Souls-like games are a dime a dozen these days. With it becoming its own genre, developers are having to find ways to make their version stand out. Most of the time, it comes down to a visual aesthetic that separates one from the next. Fittingly, developer Gunfire Games has made their new Souls-like game Remnant: From The Ashes unique by using… wait for it… GUNS! That emphasis alone separates it from the bunch, but the story, procedurally generated world and environments also make it stand out.
The story begins with the created player setting out to sea after a cataclysmic event taking place on modern earth. The destination: the Atoll, a lighthouse with a mythical presence. You’re sent on a mission to discover the whereabouts of the hero that was sent out to rid the land of monsters before you. Of course, a tidal wave crushes our ship upon approach of the Atoll, shipwrecking you on nearby land.
The tutorial begins here and eventually leads to Ward 13, an underground shelter that serves as your home base for the rest of the game. Once you get your bearings and take in some lore, it’s out to the demon infested world you go. These demons are referred to as “The Root”, and as one might imagine, are tree-like in appearance. Their origin and motives are unclear, but what is clear is that they have wiped out the majority of human civilization. They also stand between you and your goal.
Gameplay consists of a primary focus on third-person shooting and a secondary focus on exploration and looting. The end result is a game that feels like a combination of Borderlands, The Division, and Dark Souls. Funnily enough, the game looks a lot like Gunfire Games’ previous release Darksiders III. It must be the post-apocalyptic earth setting filled with overgrown foliage and numerous empty, ravaged buildings. The challenge is definitely there. Enemies have a tendency to come in bunches, overwhelming the player if they are not quick to react. But it’s not as punishingly difficult as the other Souls-like games (at least not on Normal difficulty). On top of this, online players can join up with friends or randoms to make the journey more manageable.
Even though it takes a little while for the game to get going, it becomes very enjoyable after the first five hours or so. Remnant also has a more natural feel to its multiplayer than other games in the genre. Players can jump in with friends or strangers, grab loot and experience from that world, and bring it back with you to your world. To clarify on this point, the game procedurally generates your world at the start of the campaign. Therefore, your world is not the same as someone else’s world. This is a nice feature that creates variety in gameplay and increases replay value.
The gunplay is fine-tuned and works great within the genre, even though it hasn’t been an emphasis before. It’s also the most human of the Souls-like games. All of the other games in the genre feel like they take place somewhere other than earth (Dark Souls), in the distant past (Nioh), or a sci-fi dystopian future (The Surge). The characters, locations, and story objectives in Remnant: From the Ashes make it more relatable than the formerly mentioned games.
Even after addressing several issues on PS4 with a patch, technical issues remain. That isn’t to say PC and Xbox One were safe either. There are certain areas where the textures don’t form properly upon entering a room, music getting crackly before cutting out, and loading screens that go on for eternity (not quite an eternity, but I waited about ten minutes before giving up), to name a few. Human character animations during dialogue based scenes are also problematic. The hair on character’s head clips through their forehead and mouths open too wide before dropping too low. The creative decision to emphasize character interaction in this manner is a puzzling one.
The dialogue by the player controlled character isn’t terrible, but the amount of lines they speak is. There’s somewhere between three to five different lines of dialogue that they repeat ad-nauseum during and after enemy encounters. All bosses follow the same pattern: big hulking meat shield that spawns wave after wave of smaller enemies. This makes soloing bosses frustrating, and annoying because of the monotony.
Remnant: From the Ashes is a fascinating game with a lot of well executed mechanics. However, there are numerous technical issues and creative decisions that mar the experience. Hopefully, these issues will be addressed in near-future patches that will allow the game to shine brighter.