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Remnant: From the Ashes

by SCG
Key art from the game Remnant: From the Ashes.

Remnant: From the Ashes is a game with a bad title from a team best known for the Darksiders games*, of which I have played 1.1 of them. I really enjoyed the first Darksiders, but never played far into its sequel, and know very little about last year’s third instalment.

Remnant: From the Ashes is a game I heard about via word of mouth. For some reason a good number of my friends I talk about games with were all curious about it, or at least discussing it. Why might that have been?

Remnant: From the Ashes is a game which, from the first moment I heard about it, was mentioned in the same breath as Dark Souls. Ah, so that is why my friends were discussing it. We just can’t get away from Dark Souls.

Remnant: From the Ashes, a name which I won’t be typing in full any more, because this bit is tiring and isn’t funny anyway, does have a few similarities with Dark Souls. At its core, though, it shares more DNA with DarkSiders.

This means that the combat feels pleasingly “chunky”: ranged attacks land with a wallop and melee attacks slice through mobs of weaker enemies. Even if I didn’t know the provenance of the development team I’d have likened its feel, pace and fluidity to my memories of DarkSiders.

Similarly to that predecessor, Remnant‘s setting is a shattered remnant of human civilization. This time it’s something called The Root rather than the unleashing of Hell’s denizens that has brought this about. I’m approximating aggressively here, but basically some Ents living near Isengard got pissed about rare earth processing runoff polluting everything, just for mobile phones which end up in landfill after a couple of years.

Yeah, our biosphere is so fucked. It’s okay though. There’s a new Apple Watch coming out, and the screen always stays on.

Where Remnant does have some similarities with the oft-mentioned Souls games is in its level of challenge – it’s pretty tough – and its handling of death – which is something you’ll encounter regularly. Remnant has what are basically Souls bonfires, to which you return on death, or can rest at if you choose. When this happens, all slain enemies reappear. Boom. It’s more forgiving than Souls with its meta-progression, but also interestingly crueller, as new areas are reportedly rebalanced to fit a character’s level. You can out-level one area, but not the game.

I’ve now played enough of Remnant to have an idea of how its procedurally generated elements work, and its various imposing bosses. Each campaign is rolled on start, with the broad objectives the same but the exact layout, and which bosses appear where, varied. Where in my own playthrough I fought a dragon, a friend I joined for co-op faced one of those ents I mentioned earlier. Although I recognised much of the environment I explored with him, the way its components fitted together was very different to what I had battled through.

So far I like what I’ve encountered rather a lot. Solo it’s a tense experience; in co-op it’s intense. I recommend it if you have two friends; the worst thing about the game is that it doesn’t have four player co-op.

One proviso for anyone who picks it up based on my recommendation: get through the tutorial as fast as you can, because it doesn’t showcase combat well and the dialogue is impossibly dreary.

(*A team twice reformed: Vigil Games was not bid upon when developer/publisher THQ went bankrupt in 2013. Most of the team reformed as Crytek USA, a studio that survived about six months before its dissolution during Crytek’s own financial difficulties. Most of the team reformed again, this time as Gunfire Games, who ended up making DarkSiders III anyway.)

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