Remnant: From the Ashes Review – A Shooter With Soul
Gunfire Games looks to take the Souls formula to new heights with the release of Remnant: From the Ashes. A third-person survival action shooter, this title is set in a bleak, dark world, where humanity has been pushed to near extinction. Players will take on the role of the last few remaining survivors following invasions of ancient evils from other dimensions. Do you have what it takes to survive, progress, and rebuild in a world where even the plant-life is looking to tear you apart?
Remnant: From The Ashes Review
Remnant: From the Ashes wears its Dark Souls inspiration on its sleeve. From the fan favorite camp-fire type approach to checkpoints, to the fog-like doors that bar the entry points to the games myriad of bosses. Much of this inspiration is a boon to the games intention, creating an immersive, challenging, yet somewhat familiar environment combining many of the Souls games best attributes with a new, creative direction.
One particular area in which Remnant: From the Ashes is a little lacking is its narrative. The story is solid, but it lacks variation, delivering small tidbits of story between missions and in short cutscenes, lacking the depth of similar games in the genre awash with collectibles, hidden lore items, and various means of providing additional detail to players.
That being said, there’s still plenty of story to dive into. Earth has been taken over by The Root, an alien life form that has all but decimated human life on Earth. With mankind’s determination and affinity for technology, portals transport you to various worlds as you look to rebuild and fight back. Much of the journey is saving new allies, learning what you can, and moving on to bigger and badder threats.
While Remnant: From the Ashes may be somewhat lacking to lore buffs, it more than delivers on those more interested in the Souls experience for its combat, progression and infamously difficult boss battles. Each of the games environments are dynamically-generated each playthrough. This results in a huge level of replay value and an aura of excitement and intrigue as you look to discover new loot and bosses previously missing in action on your first attempt.
Earth, the first environment you explore, is a mix of sprawling city streets, dark and damp sewers, and a twisting network of subway tunnels. While the overarching design remains the same, the routes, enemies, and rewards are different each attempt. I completed Earth on 10 different occasions, and not once did I experience an identical combination of random events and boss battles. My first playthrough, I battled a giant tree and failed to save two NPCs from an onslaught of challenging enemies before finding a tree that didn’t speak my language.
On a subsequent adventure, I battled a fiery dragon, found a special mask, and discovered that same tree. However this time, wearing the mask, I was able to talk with the tree which unlocked some new equipment and a new trait. These intricately connected stories and events are incredibly satisfying and rewarding, featuring throughout the game on many different levels, and changing each time you begin a new adventure on the same campaign.
Remnant: From the Ashes truly shines with its unique progression system and rewards. Your character enters the battlefield with a set of armor, primary weapon, secondary weapon, melee weapon, and an assortment of Traits and Mods – each contributing to a highly detailed yet completely transparent stats system. Weapons are entirely accessible for any character; you’re not tied down by class choices or other restricting archetypes, and each weapon can be improved and customized.
Customization of weapons comes in the form of Mods. These special abilities are pertinent throughout, often being the difference between life and death. As you fight with weapons, mods become powered and eventually allow for the use of a power ability or weapon modifier. I often found myself falling back on my Explosive Shot, a modification that lets you launch a grenade-like projectile into groups of enemies but tons of other mods are available, many more exciting and fantastical than the last.
While mods offer an instant degree of achievement and satisfaction, a greater level of pride comes with the advancement of Traits. Whenever you unlock a trait, it is automatically equipped to your character. Each Trait offers substantial stat bonuses across the board. Increase critical hit chance, improved reload speed, additional armor, nearly every stat can be heavily customized and influenced with a combination of traits and mods – allowing for extensive build options and tons of variety. This is a plus – you’re going to need it.
Remnant: From the Ashes leads the charge in its delivery of enemy variety and challenge. The average front-line troops of the enemy can be shot down, chopped apart, and blown to smithereens with little effort, making you feel nigh unstoppable, well, at first. The front-line enemies grow in number, they evolve in abilities, they start attacking alongside elite enemies with much more varied and stronger abilities. Just when you think there’s nothing the game can throw at you, you’re pushed to your limits, struggling to survive that final encounter before the next checkpoint.
The same can be said for the boss battles of Remnant: From the Ashes, the backbone of the genre. I have emerged successful from approximately 14 different boss encounters, each was challenging, exciting, and just waiting for a simple mistake to whoop my ass – which happened more than I care to admit.
The latter aspects of the game do struggle with lack of polish. There are regular reports of lost saved progress, the matchmaking function appears to be having issues on Xbox One, and many players are reporting game-breaking issues with the final boss. I experienced a few very minor issues, nothing major, but it’s safe to expect you will encounter some problems in the days following launch.
Brilliantly crafted boss encounters, challenging enemies, immersive environments – Remnant: From the Ashes has everything you could want from a Souls-inspired game and more.
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