Remnant: From the Ashes is a third person shooter and dungeon crawler set in a post apocalyptic future. On paper, that might sound generic and boring, but Remnant is actually a lot of fun. The game has strong core gameplay, with nice scenery and a decent story that keeps you wanting to see what happens next.
Let’s start with that gameplay. Remnant is a soulslike game, which means a broken world, subtle story, challenging combat, and epic boss fights. You’re given a primary gun, a sidearm, and a melee weapon, and there are a healthy variety of enemies to use them on. The customization in playstyle comes from collecting boss weapons and weapon mods that grant special powers, like incendiary ammo or a teleport ability. There are plenty of weapons to choose from, and boss weapons as well, which tend to be superpowered versions of standard weapons, like a revolver with an alternate fire mode. There’s plenty of armor to choose from as well, and armor grants passive buffs, alongside trinkets you can pick up and equip to further buff your character. There’s plenty of variety so you can specialize into whatever suits your preferred way to play. The main upgrades to your character are called traits, and they’re acquired by progressing through the world. You earn trait points via experience points, and you can spec into any traits you’ve unlocked. The only drawback to this system is that you might have really good early game traits, and the ones you unlock later won’t be as powerful because you level up slower. Overall, I really like the customization and weapon variety, even if it slows way down in the late-game.
For me, the boss fights have always been the highlight of soulslike games, and Remnant is no exception. Most of the bosses are well-designed and fun to play against, and I found myself getting excited and psyched up when I saw a boss arena in my path. Now, here’s the twist. Bosses are not the only enemy in the arena. Every boss has several normal enemies to distract you, and this plays into the co-op rather nicely (more on that later). This is where most of the challenge comes in, because if you have a gun, hitting the boss won’t be a challenge at all. You have to watch your flank and know when it’s time to back off because you’re about to get crowded out. This creates an interesting dynamic within the fight, and arenas have a lot more walls and stairs than big open spaces to allow the player to run away or reload or just shoot minions for a bit. Some of my favorites are the wooden dragon Singe, the twin moths, Ixillis XV, and the final boss, which I will not spoil because it’s much more fun to find out what he is for yourself.
Remnant has a rather short campaign, but you can also explore the worlds you discover in an adventure mode that lets you fight new bosses in new dungeons. I would highly recommend finishing the campaign first, then exploring adventure mode, if only so you have some knowledge of where you want to explore first. You can also reroll your campaign if you want to try and get some new bosses, or a second crack at boss loot you might want to get again, without making a new character. I find this feature really cool, but I haven’t explored it fully. All of this serves to make the game replayable, and to give the player new goals to work towards.
I mentioned co-op. Yes, Remnant can be played cooperatively with up to four players. This is the Borderlands flavor of co-op, in that you are a squad of adventurers in search of sweet loot and epic fights. More enemies will spawn if you have more players, keeping the game challenging. My recommendation is that you play with friends, but not with random players. I’ll say that about any co-op game, getting help from randoms isn’t quite as fun as playing with your friends. However, I got through the whole game only getting help a few times. It’s playable solo, but friends make it more fun.
Any soulslike worth its salt has a story, and on that front, Remnant is a bit lacking. That was the most anticlimactic sentence I’ve ever written, so let me explain. The player is an adventurer who is on his way to a lighthouse, searching for an end to the Root, a race of creatures made of wood that have laid waste to Earth. You find a safe zone in a place called Ward 13, and that becomes your home base. There’s more to discover about the Wards and how the Root came to Earth, but you’ll trek through other worlds trying to find the answer, and the characters you meet along the way are interesting to talk to and have their own stories. It’s kind of a shame you have to stop playing to get the full story for each world, though. Overall, the story is negligible but decent. This isn’t too much of a detriment to the game, though, because the game revolves around its combat, not its story. The story is there for context and to give you a reason to shoot the bad guys, and it does that well.
Remnant: From the Ashes is definitely worth picking up if you’re a fan of exploration and dungeon crawling. Variety in character upgrades coupled with adventure modes makes for high replayability, and the world is fun to look at and explore. It is challenging, and the campaign can be between 10 and 15 hours long depending on how often you die and how many friends you bring with you. It is fun with other players, but still enjoyable on your own.
Preistly Comment by Fr. Samuel Beardslee
“Games in the ‘soulslike’ genre tend toward darkness, both in look and in content. This game seems a bit ‘lighter’ in this respect, though not too much. Perhaps it’s the more nature-inspired enemies, or the weapon choices that give a greater sense of personal power within the world. If you’re interested in the world, this game is a bit of a spiritual successor to Chronos (a 2016 game made for Oculus Rift), and has a few connections to this game.”
Language: Some occasional swearing in ambient dialogue
Violence: gunfights are the primary gameplay, but there’s nothing too graphic