When it comes to games such as Dark Souls, I am always excited. However, it never takes long before I find myself becoming crushed under the constant difficulty and the need to learn and adapt. One idea I’ve always wished for though is to see Dark Souls with guns. Surely it can be done, right? Fortunately, it seems the team over at Gunfire Games have the same wish and with their latest game Remnant: From the Ashes, we get to see how it all looks and feels in action!
Remnant begins with the creation of your character, and even though it’s not an all too in-depth character creation screen when compared to some other titles on the market, there is more than enough here to ensure you can make your character feel and look unique. From here, the story tone is in place as players set sail out on a small boat and across deadly waves before an unexpected tidal wave wipes them out, leaving our sole protagonist washed ashore and away from the intended destination of a mysterious tower on a coast nearby.
Fast forward a short way and after fighting your way through some truly vicious enemies that are out for your blood, you’ll arrive at Ward 13, the local home hub area for survivors of the current ongoing apocalypse. It’s here you’ll find yourself talking to other NPCs, upgrading weapons, and armour, and buying new items to help you in your adventures.
In terms of gameplay, Remnant: From the Ashes feels a lot like the Dark Souls games. Of course a lot of games that invite a challenge are often compared to that of Dark Souls, but even without the typical combat mechanics and imposing difficulty, Remnant: From the Ashes does bear a similar look and feel to that of the Souls series, with its RPG mechanics seeing players levelling and building their character throughout the game. Fortunately, there are a few notable features that clearly differentiate this into a unique experience.
Death is something you’ll encounter quite a bit too, with seemingly hundreds of different enemies and creature types known as the Root running rampant on the land; each bringing a highly destructive touch with every attack.
The reason you’re doing it all comes down to the mysterious tower from the opening scene, which turns out to be the resting place of all evil in the land. Now it’s got to be said that it’s not the story that will be pulling you through to the end, with the narrative not the strongest point in the game, but it’s still a passable experience. Instead what you’ll find yourself wanting more of is the combat.
How combat works besides the usual dodging, timing of attacks and learning will depend on which of the character classes you have chosen. There are three separate classes, with the Hunter providing a ranged attacking option thanks to having a rifle, whilst close combat sees a pistol and sword come into play. The Scrapper brings a powerful shotgun, repeater pistol and hammer – and is by far the best for close quarters action – whilst flaming bullets can set enemies alight. The Ex-Cultist class meanwhile is perfect for those who prefer a mix whilst also running as a healing force which is especially useful when in an online group.
As you progress through the game, you’ll find your class building as you would in any similar RPG adventure, and the quickest way to up it is by exploring the world and defeating enemies. As mentioned before, death is a common occurrence in Remnant: From the Ashes, but unlike the Souls games, it isn’t something that’s going to see players forced to scramble back to their last location to grab experience points dropped. In fact, whilst slightly irritating should you repeatedly die to the same foes, death isn’t all that much of an awful experience with players simply thrown back to the most recent checkpoint which stands in the form of a red crystal, which equally acts as a fast travel hub. From there you just need to jump back in and take another shot at the area and enemies in which you just failed.
The other way in which you’ll build your character is through gathering scrap. Scrap can be picked up through smashed crates and items within the world and you’ll want to explore every nook and cranny of each area. When you’ve gathered enough scrap, you can then head back to the base hub area of Ward 13 in which you and your fellow survivors are living to upgrade your various armour and weapons to remain competitive as you progress through the game. This can also be used to increase the number of Dragon Heart uses you can have which for an understandable comparison would be similar to the Estus Flask of the frequently mentioned Dark Souls.
Just utilising scrap and levelling up however isn’t enough to power you through this one and another way in which your character class becomes vitally important is through acquired traits. With each level-up players earn a trait point and these can be spent on things such as health and stamina upgrades, extra armour and so on; with many more unique traits unlocking as your progress. It’s not that unexpected in a game of the RPG variety but it does help bring a level of customisation to your individual character, which is only highlighted further when playing in a group online.
Something else that changes Remnant into a unique experience is the online co-op. This is certainly a game that can be played from the off as a solo player, but playing with a group of friends is much better, with the option to have two other players join you after completing the early tutorial.
What’s more is not only does co-op play help make combat a little easier, but it also opens up the opportunity to play tactically when coming up against things like bosses, all of which fight and appear entirely uniquely to one another.
Possibly my favourite feature with Remnant: From the Ashes however is not the satisfying combat, but rather the endless opportunities that are available within each of the dynamically generated worlds. While the general hub area will stay the same each time you play, travelling to new areas see new maps, enemies and quests generated when you arrive into them. You can be guaranteed to find something to do and something fresh to see.
Remnant: From the Ashes on Xbox One is a brilliant game. It mixes ideas from multiple titles into one unique experience and I for one cannot fault it for doing, especially when it pulls it off so well. The final area to talk about however are the visuals and this for me is a mixed bag. You see, the character models look quite impressive, however there are a few times in which the scenery can look a little jagged and rough on the edges. This isn’t all the time, but with the rest of the game feeling so well defined and polished, it’s hard to see why some textures can appear a little off.
In its overall state though, Remnant: From the Ashes is an RPG adventure that focuses on class building and character development, while providing incredibly satisfying combat which will vary with each class you chose to run with. It has a super smooth and engaging multiplayer that can bring tactical advantages, it has visuals that bring the true feel of an apocalypse, and movement that is like a perfect blend of Dark Souls and Gears of War. When you then look at the incredible enemy variety and controls that are simple enough for anyone to jump in and play, the only thing you’ll have left to look back on in disappointment will be your skill level.
If you’re after a new RPG adventure, there are few titles besides a Dark Souls adventure that will keep you engaged quite like Remnant: From the Ashes!