An isometric Steam Early Access game featuring distinctive character classes with the ability to gain a second class and blast your way through the levels in order to conquer almost 60 different regions in game, each littered with unique enemies, challenges and loot. Is Guardians of Ember worthy of being played?
Guardians of Ember has been developed by the gamers of Runewaker, the team behind Rune’s of Magic and Dragon’s Prophet. This team has a lot of experience and knowledge in making games and it shows in Guardians of Ember.
Thrust into the game you’re immediately tasked with saving a base from a goblin invasion. The game is good in teaching you what to do and how to use the different skill panes and how to customise your character to use the skills best suited to your play style. With a varying range of six different classes, you can literally choose a character completely unique to you.
Before you enter the game, you’re given a very customisable character creation page which is a wonderful thing to see. Starting with your race and character class, you move into selection how tall or small, body size, hair type and colour plus a huge range of other options to make the character completely unique. It’s nice to see such an in-depth character customisation screen as I was completely not expecting it but it was a nice surprise.
Once in game and through the tutorial level, you are given a story quest to follow with optional side quests to find littered through the map. The map itself is split into different regions and sections with a small loading screen between each. Not only can you move into other regions if you find the entrance, you can also find random dungeons around the map.
Running a dungeon is a challenge but a rewarding challenge none the less. Once you’ve completed through the dungeon, you find a treasure chest which you can use a key which can be bought with real currency to unlock. I’m not a fan of purchasable items like this and I feel this is one of the few points which does actually let the game down on. **CORRECTION** – This has now changed and keys are unlocked through daily rewards, questing and fishing (yay!)
Going through the store with items which are purchasable, a lot of items are customisation which has no impact upon the game which I totally have no problem with. Other items include vouchers to re-roll skills and to expand on your house’s inventory which again, I have absolutely no problem with as it doesn’t give people an unfair step up in the game.
There is a crafting system in game which is very in depth and unfortunately I’ve not had a lot of chance to use it yet but from what I’ve seen, the system is pretty user friendly and you can create some real decent bind on equip items which are very useful in expanding your characters armoury and therefore making you even more bad ass in game. There is also in in-depth house building feature of the game where you design and build your own home and furnish it as well, so you always have somewhere to return to after a long day adventuring!
The game play itself though is reminiscent of Diablo and Torchlight, but does not yet feel as polished. Combat is good but sometimes attacks miss for no reason and enemy AI is nothing to write home about as they charge you like sheep and do not try to escape and then rush again like they do in Diablo. Hopefully this will be sorted by the time the game goes full release and I actually expect it will be as the developers are very active and motivated to sort the game as best they can.
An example of how active these developers are is the first night playing the game, I was playing for about half an hour. The game then just stopped and I had no idea why. I tried to connect a few times but the server was then reporting to be down so I just chalked it up to the servers not being able to handle the load of players as it was one of the first nights the game had been out. Later though I found out the developers pulled the server down as they had been alerted to players using an exploit to gain a lot of legendary loot fast. This goes to show just how amazing these guys are as this was the middle of the night as well. They want the game to be fair and not for people to hack or exploit and they obviously take action when this happens.
For an Early Access game, the graphics are pretty good but there are a few issues with clipping and some other details. As the game is so early in its development cycle, it would be totally unfair to mark the game down on its graphics but give it its due; the graphics aren’t bad in any sense of the word.
The first map is mainly fields with a few trees, mountains, houses and camps dotted around. The graphics are best described as slightly arty and cartoony but a nice balance of each. Characters and enemies are detailed nicely and the user interface is nicely laid out including the other character panes which is a nice thing to see as it stops people getting confused as to what they’re looking at.
The audio of the game features a very nice soundtrack which plays in the background, slowly immersing you and bringing you into the world of Guardians of Ember. Monsters all sound different and weapon sound like they pack a real punch which is very nice for game like this as it all adds to the immersion of the game.
Longevity and Value for Money
Being an early access title, the price of the game is relatively cheap and actually does come up on sale quite often. The game comes in a few different flavours with the cheapest version starting at £15 and up to £40 for the deluxe edition, which if you’re interested in isometric loot grinding games then Guardians of Ember would be worth picking up.
Each time you play through the game you can customise your character differently, using different classes to see if you can make the ultimate character to tear through enemies and grind that loot as efficiently as you can.
I enjoyed Guardians of Ember as much as I thought I would as I am a true fan of the style of games that Guardians of Ember has nestled itself in with. For this reason, Guardians of Ember grinds its way to a Thumb Culture Silver Award.