Emberwind was breathed into creation by Swedish indie developer Timetrap, although not originally for the iOS. This title first saw light on the PC back in January 2010. The title received a modicum of success, lauded for its fantastic art style with a good old fashioned retro feel to the game mechanics. The fantasy world of Dalriada has now been squeezed into all things Apple with both a standard and HD release for the iPad, although I shall only be concentrating on the standard version in this review.
The Kingdom of Grendale has gotten itself into a spot of bother and you, as the gnome Kindle, along with your cheeky and trusty owl sidekick, Wick, have to get to the bottom of it. Taking the form similar to the side-scrolling adventures of old, you have to navigate multi-pathed levels to get to your objective, now with advanced control schemes and multiple types of attack. Your main method of conveying these instructions is through the trusty virtual D-pad on the left, and buttons to the right. Here arises the largest problem I have with Emberwind. With the lack of tactile feedback being a pre-existing complaint for touchscreen devices, the small scale of the D-pad and buttons, combined with the range of complex movements required to traverse the terrain, often ends in failure and frustration.
Graphically Emberwind is chock-full of detail and quaint detail befitting a fantasy game, coupled with a sufficiently deep story, which genuinely gives the impression of a complete product that has been fully thought through during the development process. The source material is also taken with a pinch of salt. With some meta-humour, for example, when you “accidentally” hit your owl compadre. Come on, when is the next time I can legitimately whack an owl? Although the level of detail is welcome, and encouraged, on an often graphically underestimated platform, a lot of the details are lost on that 4″ screen, especially with the D-pad and other interface elements included. Another drawback of such detail is the loading times, typically on my iPhone 3GS it would take roughly 30 seconds to load a complete level. This seems somewhat excessive. However, when testing on my iPhone 4 the load times were halved to around 16 seconds.
Ultimately one has to question whether Emberwind is fit for purpose on the iPhone? However, the fiddly controls, long loading times and condensed visuals are all problems that can be nullified by using a larger device such as the iPad, if you can get hold of one. You can’t blame Timetrap for also porting Emberwind to the iPhone/iPod Touch once the hard work had been done converting to iPad, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good game for the system.
MLG Rating: 6/10
Platforms: iOS Release date: 04/08/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Emberwind for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on an iPhone 3GS/4. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.