Remnant: From the Ashes came out of nowhere for me, not knowing it existed until a review copy came through. So, when a few people asked what’s the game about (let’s be real I blabbered about it with nary a question) I’ve responded with “Dark Soulsy with modern, third person shooting mechanics.” Now those following my journalistic endeavors will know I’m not a fan of From Software at all and even championing an easy mode for the Soulsborne games. However, developer Gunfire Games has created something here that I can’t put down or stop thinking about when I’m away. It can be difficult sure, but the intriguing lore, tight-knit gameplay, and sense of exploration has me hooked.
The title follows your nameless protagonist as he journeys away from home to stop the Root, a faction of deadly tree-like enemies. After crossing a deadly sea, you are tasked with finding a mysterious tower which supposedly has all the answers to the problems facing this world. Luckily, you are supported in your quest by the citizens of Ward 13 and their bunker like encampment. It barely keeps out the Root and will serve as your headquarters. You’ll also discover that the founder of this safe haven went missing a long time ago and may or may not have a role to play in your quest as well. This is when the story takes a wonderful and ever-changing tone. What starts as a straightforward journey in a dark, post-apocalyptic, Victorian world turns into a sci-fi tale with different worlds that would make the Gunslinger blush.
Our nameless protagonist can be one of three classes which aren’t terribly deep as it mostly revolves around short, mid, and long-range weapons and abilities. Same goes with the character creation feature. There’s not more than a handful of options so don’t expect anything too in-depth here. But boy oh boy is the gameplay itself simple to understand and incredibly fun. You’ll be able to utilize a long gun, a sidearm, a melee weapon, and armor/clothes regardless of class. All of which can be upgraded by various resources found throughout the game and there’s even some special items that can only be forged with certain boss drops. There’s also a handful of mods you can unlock or purchase that add the likes of elemental damage to your guns, summoning enemies to fight by your side, and more. Additionally, typical consumables make an appearance to increase health, reload speed, ammo, movement, and you already get the picture I’m sure.
At first the Root enemies have a decent amount of variety between close combat and ranged attacks. To the point where I would have been happy with just this faction being blown away by my rifle and handgun. Then the game opens up in those alternate worlds I mentioned and introduces a few new enemies. Floating skull heads that fire dark blasts of energy anyone? More to Remnant: From the Ashes credit though are said enemies and their correlation to the game’s difficulty. Level design is amazing in terms of both exploring and battle. There’s many different nooks and crannies to find pickups and to also hide from opponents. The majority of enemies on offer have a specific way to be defeated and you have to time your dodges. Do so too late or early and you will take damage. You also have a stamina bar to keep track of as well. While it can be increased with all the other attributes your character possesses, you still must perform a balancing act between offense and defense. This gameplay loop still has me hooked and leaves one feeling like they can overcome any obstacle and be easily defeated by it.
Where other similar games fail though is the grindy process of getting back to bosses if you die. Remnant: From the Ashes not only let’s you return to a previous dungeon’s check point if you perish or return from Ward 13, but you keep all your progress as well. Sure, the enemies respawn to block your path again, but I never felt discouraged. So, if I earned a trait point, which upgrades your abilities like mentioned before, halfway through a boss fight I keep it. For example, there were two bosses I struggled against and had to face many times. Not once did I feel like I was banging my head up against a wall (except getting hit through one and I’ll detail that later) and the option to return to HQ at any time was extremely welcoming. Especially since I would just arrive right before the boss room again. The four-player co-op is handled almost perfectly too. Enemies and boss difficulty scales to how many players there are and everyone in-game must be near in order to travel. Friendly fire is always on though so be aware.
Yet another thing that Remnant: From the Ashes deserves praise for is the NG+ system. No gamer will experience everything this title has to offer in one playthrough. Some bosses and areas just won’t be apart of any given one. When you start a new game with most of your character in tow, you’ll meet these new challenges through a decent amount of level changes. Some dungeons are procedurally generated and open up new areas to collect and die in. Plenty of decrepit cities, space deserts, bogs, swamps, and mystical areas for one to enjoy on more than a single journey. I also believe this plays a part in the fact that no one has the platinum trophy for this game right now. At least according to the trophy percentages.
Naturally, this great title has to be hampered by something and that’s where a few technical problems come in to play, purposeful or not. A handful of times the framerate and audio would dip and create that deep sound of a TV just failing. It was jarring to say the least when facing tougher opponents. Most annoyingly were how some boss’s melee strikes could hit you through walls. Thankfully I learned this very early on and gave an appropriate cushion when facing them in the future. Lastly, when someone joins a co-op game they’re supposed to spawn in when the host reaches a checkpoint stone. Sometimes this doesn’t happen and requires the host to actually die for everyone to first spawn in. It was an easy enough fix considering you can die moderately easily, but annoying all the same. Oh and a rare few enemies also got stuck in a t-pose or in a wall. Standard stuff.
Remnant: From the Ashes PS4 Review
Overall - Must Buy - 9.5/10
Remnant: From the Ashes is one of those occasions that comes out of nowhere and entertains you to no end because of it. The story is intriguing and mysterious while the combat and gameplay shine as the best of the year so far. Not only am I looking forward to discovering all of Remnant’s content through multiple NG+, I can’t wait to help along many a gamer on this grand adventure. Plus, there’s even new enemies and modes down the pipeline according to the developer so who knows how truly long I’m going to be looking for that tower.
- Fantastic, whimsical, original tale
- A gameplay loop that is incredibly addicting and one of the best this generation
- Level design deserves the utmost applause
- Checkpoint system and NG+ show everyone how to do those things right
- Extremely minor technical problems
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.