By Terris Harned (NWOrpheus)
In case you’ve missed me saying it the last half dozen or so times, Soulsborne games really aren’t for me. I will fully admit it’s because I’m just generally bad at them, and it’s just not my style of fun to throw myself bodily against enemies until I “git gud”. Don’t get me wrong, I respect the games for what they are, and the right of other people to like them. As I’ve also said in plenty of places before, “Not everything is about me”.
Point being, when I picked up Remnant: From the Ashes, I was under the impression it was more of an MMO style game, or at least something like Hellgate: London. In fact, the two have a lot in common. Both have three classes, and those classes are quite similar in nature: each game has a melee/tank type, a midrange support, and a long range hunter/damage dealer. Both involve dealing with a supernatural force that has invaded Earth, and each can be played as third person, though I believe Hellgate: London also has the option to go first person mode.
From here, the games diverge quite a bit in their styles. Hellgate: London plays more like a 3D Diablo game, while Remnant: From the Ashes (Remnant for short) follows much more closely the Soulsborne style gameplay. The combat is visceral and punishing, and a scant few missteps can lead to being killed.
There’s a decent audio telegraph for the raining arrows thing, but you have to learn to listen for it over everything else going on.
Thankfully death in Remnant is relatively forgiving. You’re sent to the last checkpoint that you visited, and the smaller weakest creatures are respawned; however the larger and tougher foes, such as the Root’s Brute or dual sword wielding Hunter, only have a chance to respawn. If they do, a chime will play to forewarn you. You keep all items and experienced gained since your last checkpoint visit, but also lose any consumables you used. It’s also worth noting that in multiplayer you can use your Dragon Heart, used as a self heal in single player, to bring an ally back to their feet. If all players are downed (up to three players per session), then you will all begin back at the last checkpoint.
Any time your entire team returns to a checkpoint, all health, Dragon Heart uses, and ammunition are replenished as are the enemies of the level, similarly to when you die. This can be useful if you’re under powered for an area, and wish to collect scrap and iron, or experience to level up. Other items, such as consumables that are randomly placed around the map, won’t replenish unless you reroll your campaign however.
There are two essential ways of advancement in Remnant. The first is by increasing traits. Earning experience will gain you trait levels, and each level offers you a single trait point. Trait points may also be gained by discovering Tomes of Knowledge hidden in levels. Traits themselves offer a variety of benefits, from increasing your stamina or health, to increasing your damage. Some traits you start the game with, but others must be unlocked by completing various tasks, such as defeating a world boss or other more secretive methods that I won’t spoil for you.
Both world and dungeon bosses will drop items which can be used for crafting. Crafting and upgrading is the secondary method by which you increase the power of your character. Upgrading typically requires iron, or one of its advanced variants like hardened or forged iron, and scrap. Scrap is the general currency of Remnant and is obtained from killing enemies, opening chests in levels, and even by breaking wooden objects such as crates, chairs, and bookshelves, both in levels and in the game’s main hub, Ward 13.
Weapons, armor, and weapon modifications must all be crafted in Remnant, aside from the three sets that you may select shortly after starting the game, and some lower level gear that can be found. The sets come along with the three primary archetypes: Scrapper, Ex-Cultist, and Hunter. It is worth noting that all of the gear – weapons, armor, and weapon modifications – that comes with these archetypes can also be readily purchased early in the game, so your initial choice doesn’t really matter in the long term. You’re not locked into anything.
I really like that the characters mostly look older and grizzled, not baby faced and pretty.
A few last things to add about gameplay that I think are worth noting. First is that the levels of Remnant are dynamically created. While an area may look similar, the placement of enemies, items, and even the actual layout of the area can vary from playthrough to playthrough. This gives the game a fair bit of replayability.
Not all dungeon bosses will even load on every generation, meaning if you truly want to collect all the gear available, you’ll need to either reroll your campaign, or play through the game’s recently added Adventure Mode. You may have one Campaign and one Adventure mode “save file” for each character, and either may be reset at any time. Adventure mode even allows you to travel to one of the game’s alternate worlds before you have reached those areas in the campaign. Be careful, though, as these advanced areas may prove especially challenging.
The second issue I had was the fact that there was no text chat in multiplayer mode. There is a push to talk option for an integral VOIP in the settings, but there is no default setting for it. This made my brief experiences into public multiplayer (when you log into a given play session, you may choose private, friends only, or public multiplayer settings) feel impersonal, and, well, this:
I am not Finn the Human in this sequence. Adventure Time copyright Cartoon Network.
My last beef is a relatively minor one, but perhaps I got spoiled while playing Ashen for my review of that title. There is no way to lock onto enemies in Remnant. With Ashen being more heavily focused on melee, and Remnant having a combat system more focused on ranged weapon skillshots, I can understand why this is the case. Yet I still felt the lack at times, especially when trying to play as the scrapper.
The lore in Remnant is an area where the game shines. There is a well thought out and comprehensive story that is unveiled as you play. Some of the lore comes from interacting with various NPCs that you encounter, while other comes from tomes, journals, and scrawled notes scattered about. I felt this type of exposition was overall enjoyable, even if the dialogue options felt more or less irrelevant, as they don’t actually change the outcome. Still, there’s some funny stuff buried in there.
I also overall really liked the controls and movement. I felt like the dodges weren’t insanely long, and I really like the way you vault obstacles. Given that there’s also no way to block attacks, and you must instead either dodge or interrupt them (where possible), you’ll be using the evade maneuvers a lot, so it’s good that they have an appropriate feel to them. I also really liked the fact that you can switch the shoulder you’re aiming over, which makes corner checks feel really good.
Simply tapping the shift button lets you switch which shoulder you’re looking over. A feature I feel more games could benefit from.
While I might not have set out to play a Soulsborne game, and I still probably won’t go looking for such types of games to play in the future, Remnant: From the Ashes is absolutely a strong showing in the genre. It has an elaborate lore, good controls, and rewarding advancement pacing and methodology. I can very much understand, after playing Remnant, what other people see in the genre. I absolutely would recommend Remnant to other people, and give it a firm 4 out of 5 table flips. (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻
Note: A game key was provided for review purposes.