I’d like to think that we’re all familiar with N-Fusion Interactive, but for those of you who aren’t, I imagine you’ve at least heard of some of the games they’ve been involved with: Space Noir, Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded, and Deus Ex: The Fall to name a few. The studio has done some pretty impressive work on iOS over the years, and now they’re getting ready to release the RPG they’ve always wanted to make.
The world of Ember seems like a fascinating one. The game is titles after the world’s most valuable natural resource, which is used for all sorts of things from providing energy to a city to being set in jewelry. What’s more, it has intelligence. The larger the chunk of Ember, the smarter it is, to the point that you might find yourself squaring off against some rather (understandably) hostile giant crystals.
Ember also plays into your story, not just the over-arching story of the world. Throughout the game you’ll acquire Ember shards, which you can then decide to sell off for a tidy profit or set free – much like freeing or harvesting a Little Sister when you stop and think about it. Creepy.
Ember can best be compared to PC classics like Ultima and Baldur’s Gate. It uses a top-down isometric perspective, sure, but the similarities go a bit further than that. The world is also incredibly large, and will never need to load when traveling from one area to another. It has day/night cycles, weather, multiple homes to own, NPCs have their own schedules and behaviors that they keep to, and even the animals interact with each other (i.e. cats chase mice, wolves hunt deer, etc) on their own.
Items are also liberally sprinkled throughout the world (think just about anything Elder Scrolls) and all of them can be picked up. Or dropped, of course. There’s also a crafting system, so you’ll be able to turn ore you’ve mined into a new weapon or mix potions using materials gathered from the woods. And yes, there are readable books.
Combat is in real time, but you can pause the action at any point while you plan your tactics and activate skills. And speaking of skills, they’re tied to your equipment as opposed to being in some sort of tree. The reasoning behind this is simple: to prevent players from getting “stuck” playing a class they decide they don’t like. If you’re 12 hours in (the game touts 30 hours of gameplay, 180 quests, innumerable sidequests, etc) and decide focusing on melee combat isn’t doing it for you, it’ll be easy to start playing around with fireballs and lighting bolts instead. And of course when you put on new gear and equip new weapons they’ll all show up on your character.
There’s no official release date for Ember yet, but it’s coming along nicely and looks to be close to completion based on the build I was shown. Pricing is also still up in the air, but it’s definitely going to be a premium title – no ads, timers, etc. At the moment it’s being designed for the iPad, but I’ve been told there’s a chance we may see a separate iPhone version as well. Either way I can’t wait to get my hands on it.