Yes, Ember was supposed to be out last fall, but as CEO and creative director Jeff Birns explained at 505 Games recent NYC event, the team at N-Fusion has been a bit busy making things even better. The game looked fantastic when I first saw it, but it’s even more gorgeously detailed and as noted in my previous article, the best-looking isometric RPG on any device. Many new areas have been added, older areas have gotten changes and parts that needed work have indeed been worked on. Ten years of work and a proprietary engine that won’t quit go a long way in realizing a dream, is all I’ll say about the art and vast, carefully detailed open world players will get to explore.
I’ll even go out on a limb to say it definitely gives some PC role-playing games of any era a run for their money. Apple clearly has an exclusive to be proud of (the Steam version will most likely be released at some point after the iOS version), but how do you market such an amazing game on a device where most of its games really haven’t been marketed to the masses like AAA console games are?
Apple commercials usually show off montages of people interacting with their tech, or if a game is advertised, it’s often a quick clip in one of those otherwise busy TV spots. For Ember, Apple may need to take a new tack (and steal my idea in the process). All they need to do is produce a simple 30-second ad that shows the game in action for about 25 or those seconds before having the camera pull back to show it’s running on an iPad. Toss in an optional voice over with the release date and “only on iPad” or something and I’m betting they may sell a few more units to those yet to take the plunge who happen to love this sort of classic game experience. And if it can run through Apple TV, that’s probably going to get some people parking themselves on the couch for the long haul. or buying one of those devices if they haven’t yet. I don’t even own anything Apple-related these days (that’s current or works), but I’m tempted to sell a body part in order to play Ember on a nice retina screen.
A game this solid clearly doesn’t need actors playing faux “gamers” yakking away with lines written that sound like nothing a real human speaks. The game looks magnificent enough to grab the interest of both RPG fans and non-gamers who might want to try it, so letting it sell itself without the silliness shows respect to the dev team. At least that’s how I see it. Ember is an epic on a few fronts. It’s not only the best-looking mobile RPG to date, it might be one of the longest in terms of pure start to finish gameplay. Birns noted that it could take up to 130 hours for players to complete the game, something that had me smiling because it’ll clearly be one of those games that’s not going to be blown through on a rainy weekend.
That said, there could be some goofball minor “trouble” among gamers not used to this sort of quality and dedication to craft. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but you know how the internet rolls these days with the anti-everything squads popping up to whine about the smallest things. Of course, as long as you can save your progress anywhere, I guess even for a short commute it’s going to be possible for some to get in that 30+ hours in twenty-minute chunks of subway or bus time.
But that’s neither here nor there. Ember is shaping up to be a must-buy game, and as it’s currently an iOS exclusive (the Steam version will most likely get a release after the iPad version), Apple fans will have something to cheer about this summer. Jeff Birns has enough ideas in his head and on a Mac somewhere for a few sequels or other games set in the same universe, but I’m content to see how this one plays out. Interestingly enough, there wasn’t a GameFaqs page for either version of the game until I took care of that little omission. Hopefully, Birns or someone from the team can pop onto those boards to post information just to kick off more conversation about the game they’ve been working on for so long.
Back with more on Ember shortly. The actual iPad release date, price point and Steam info are all things I hope to have news on, but even if it’s just more lovely screens, it’s all good.