By the time Lost Ember begins, humans have vanished. Something, or someone, mucked things up so completely that nothing but their sturdiest architecture survived. You play as a wolf exploring the ruins of humanity in a bid to understand the why and wherefore of it all. Accomplishing this means inhabiting the bodies of other creatures to uncover parts of the world beyond where your paws can tread.
The menagerie at hand could have you plummeting over waterfalls as a fish one moment and then hopping into a turtle so you can dig up root vegetables. Neither might help you solve an existential mystery, but it looks mighty interesting.
Developers Mooneye Studios say switching bodies will be key in progressing through Lost Ember’s varied landscapes and puzzling out the finer details of what happened to the civilisation that once called it home:
“As a wolf with the power to inhabit and control other animals and with a trusted companion at your side, you’ll discover ruins of long forgotten civilisations and ancient cultures that tell a story of hope, loss, ambition and failure. Take flight over the canopy as a parrot, dive into the depths of the sea as a fish, or dig underground as a mole, there are many ways to discover your environment.”
Mooneye launched a Kickstarter for Lost Ember, their first major game, in 2016. By the end of the campaign, they had collected €326,103 (roughly £280k in today money), triple their goal.
Reflective narratives about the collapse of society are distressingly poignant in 2019, but common wisdom says pop culture reflects the anxieties of its generation. I shouldn’t be too shocked that plenty people felt drawn to a game that didn’t bother trying to save us from ourselves but was instead more interested in what the world might become when we’re nothing but a crumbling, half-buried memory.