A 3D exploration adventure game from indie developer Mooneye Studios, Lost Ember’s setting is an ancient fallen civilization, once proud but now reclaimed by the jungles and forests that encircled it.
It crumbled and decayed in the wake of a mysterious defeat, and a past spark of that lost Inrahsi culture seeks to tell its story. He accompanies you, the wolf, on a journey that traverses brilliant locations from the secret ruins and gorgeous wildwoods to the fabled Machu Kila, where the answers shall be revealed.
To reach Machu Kila, the path is difficult and treacherous. Navigating across yawning chasms, tiny tunnels and deep lakes is simplified with the wolf’s ability to spiritually possess other animals.
Parrots, moles, buffalo and more populate the environments, each with a unique mobility. They also serve to provide alternative paths so that each puzzle has many solutions, continuing the narrative journey to the forgotten city.
The game places heavy emphasis on experiencing the world, allowing you to wander the stunning environments as you please and howl once you need direction from your companion. There is no combat, nor are there potential deaths, in its gameplay — just pure exploration.
Employing a wolf as the avatar of peaceful discovery in the colorful, crafted, fallen world of Lost Ember is a strange choice. Wolves are a symbol of chaos and uncontrollable nature in European culture and mythology. Fables and religious texts alike struck up phrases such as "throw to the wolves," "a wolf at the door" and "a wolf in sheep’s clothing," tarring the wolf with a bloodthirsty brush.
Even the expression "lone wolf," usually applied to characterize a gruff protagonist, is a negative comment on an individual’s self-reliance. After all, wolves are defined by their packs, hunting down flocks of sheep and preying on humans with a savage and merciless efficiency. Wolves in video games are common enemies, ambushing the player to serve as easy XP gain and low-value loot.
These predators were not always viewed in this undeserved and unfavorable light by European cultures, and their crucial ecological role to early human environments became affirmed into belief systems.
In predominantly hunter-gatherer societies, the wolf symbolized a connection to the gods and therefore a transitory state from life to death, from human to spirit. The animal was a hallmark of tenacity and mastery as a hunter, central to the cycles of nature and yet, their presence soon became a threat to human civilization and advancement.
As societies shifted to an agrarian lifestyle and belief systems ebbed away, superstition associated the animal with destruction and damnation. European cultures then decidedly distanced nature from humanness, and this fear caused wild wolves to be hunted to near-extinction on the continent.
By choosing a wolf, Lost Ember consciously taps into the archaic spirituality of this animal to the natural world. Not as a symbol for nationalism, not as a vessel for evil, but to represent an in-between mode of being.
In this manner, Inrahsi is kind of a forewarning of our own reality where we are embroiled in politico-economic struggles and have lost sight of those constant connections to each other in transient situations.
While Lost Ember is scheduled for a 2018 release, the calm, artistic journey Mooneye Studios is constructing holds messages that will undoubtedly ring true for many this year. Maybe, now more than ever, we need to answer nature's call.
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Exploration, Adventure
Creator: Mooneye Studios
Release Date: 2018