Ember was developed by N-Fusion, and published by 505 Games back in 2016. It is an open world, isometric RPG, where you control a party and can pause and un-pause the combat. Does this game live up to other older open world isometric RPGs like Fallout or Baldur’s Gate, or newer similar games like Pathfinder: Kingmaker? No, it really does not.
I wish I could say that this game was good. As a massive fan of these types of games, I always love to see new ones, set in new worlds. But this game isn’t fun, or even good, in a lot of little ways that really add up. It is a real shame.
You are a resurrected Lightbringer, and you have been summoned back to life to protect the world and the dying Embers as everything in existence is on the brink of collapse. The world that N-Fusion created, and it’s backstory, is great. Fantastic even. Having a morality system based around the source of your powers, Ember, is also a really interesting idea. The main story and plot of the game is pretty good too, but there should be more to the game than that, things that make me actually want to play the game.
The combat becomes very boring, very fast. It is too repetitive, and your characters are just four stats with what ever three abilities their armor grants them at the time. You can become really skilled with the characters you are using and start having fun with the skills they have and how they synergize. But then you get a much better piece of gear that you need to use to survive, and suddenly you now have terrible abilities, which can really be not fun to use.
There is also the fact that stat increases and the abilities your armor gives you are randomized. So you might find fantastic armor meant for your character whose four stats are arranged in such a way that she should technically be the healer, but the new and awesome armor gives her fighting abilities. To gamble between garbage abilities, or garbage armor, is not fun, and not good game design. It is different for sure, but different is not always good.
Combat further isn’t helped by the fact that the user interface is clunky and extremely un-intuitive. Probably one of the worst I have ever seen in a modern game like this. Yes, Planescape Torment and Fallout didn’t have the best UIs, but they were made back in the 90s. Ember came out in 2016. What is their excuse?
To continue with the game-play, the quests are simple and boring. For the most part they resemble MMORPG fetch quests. Collect and return X number of Y, kill X number of Y, or go and find an X from this guy in area Y. Normally that might be fine, if like I said above, the combat and game-play wasn’t boring and annoying. But they are, so it isn’t fine.
The crafting system is something you can really just ignore, that and it is just super annoying. It is not an interesting trial and error crafting system, it is an aggravating trial and error crafting system. It doesn’t record what works and what doesn’t, and the game almost seems to want you never use it based on how it was designed. It isn’t necessary to proceed, and just causes even more stress and annoyance in a game already filled to the brim with the two.
As for the graphics, yes, the game looks nice (especially for the year it was released in), but there are only about a dozen different areas throughout the game. As for the sound, Ember does actually sound really nice. The ambient sounds and music are pretty good, but after the 387th time of (insert party member name here) saying one of their four phrases after combat has finished, I really started to resent them and wished that they, and all of the NPCs you talk to in general, would just simply be quiet. Suffice to say, the voice acting is garbage.
If you really really like isometric RPGs, or you really really think you will like this game (and have nothing better to play), then go ahead and get the game, try it out. But if that is the case I would wait until it is on sale for at least 50+ % off. I have seen it go on sale for around $1.00. It is not a game that I would recommend, but if you can get it that cheap, what the hell, why not?
Ember is a game that tries to be like the great isometric RPGs of the past, like Fallout 1, or Baldur's Gate, but fails in almost every regard, other than perhaps the world building. Do not buy and play this game unless you are desperate for something, anything, to play.
- For 2016, the graphics were great, and still look pretty good today.
- The main plot of the game, as well as the worldbuilding and lore, are fantastic.
- Ambient sounds and music are actually pretty ok to listen to.
- The crafting system in this game is built on annoyance and aggrivation.
- The user interface, while simple on the surface, is actually a horrible convoluted mess once you are in the menus.
- The voice acting in this game is very, very bad.
- Combat is boring and lackluster, every encounter is a chore.
- Quests are also chores, with the feel of MMORPG quests, rather than quests made with a spark of life or interest.
- Abilities for your characters are limited to 3, and based on their armour. It becomes boring and annoying quickly.
Due to the terrible combat, grating voice acting, horrible crafting system, and all the other general annoyances and greviances, this game gets a 4, propped up only by the graphics and the idea of what they tried to achieve..