23 October 2019
Be ready for a challenge that might just make you break.
A remake of challenging twoplayer co-op The Ravens of Thri Sahashri set during the events of the last book in fantasy author Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, Embers of Memory is a handsome but deceptively brain-burning card game.
The asymmetrical gameplay remains much the same as in Ravens, with one player overlapping cards to create matching sets equalling exactly seven (a holdover from designer Kuro’s homage to Japanese dodoitsu poems in the original) and another picking one card from the layout each turn to try and complete four rows of cards also by getting them to total seven. It’s a simple but tough puzzle that will likely take you attempt after attempt to crack the logic of.
What’s new is a campaign-like progression through a prologue and seven ‘chapters’ that loosely follow the book and gradually layer in extra rules. It makes Embers an easier game to get to grips with than the surprisingly complex Ravens, and the added narrative helps the change in theme feel surprisingly comfortable. There are other minor differences between the two games, but not enough to make owning both necessary unless you’re already a fan of Maas’ world or looking for a softer way to introduce Ravens to newcomers.
With players still unable to communicate directly, the difference between the players’ tasks remains a disappointment; laying the cards down is simply far more interesting than silently picking one a turn. Later rules give both roles more to chew over each turn, but it’s not quite enough to make them equally enjoyable – and you’ll have to muscle through some already tricky chapters to get there.
It’s undeniably clever and beautifully presented, and the rules are less of a hill to climb than before. But a softer outside hasn’t weakened the tough heart of Ravens at its centre; be ready for a challenge that might just make you break.
PLAY IT? MAYBE
Artist: Coralie Jubénot