Guide - Updated on September 24, 2022

At the early access stage, some compared Empire of Ember to Mount & Blade – here, after all, there is a roughly similar cross-genre cocktail, including role-playing game, strategy, battles with a view from the eyes, the ability to control a large army and conduct sieges. Why did this project never reach Mount & Blade?


At first, Empire of Ember is not exactly happy, but intriguing in a good way. We play as an apprentice (or apprentice) of a powerful magician, whom he was preparing to become a new Lightbringer – this is the name of sorcerers who can not only throw fireballs, but also be real rulers, rebuild and capture cities and lead entire armies into battle. Almost immediately after the start of the game, the mage-teacher is killed by a crowd of goblins who burst into the city – it is clear that we now have to take his place, restore the settlement and start searching for those who were behind the attack of vile creatures.

Empire of Ember: Review

Answering the wizard’s questions, we determine some starting characteristics.

In the process, we clean up bandit camps and dungeons, free the occupied villages from some plague warriors, zombies, evil wizards and even minotaurs. And we also decipher strange notes, trying to understand in the abracadabra of words where to send scouts in order to get on the trail of villains.

What is intriguing about this situation is that we have to act on several fronts at once, just in the spirit of the aforementioned Mount & Blade. We make decisions when we participate in a meeting of the council of our city – they can raise our karma and influence further events.

Empire of Ember: Review

These meetings take place almost every day.

And we are rebuilding our city ourselves. We determine where to put various buildings, where there will be protective walls, how to decorate all this. Buildings are generally familiar – they give an increase to the regular influx of one or another resource (for example, the market adds gold to the treasury daily, and the sawmill increases the supply of lumber), but you will also have to spend money on their maintenance. The library unlocks new units and gives you the spellbooks you need to learn enchantments. And, for example, without a forge, it will not be possible to raise the level of your initially weak and cowardly peasants in order to turn them into trained warriors.

Empire of Ember: Review

At first, there are much more decorative objects than available buildings.

Building walls is useful: our possessions will be attacked by enemies, just as we are by the enemy. And when using siege weapons, the same walls and buildings are completely destroyed for themselves – this is one of the chips that the developers put on.

As you already understood, we also need to regularly recruit new units of one or another specialization – different types of archers, warriors with shields, and so on. Gradually they are pumped. And the cooler the fighters, the more expensive their maintenance. And directly in the battle, either they will obediently follow us, attacking those who meet on the way, or we are free to give them orders – for this you can switch to the tactical map to select everyone and give instructions.

Empire of Ember: Review

Even peasants with pitchforks are extremely useful at first.

The Lightbringer himself takes part in battles like in shooters in the spirit of Hexen. You can use a sword, magic wand or bow, as well as cast spells. We learn those in our own tower for crystals of the title ember – classic fireballs, lightning, summoning the undead, increasing damage from the elements, teleports. Plus, you can separately learn the skills associated with the use of one of the three types of weapons. And the hero himself also pumps his characteristics with getting levels.

Finally, another layer of gameplay is the classic movement of the hero figure across hexes on the global map, where you can find villages, bandit camps and dungeons.

Empire of Ember: Review

The classic “fog of war” is also in place, hiding what is there on neighboring hexes.

Cheap and crooked

Already going to buy Empire of Ember? Do not hurry. Yes, everything described is formally there, but the main thing is how it is implemented. And implemented, frankly, crooked, cheap and boring. First of all, I will note a bunch of bugs and technical problems – the game can “hang” the system, throw the character under the textures. Or, for example, I somehow equipped a character with one weapon, and he came on a mission with another.

Empire of Ember: Review

Textures, as you can see, are not so hot either.

In addition, there is a crooked animation and a completely miserable AI. I thought that situations where you can just stand and shoot the enemy with a bow while he also tries to hit you and does not maneuver remained in the games from the early zero. Especially often this happens during the clearing of dungeons, where the hero acts alone.

In general, Hexen from Empire of Ember is frankly so-so. I recently played another magic shooter – Ziggurat 2. And after it, it was almost physically painful to play it. For example, it is inconvenient to use spells.

Empire of Ember: Review

Underground is prettier than on the surface.

During team battles, there are more dynamics, but even there everything is implemented and looks wretched, and it is again inconvenient to give orders and use the tactical view to control squads.

As for the strategic part, the development is very slow, so you are forced to hang out on the map or go to bed (so we skip days) waiting for a building to appear that will bring something to the treasury on trifles. And for a long time there was nothing really interesting on the map, except perhaps for story missions: one was completed, for the next one you need to pump units, there are not enough resources for this – so we are waiting for them to accumulate. Or we trade with settlements – but even there there are limitations.

It is clear that the farther, the more points of interest appear on the map, but before that you still need to endure, and the game does not particularly stimulate us to this.

Empire of Ember: Review

From the very beginning, telekinesis is available to us.

Empire of Ember is another example of an indie game that buckled under the weight of its own ambitions. The authors mixed everything at once, but did not cope with the implementation.

Pros: Potentially interesting concept; a lot of mechanics and features – here is a strategy, and a first-person shooter, and sieges, and a role-playing game.

Cons: the implementation let us down; many bugs and poor optimization; outdated graphics.

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