Review: “Remnant: From the Ashes”

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Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: August 20, 2019
Price: $39.99

Written by Ash Anderson

After the release of Dark Souls III in 2016, developers buckled down to perhaps conjure up a title that would fill the vacuum in a now-Souls-less marketplace. Thus began the era in which we live currently: that of the Souls-like. They’re not hard to recognize. Generally taking place in a world without much backstory, a Herculean task is thrust upon the player – a task for which, in most cases, they are ill-prepared. And so they begin their trek, slowly but surely acquiring new equipment (or abilities) that is upgraded by a precious currency.

Gunfire Games (Darksiders III) has attempted to not only fill the gap, but also introduce a brand new way to play with Remnant: From the Ashes, a third-person shooter with many familiar systems from the Souls series, including three-player co-op. There’s a lot to admire in a world that’s been overtaken by a malevolent force known only as The Root – quasibiological creatures driven by a mysterious hivemind. You begin your journey in Ward 13, the last known bastion on Earth. Inside you’ll find merchants, an armorsmith, a weapon vendor, and refugees that have some interesting dialogue if you’re willing to talk to them.

Unique to Remnant is its talent system. You begin with only a couple of them unlocked – maximum Health and maximum Stamina. However, over the course of the game, depending on your penchant for exploration, you may unlock an entire cavalcade of character enhancement ranging from a boost to your Experience gain, debuff duration, weapon modification boosts, and more. Unfortunately, due to the procedurally-generated world, not all talents will be unlocked by all players.

Players are able to “reroll” their entire campaign in order to farm drops, bosses, and loot. But this isn’t always a boon: minibosses can spawn with random modifiers that can drastically increase (or decrease) their difficulty, leading to frustrating deaths simply due to a random number generator. What’s more is that more than a handful of mandatory bosses didn’t seem to be balanced for solo play. Even leveling a great deal further than was necessary for a certain area boss, I wasn’t able to claim victory without turning my game Public simply because a boss required us to defeat it in a very specific way – one that I really don’t think would be possible running solo.

The upgrade system is rather sparse, too. Weapon and armor upgrades take a very linear path, requiring one variant of Iron (Forged Iron, Galvanized Iron, etc.), with very few outliers. Boss weapons require a different currency, but that’s about as much variation as is available in the game as of this writing. It’s disappointing, really, as the world seems to have a tremendous amount of lore underneath its shell. It’s beautiful, grotesque, and often mesmerizing. There’s the making of a great game here, but it’s often bogged down by trying to do too many things at once.

Grade: B-

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