Winter Ember Review (Xbox Series S)

This Winter Ember Review will have us taking on an immersive stealth action game that casts us into the role of Arthur Artorias, the faceless man. Step into the shadows and uncover a mysterious plot that saw your family torn from the history books. On the first night of winter, you unsheath your blade and seek vengeance.

Winter Ember Review Pros:

  • Decent graphics.
  • 5.9GB download size.
  • 1000 Gamerscore.
  • Controller settings – Invert axis and sensitivity sliders along with the ability to rebind the buttons.
  • Six save slots.
  • Four difficulties – Easy, medium, hard and faceless man.
  • Cool cartoon cutscenes.
  • Can skip cutscenes.
  • Fully voiced characters.
  • Stealth gameplay.
  • Opening tutorial section with ongoing pop-ups.
  • Combat is heavily sword-based with dodges, parrying, and charge attacks the order here.
  • Full camera control.
  • Light plays a huge part as it’s all about stealth and sight, you can use the light to your advantage or simply extinguish the light.
  • Multiple ways to pass an objective.
  • Assassinate or knock out enemies.
  • You can hide bodies.
  • Pickpocket enemies or loot dead bodies.
  • With doors, you can peek through the keyhole and see what’s on the other side and pan the camera around.
  • Shrines are used for saving and act as checkpoints.
  • Loot cupboards, chests, etc.
  • Bleeding will allow enemies to track you, scare locals and make your attacks weaker.
  • Lock pick mini-game.

Winter Ember Review Cons:

  • The performance is quite bad with a lot of slowdowns and juddering.
  • The controls feel floaty.
  • Cutscenes are not smooth.
  • Performance impacts the fluidity of combat and makes it very mashy and frustrating.
  • They do a whole lighting thing where the overall screen dims and lights up depending on your location, at first you think cool but after a short, while it becomes a real pain in the ass and makes a hard-to-play game even harder.
  • Slow-paced.
  • Little in the way of settings for anything like video, performance, or effects.
  • You can only go into cover in certain parts and it is shown with a huge icon every time.
  • Jumping onto ledges is a mission in itself as you can just jump on any old crate, jump down and you immediately enter stealth.
  • No help with guidance.
  • No tutorials for things like lock picking or why you should loot normal household items.
  • Hard to see the enemies.
  • Levels look huge but are actually very small with unclimbable boxes or doors that don’t open to keep you encased.
  • Lock picks break on every attempt so it’s very easy to just waste your stockpile.
  • So many icons and flashing items everywhere.
  • Hard to read the health bar system.

Related Post: Outward Definitive Edition Review (PlayStation 5)

Winter Ember:

Official website.

Developer: Blowfish Studios 

Publisher: Blowfish Studios 

Store Links – 

Xbox

  • 7/10
    Graphics - 7/10
  • 5/10
    Sound - 5/10
  • 5/10
    Accessibility - 5/10
  • 7/10
    Length - 7/10
  • 5/10
    Fun Factor - 5/10
5.8/10

Summary

Winter Ember is a stealth game that is let down a lot by poor performance and baffling level design. I found myself constantly fighting the slowdown even when doing small tasks such as moving the camera or going into cover, it set it all off on a bad foot and never recovered. Talking of cover, you can only do so in certain places despite that place looking exactly the same as any other place, luckily you have a big fuck off icon to tell you if it’s possible, said icon also obstructs your view so it’s a lose-lose situation. Combat is meant to be all about parrying, dodging, and stealth but in truth, it’s just button mashing and hoping your attacks connect as it’s hard to judge thanks to the performance. Locations look good but again it’s all deceptive as little things like unclimbable boxes or dead doors shoehorn you into a much smaller area and one with little freedom. Lock picking is usually fun but here it’s not explained and all you do is time the shaking and release, the time it is wrong and you lose a lock pick instantly and with how sparse these things are, lock picking is a pain in the ass and not fun. Lighting can be good as you use it to your advantage, blowing out lanterns makes your life easier but again the game forces this global lighting effect where going through light and dark not only affects your sight cones, it also doe the overall light and darkness, this is disorientating and serves no purpose at all. I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked with Winter Ember as it never felt finished, like it was one patch away from playable but never getting there. Stealth games are everywhere so you really need to start strong and do new things, Winter Ember does little to innovate and instead infuriates and disappoints in equal measure.

Jim Smale

Gaming since the Atari 2600, I enjoy the weirdness in games counting Densha De Go and RC De Go as my favourite titles of all time. I prefer gaming of old where buying games from a shop was a thing, Being social in person was a thing. Join me as I attempt to adapt to this new digital age!

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