Embers of Mirrim
A solid platformer with a brilliant puzzle mechanic.
Embers of Mirrim is a different type of 2.5D platformer, issuing a new mechanic where you control two "embers" to navigate the map and complete puzzles. It takes place in a beautiful setting, with highly detailed 3D models and stunning environments for you to explore as you go on your adventure. You play as a Mirrim, a strange, bird-esque creature that can run, jump, glide, and split into two different colored embers. There is a slight story, although it is mostly unimportant and a bit hard to follow, but by no means does this detract from the gameplay. Part of the game is spent doing typical platformer things, like leaping between platforms and dodging obstacles. The other part of the game focuses on the embers "connecting the dots", using the controller's joysticks to move a light ember and a dark ember. Each ember can only touch objects of its own color, and touching these objects enables the embers to last longer. When using the embers, the game becomes more puzzle-like than platformer, and forces you to think about how to move your embers complete the puzzle. These puzzles are quite common and grow increasingly more complex as you progress.
Gameplay As you run and jump around the map, you'll constantly come across green and purple objects. This is where you split your Mirrim into its light (green) and dark (purple) embers and control them each with a different joystick. The embers can only last a certain amount of time before slamming back together to reform the Mirrim. The puzzles start simply enough -- navigate the embers to the colored diamonds to make your embers last longer so that you can reach the necessary platform. Quickly, more ideas are introduced, such as colored nets which create mazes for you to navigate. If your embers are too far apart at any one point, then you'll be sent back to the beginning of the maze, forced to try again. These mazes require planning and precision with your embers, moving them in unison while making sure they are always relatively close to one another. Other ideas like colored launch pads are introduced just as the old ideas become stale. This makes puzzles consistently fun and keeps the game from becoming stale. These ember sections are also split up by regular platforming, and while the platforming isn't anything that stands out, the controls are tight and feel solid, and having the ability to glide is a nice addition. At the end of each major area, you'll encounter a boss fight, each of which use platforming or embers in one way or another. The 3D modeled bosses look fantastic and provide another nice change of pace to the usual gameplay.
Cool Features There are three difficulty modes -- Easy, Normal, and Hard -- each of which alter the game slightly. In Easy mode, you regenerate armor over time (which lets you take a second hit without restarting), have a longer ember split time, and fight easier bosses. In Normal mode, you only get the armor you find around the map, and as with Hard mode, the split times are longer and the boss fights are harder.
To add in some exploration, the game has a few secret areas for you to find, each of which has a shape for you to outline with your embers. Since you have to follow a specific pattern, very similar to connect the dots, these aren't always easy and make for good puzzles. You can check how many of these secrets you found per chapter in the chapter select menu.
Is it for you? Embers of Mirrim is a solid platformer and a great puzzle game. The combination of these two makes for all-around enjoyable game that throws in just enough ideas to keep it always interesting. At times, controlling the two embers can cramp your hands since you need to hold down the buttons to activate the embers while also moving the joysticks in all sorts of directions, but it's nothing a short break can't fix. These ember puzzles are creatively put together and quite abundant, which is great because of how fun they are to complete. If you're looking for just a platformer, then Embers of Mirrim will satisfy you a little bit, but the real draw here is the puzzle mechanic. It's a fun idea that functions surprisingly well, and even works its way into boss fights to make them feel unique. So if you're looking for a puzzle game with a mechanic you've probably never seen before, then definitely check this out.