New Game to Check Out: Ember (Now Available on Steam)

Ember — which was originally supposed to be an iOS game, I gather — bills itself as “a homage to classic role-playing games (RPG)”:

A passion project 10 years in the making, Ember is a homage to classic role-playing games (RPG). Enter the world of Ember as a resurrected “Lightbringer” summoned to protect the dying Embers as the world is on the brink of collapse. Beginning in the Deep Barrows, traverse vast environments divided between aboveground and underground realms – ranging from lush forests to dry deserts and dark abysses – to reach the City of Light. See how the story unfolds through encounters with strangers by making pivotal decisions about your own destiny.

Key Features
  • Classic-style RPG with 30+ hours or epic adventure
  • Epic storytelling filled with diverse gameplay enabling players to choose their path
  • Engaging party-based real-time combat system with tactical pause
  • Over 65 combat skills for the player to use in customized battle party strategy
  • Encounter hundreds of NPCs with their own tales to tell
  • In-depth crafting system, from baking bread to forging magic weapons
  • A seamless world with over 20 handcrafted environments and dark dungeons that are fully interactive and feature movable objects, weather changes and day/night cycles
  • Adventure with different companions with their own backstory quests

You can check out the game’s trailer above. Graphically, the game looks nice; it’s not cutting edge, but the visuals are still colourful and gorgeous, and the environments look well-crafted and varied. Here again, we see the use of formalized, menu-driven crafting rather than in-world object interactivity, but there is still a bit of Ultima evident in this game’s design; objects in the game are moveable, and there’s both weather and a day/night cycle (take that, Divinity: Original Sin!).

Ember is available on Steam; its regular price is $8.49 USD, although at the moment it happens to be available for 15% cheaper than that.

(Hat Tip: Infinitron Dragon)

6 Responses

  1. Looks nice graphically, but lost me at originally designed for iOS and the real-time combat.

    • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

      Technically, it’s RTWP (there’s a pause feature), so it’s a step up from U7 at least.

      I’m not sure how much of its iOS origins still remain, though I think that explains the lower polycounts on the 3D models. The crafting UI looks more purpose-built for mouse, though.

      • And that’s not sweetening the deal for me. 🙂 I always see RTWP as an admission that it probably should have been turn-based in the first place, or else it’s an attempt to appeal to both sides. Again, in trying to please all, you usually end up pleasing none. Designers should learn to pick a side and stick with it when it comes to mechanics instead of trying to cater to everyone. They need to design with conviction.

        Ultima VII is actually better in this regard because they at least picked a side and stuck with it. I would argue the wrong side, but at least they didn’t make the mistake of trying to cater to every type of RPG player.

        I will also say that in all these years, I’ve never once heard an RPG fan laud RTWP. I’ve seen them excited about all turn-based or all real-time, but never RTWP. Designers should take note.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        Heh, whereas I like RTWP. I would normally agree that turn-based is the better solution (versus pure real-time) in games with a fixed perspective. In games where I have free control over the camera, real-time is fine, but I don’t care for it without that tight camera control.

        But apart from U6 and the original two Fallout games, I also don’t tend to enjoy turn-based a lot of the time; it feels plodding and unnaturally slow to me. So RTWP is, for me, a really useful compromise.

        But I’m willing to concede that I may be atypical in that regard.

      • Stirring Dragon says:

        Well I have to say that after hearing that this team has been working on this game for a decade, that it may be worth checking out. That probably also explains why they were thinking about mobile for a time since they when through the whole mobile craze.

        Also since you mentioned it, do you think RTWP has and should become the “new” turn-based? Would you say that if there was a new single player Ultima style game (which we know will most likely never happen) in the vein of U6-U7 would you prefer say RTWP over the U6 turn-based style in it then? Did SSSH already touch on this in their combat episode? I can’t recall.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        I can’t recall, off the top of my head, if we talked about preferred combat styles…we might have done that a bit in the combat systems episode, and again in the one about making a new Ultima.

        For me, it really comes down to the kind of game made. If we’re talking about a top-down view, then yes, I’d argue for RTWP over pure real-time, and turn-based in preference to that if it would be in the style of Ultima 6 (as opposed to something action-point driven, like Divinity: Original Sin). If we’re talking about a third-person view, the combat should be real-time and as kinetic as possible.