Remnant: From the Ashes has garnered a pretty fast growing reputation for being a Dark Souls esque video game. This is due to the fact it’s a difficult over the shoulder perspective game. One that has linear level design, hard hitting enemies as well as tough bosses. The game also features a pretty fun co-op system that sort of reminds me of Left 4 Dead due to its drop in and drop out nature.
Let’s get the setting out of the way quickly first before I jump into the mechanics. Remnant as the name suggests, takes place in a sort of post-apocalyptic world. One where the Root have taken over. The Root are the main enemy faction of the game, and I like that because they’re a pretty unique take on an enemy type. The Root are forest atronach like beings that in a way, signify nature’s revenge on mankind. At least that’s my personal take on them.
You create your character and start off washed on an unknown shore. You have clothes on you and a basic starting weapon. After gauging your surroundings and exploring a bit of a prologue, you find yourself in Ward 13. Ward 13 is the main hub/home base that you can call a sanctuary of sorts. Here’s where you can chill in your downtime, manufacture/craft weapons or mod them, and even matchmake with players.
The Root have a heart that control them. The location of the heart is sealed within a tower, a tower that can only be unlocked by somebody called the Founder. Seeing as Ward 13 is low on staff, you’re the guy who’s now on a search and rescue mission to find the founder.
The tutorial was a bit slow but it did a good job of giving me the basic idea of the game. When and how to attack, conserving stamina, dodging attacks etc. I really didn’t like the cutscenes though. They looked really bad and failed to capture a sense of dramatic attention or detail. The voice acting in the game is also nothing extraordinary. Not to say it’s bad or anything, but it’s just forgetful.
You then get to pick from a trio of classes to start off. Similar to how any action-RPG works. The class mainly determines your gear aesthetic however. The rest of how you shape your character is completely upto you. Sort of how starting classes only give you minor stat boosts. It isn’t like Destiny where one class restricts you to that playstyle.
You’re armed with a primary weapon, a secondary weapon and a melee weapon. Ammunition is something you’ll wanna be conserving most of the time. It’s availability can be compared to games like Fallout New Vegas. You could end up with a lot of it, but it’s hard to come by usually. The way the game encourages you to play is using your firearms for more dangerous enemies. You remember in Call of Duty zombies where you only knife the first wave? Same concept. Melee is encouraged on the Root enemies that aren’t beefy or tanky.
Other than that, another interesting feature of Remnant is that the campaign has procedural generation. This means every campaign layout resets itself when you do it. Not only that, joining a friend’s campaign in the same level as you are won’t be the same either. This is due to the dungeons in each map being reset. You’ll often see enemies in a level that you don’t normally see until further levels. This gives the game a lot of replay value. Especially because you could miss bosses and certain enemy types per playthrough. It is a bit annoying though, to base one’s experience on RNG, but at the same time, it keeps the game fresh. You won’t feel like mundane repetition when helping a friend of yours go through the same stage as you in their world.
The game also has a loot system of course. It’s not what you’d expect from an Action-RPG though. Instead of finding weapons or gear from completing bosses and puzzles, you get crafting components instead. Components that you can basically use to make a pretty wide range of weapons. Your primary gun can range from being a flamethrower to a locust shooter to a minion spawner. The possibilities are pretty vast, though the rate at which you get these rewards is a bit slowly paced. You don’t get a lot of gear type loot, and the really juicy stuff you want to craft with is a good bit into the game. It’s definitely worth the effort though when you feel your character packing more firepower.
The environments aren’t too bad. It’s a pretty cliche overgrown post-apocalyptic Earth setting initially. I’m sort of a sucker for that setting so I don’t necessarily mind it but I can see why some people might find it tedious. Later into the game, the environment does expand pretty nicely into a mix of medieval aesthetics and even extra terrestrial vibes. The game takes you from exploring an abandoned ruin of a city to weirdly erected knife like structures out of the ground to old spooky castles. I did love some of the environments, and especially how the combat came into play with them.
The game’s lore functions a lot like From Software’s style of story-telling. You find out more about the story and world by either brief cryptic interactions with NPCs or via item descriptions and environmental storytelling. I honestly do like that style of story because of how it leaves a lot up to a player’s creative interpretation. After all, Big hat Logan was called Big Hat Logan because of his big hat no?
The game’s combat and overall mechanics operate a lot like a survival game. You’re not an overpowered juggernaut shoulder bashing your way through the enemy lines. Instead, you’re a well equipped hunter who can still be one shot or stun-locked into oblivion by any foe stronger than you. The perspective makes the game feel like a Gears of War style cover-shooter, but that’s not what it is. More often you’ll find yourself cleaving at an enemy, dodging away from another lunging one and then blowing their head off with your shotgun. It can get pretty exhilarating at times, even more so with friends.
A party of up to 3 players can be made. Beware, playing in co-op also buffs up your enemies to keep the game balanced. That shouldn’t stop you though right? The co-op is also drop in and out. You can play offline, open your group to the public or keep it to just friends. Fun stuff. Also, the way co-op works is that obviously you can combine abilities but you can also revive each other. Failure to revive leads to spawning at a checkpoint, either when the player reaches one or when you all die as a team.
Boss fights in the game are pretty volatile. Sometimes they can be super fun but other times they’re tedious. Especially when the utilize the infamous gank mechanic of sending a lot of minions at you. Those just really annoy me in any boss fight unless the minion aspect is very well designed. Some bosses also kind of push the feel of needing a co-op partner in order to proceed. I’m sure they’ve been play tested to be able to be done solo as well, however.
The only complaints I have with the game involve the camera, pacing sometimes, voice acting and sort of lack luster story. The camera is a bit too close to the player and makes it hard to see around them. Especially considering how you have to dodge enemies attacking from every direction. It feels a bit too stiff and rigid at times. The pacing can be kind of sluggish for the same reason. Not enough to be annoying, however. The acting is just a bit bland but not terrible, only forgettable.