Straight off, I’m not the biggest fan of stealth in games. I like stealth games, which is why I wanted to give Winter Ember a bash. It looked dark, stylish, and very old-school like Thief and Dishonored. My usual tactic is, to sneak around until overpowered. In Winter Ember I couldn’t do that. So with my brain engaged for once, off I went. Let’s see how I got on.
Is this Batman, Year One?
The main story begins with, Arthur Artorias, bringing some ladies back to his mansion. Arthur is like what George from Broken Sword would be like with Bruce Wayne’s money. The cut scene looks excellent but their lips didn’t sync with the words. This just annoys the hell out of me and made me want to skip. Maybe it was just a bug in my game but it got us off to a rocky start.
Arthur’s evening is ruined when a group of men in hoods turns up. The men slaughter everyone in the household including Arthur’s dad. Arthur is saved by one of his lady companions, Vesna and they escape.
Roll on eight years later and a now bearded Arthur wants answers, like “why did you wait eight years Arthur?” oh wait that’s my question. As you can see the story is very familiar. It is like they had some kind of story generator that they clicked rich protagonist and away they went.
Like a candle in the wind
Winter Ember’s gameplay is a mixed bag. The camera is at a top-down-like angle and you can only move it horizontally. This does hamper you a bit and I found myself swinging the camera around a lot. Especially when you are in a warehouse.
This game is all about sneaking. Luckily for you, Arthur is armed with his Assassin’s Creed starter kit of an assassin’s cloak and sword. The levels are very well done and they seem to be in a very dark winter. Sneaking around and blowing out candles to conceal yourself was weird but fun.
In your way of sneaking around are the guards. This is where all that Agent 47 training came in handy. You can deal with these by both knocking them out and hiding the body. Or just straight-up murdering them. This came with a little assassin animation but before it activated the game seemed to freeze to load it. This was strike two for me. There is the third option of standing and fencing but this is so clunky I wouldn’t bother.
It’s a cold world
The world in Winter Ember is as the name suggests, cold. It feels very Victorian, with little electricity and everything lit by candles and lamps. The levels do look nice though and are bigger than you will think.
Starting off you will be frustrated by certain limitations in accessing places. This can be remedied by the crafting system. Here you will make special arrows like fire, smoke, and water (yes water arrows?).
In a world of big open-world games, it was nice to have a big world but on a linear course. That’s what this does, it makes you feel like it’s bigger than it is (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).
Winter Ember is a middle-of-the-road stealth game. It is playable but there are much better stealth games out there that do all these things much better.