Embers of Mirrim Review

By Cindy Minguez,
Creative Bytes Studios has debuted a new title for the Xbox One. Embers of Mirrim is a new take on the platformer with a two-stick mechanic that will test your skills and your patience. Are you up to the challenge?

MirrimMirrim

Two opposing clans, the Light and the Dark, are summoned by The Elder. He shows them a devastating vision of lights falling from the sky, destroying their home. They all then return from whence they came. This disaster happens and two creatures escape the raining destruction by making their way to The Spire. First is Mir of the Light clan who races through obstacles using his ability to glide. Then there's Rim of the Dark clan who can stomp to remove obstacles. When they see each other, they immediately attack, their clans' natural enmity taking over. The Spire, however, has different plans for these creatures. As their bodies meet in battle, The Spire magically melds them into a single creature — Mirrim — who has the powers of both clans. Now your adventure truly begins.

Mirrim can glide, stomp, and sprint. More importantly, he can split himself into two halves called Embers, the primary mechanic of gameplay. The light and dark embers (green and purple in practical terms) can follow paths that Mirrim in his physical form cannot before recombining as Mirrim. This play back and forth is used in many different ways. Purple and green nets force you to travel distances in ember form, whereas gold nets can only be entered in physical form. Rifts allow embers to travel further in open areas; blast rifts let you shoot to an area and sling shot rifts can be aimed to shoot you wherever you wish. You will also have to destroy vines, avoid thorns, and use various helpers along the way to proceed. For example, mushrooms (called Tungis in the game) can pop you into the air like a trampoline.

Light and Dark follow their own paths.Light and Dark follow their own paths.

As the game moves forward, progress becomes increasingly difficult. The puzzle elements are nicely varied and all fairly simple. Where the difficulty arises is from the skill required by basic gameplay. While all the maneuvers are easy to learn, controlling the embers is often far from easy and it's here that the two-stick mechanic comes in. The Light ember is controlled by the left stick, the Dark by the right, and it is often very non-intuitive to keep those two embers on the paths required.

People with the specific skills that allow them to breeze through with two sticks will find the game easy, but for those of us who are less ambidextrous, this can prove both challenging and frustrating. On the upside, even those with mediocre skills (like myself) can get through the game, but it will require repeating some places over and over again, which can really ramp up the frustration level. This becomes especially true during chase scenes, which can become rather frantic. In addition to the obstacles Mirrim must overcome with his abilities, you will have chase scenes and boss fights. Chase scenes aren't that different from regular gameplay except you must be fast. While the game can be quite demanding in what it requires to move through an area, it's also generous with auto-saves, so you never have to go back very far when you die.

Ride the whalewormRide the whaleworm

The graphics for the game are quite beautiful and smooth with no lag or hiccups. The game includes no dialogue at all; the story is told entirely through what's taking place on the screen except for the opening set-up, which the developer provided. The lack of dialogue suits the title well, letting the gamer take from the story what he or she will without spelling everything out. This game's world plainly isn't ours; Mirrim appears to be some sort of winged cat creature though it moves more like a hyena. Once accustomed to Mirrim's uneven gait, it fits him very well and he blends in to the beauty of his surroundings naturally. He and his world well suit each other.

One possible negative for some could be the price. The game's $19.99 price tag is on the high side for an ID@Xbox title, especially for one that can be finished in just a few hours for those with mad skills. With the level of the graphics and the innovation in this title, I find the price fair, but some may want to wait for a sale.

Find all the glyphs.Find all the glyphs.

Lastly, the achievements are reasonable and easily earned for the most part. The only ones that you might miss just playing through on your own are the glyph and follower achievements. Glyphs are reminiscent of connect-the-dots. You will complete the picture by splitting and connecting the groups of light and dark nodes in the correct order. A total of 28 glyphs and eight followers are hidden throughout the game. Some are easy to find but others aren't so obvious, so they can be easy to miss.

The game's chapters can be revisited once complete and each chapter displays how many glyphs and followers have been found on that level, making it fairly easy to search for ones you've missed. You receive three achievements for glyphs and a whopping nine achievements for followers - one for each specific friend you rescue plus one for finding them all. The majority of the rest are picked up naturally through the course of the game. You will earn achievements for completing each area, for using skills or objects a certain number of times, for beating/cleansing bosses, and for finishing the game.

Summary

Embers of Mirrin employs a unique approach to the puzzle platformer, a two-stick mechanic that is both innovative and challenging. For those less talented in manipulating the dual-stick action, the game is often unforgiving. At the same time, the skills provided to Mirrim work wonderfully well together, so even those having trouble can eventually make it through given enough patience. The challenging gameplay is balanced out by the nice variety of puzzles to solve, none of which are very difficult. The graphics are beautifully done and the wordless story is intriguing. Add in the relative ease of the achievement list, and you have a game that many will enjoy despite the frustration levels for those of us less than adept with a dual-stick system. Some may find the $19.99 price tag a bit steep for a title that can be finished quickly, in which case waiting for a sale might be in order.
4 / 5
Embers of Mirrim
Positives
  • Innovative gameplay
  • Nice variety of puzzles
  • Beautiful graphics
Negatives
  • Can be very frustrating
Ethics
The reviewer spent about 6 hours splitting and rifting, earning 36 of the game's 50 achievements. An Xbox One copy of the game was provided by the ID@Xbox program for the purpose of this review.
Cindy Minguez
Written by Cindy Minguez
Cindy has been writing for TA/TT for three years now and is the Assistant Manager of the Newshounds at TrueTrophies. She's an English instructor at a small college and considered a remarkably cool teacher for knowing all about Mass Effect, Skyrim, and Diablo III.