Review – Remnant: From the Ashes
Remnant: From the Ashes is the latest game from Darksiders 3 developer, Gunfire Games. It blends third person shooting, melee, some light RPG elements, and a ton of Dark Souls to create a great co-operative shooter.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where Earth has been overrun by an ancient entity known as “The Root”, a tree-like monster that roams the earth. You play as a survivor, searching the world for a way to stop the mysterious threat before it’s too late.
It lacks emotion, memorable characters and a driving force. I didn’t care much about the going ons in the world, especially when certain characters would drag on about it. However there are moments where there is some intrigue, especially when the more mystical elements come into play.
Visually, Remnant isn’t very impressive. Whilst not terrible looking by any means, it is just uninspired, with the world design just falling flat. The starting zone in a destroyed city, although initially impressive, got dull really quick, mostly due to each area looking the same as the last. This unfortunately is an issue for most of the areas and the only one that stood out for me was the lush forest zone. Thankfully, enemy designs are interesting throughout, with plenty of variety as you move through the zones.
The sound design, on the other hand, fares a bit better, with some great sound effects that make the world feel much more immersive. The way your footsteps react to the surface you are walking on and the sounds of monsters in the distance all work pretty well. Weapons for the most part all sound powerful. However, there are issues with directional sound, as I would often hear enemies from different directions than where they actually were.
Taking clear inspirations from Dark Souls we have limited healing items, twisting level design, boss fights, fog walls, bonfires, the reliance on stamina and unique boss weapons. Where it differs from its source material, however, is in its combat. Remnant is, for the most part, a conventional third-person shooter. The shooting feels good, with meaty combat and satisfying gunplay mechanics. Melee is also thrown into the mix, although it quickly fades to the background as the shooting takes the front. This might be for the better, since melee is too simple and clunky to be reliable, with no lock-on system like its main source of inspiration, but it can occasionally be fun to use it when tackling hordes of enemies. There is a good amount of challenge in here with new enemies brought in on a regular basis to stop things from getting stale.
Remnant is a procedurally generated game: in one playthrough, you will only see around 50% of the content it has to offer, since bosses and dungeons appear randomly as well. It vastly improves the game’s overall lasting appeal, as some friends of mine had a completely different playthrough than the one I had. It’s nothing groundbreaking ,and the repetitive nature of some of the tilesets does get tiring after a while, but it does keep things interesting. The only areas that aren’t randomized are scripted boss fights (ones that have story significance) and the hub world, Ward 13. The hub is a place where you will be able to upgrade your weapons, restock on items and overall get ready for your next venture safely.
Boss fights, a major component of any Souls-like experience, feel like a mixed bag here. Although none of them are especially bad in my opinion, very few actually stood out despite some interesting mechanics at play. Singe, a fire breathing dragon, could have been a fantastic boss fight but the over reliance on smaller mob enemies just brings the whole experience down. This sadly applies to a lot of the bosses.
Some mystical elements are solid.
Like most games nowadays, loot is a major component of Remnant, though it takes a slightly different approach from games like Diablo or Destiny. Instead of randomly generated weapons, armour and mods, the loot you get is actually scripted. Specific bosses drop specific items that can be traded for a weapon or mod. There are a few bosses that have a hidden objective that, if accomplished, will get you a different weapon. For the most part the weapons you get are varied and interesting, ranging from single fire rifles to crossbows and laser weapons, but I did find myself sticking to a small number of weapons. Although there isn’t a lot of armour options, they do have unique features that do have an impact on your gameplay style thanks to the perk system and status resistances. Equip multiple of each set and you will gain additional bonuses. Where things get really interesting is with the weapon mods that you can apply to most weapons (excluding special boss weapons with unique traits). Healing pools, shields, turrets, aggro grabbing roots and much more bring much needed build diversity to the game. Throughout my time in the game I would swap out my weapons and mods to see what combinations work for the character I want to build.
It’s important to note this is first and foremost a co-operative experience with up to three players. Story progression is only saved for the host, whilst loot and upgrades are unlocked for everyone. At first I found this mildly annoying, but the procedural generation and new boss fights I found in my personal save made up for it. Playing solo is possible, but certain areas and boss encounters it just becomes too much of a problem as the number of minion enemies doesn’t actually seem to scale and the aggressiveness of the bosses means there are no room for mistakes. A lacklustre solo effort, but still passable just be prepared for harsh difficulty spikes. If it becomes too much I recommend grinding out some upgrades or opening your game in public, I’ve left my game open a few times and it doesn’t take too long to find another player or two.
Gunfire Games is promising a wealth of a post-launch support for Remnant and I’m hopeful that it’s going to get even better. The ability to re-roll specific areas is coming soon and that should make hunting for the loot you want easier. New campaigns are also expected later on. This should hopefully solve some of the bigger issues I have with Remnant and I have faith in the future of this game, even though it’s already filled with enough content in its current state, with the main campaign lasting anywhere from ten to twenty hours.
Remnant: From the Ashes is a seriously flawed game but what’s good in here more than makes up for its issues, with some of the best co-operative gameplay I’ve seen in a long time.
The game makes up the fact that the environments are dull with some really good enemy designs. The lighting effects are also very good.
The strong overall combat mechanics make up for the otherwise uninspiring boss fights.
Nothing in the Remnant soundtrack department will grab your attention, but it’s not exactly bad either. The sound effects, such as gun noises and footsteps, are well implemented, on the other hand.
As a co-op shooter, Remnant is bloody good fun. As a single player shooter, it’s not worth your time, as it’s not well-scaled for solo play.
Final Verdict: 7.5
Remnant: From The Ashes is available now on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Reviewed on PC