird, wonderful, totally unusual, possibly unique in the world of PC gaming - at least I haven't come across such an enjoyable 'nothing' before.
I am running a fairly good games-based PC with, I think, 16 GB of RAM, but throughout play there were times, lasting up to 30 seconds, of severe lag, where whatever animal I currently was, on the ground or in the air, the game froze, though the little fiery spirit continued to move around on its own accord. If this happens to your game simply wait until you discover you can move again - basically the game needs to catch up.
If / when I find something else of note I will amend this review, but until then I think there is enough here, particularly via my screenshots, for any prospective player to make up their mind whether it is the type of game they will enjoy. As a hint, if you are looking for a fast paced all action combat game, look elsewhere. If you want a gentle, probing adventure, like reading a romanticised novel where things are mostly rosey but you expect a twist somewhere along the way, then this is the game to emulate that. Is there are specific ending? Is there something I can do to change the fortune of Humanity? Am I going to remain a shape-changing animal or will I get my human form back and lead my people again?
From its high point up in the rocky crags Wolf looks across the ravine towards what may be the City of Light. It looks a long way away so in my next session I shall attempt to find the way there.