Remnant: From the Ashes is not an easy game to define. Some may refer to it as a looter shooter, others may suggest it’s a hardcore RPG. Others still may refer to it as a Soulslike. In some ways, it’s all three, but taken individually, none of these descriptions really do the game justice. Whichever way you look at it, though, Remnant is a difficult game that won’t appeal to everyone, but is definitely worth the time should you decide to try it out.
Set in a dystopian future where humanity has all been wiped from the face of the Earth by mysterious enemies known as the Root, Remnant puts players in the shoes of the last bastion of humanity.
Of course, they are also potentially the prophesied saviour. With little memory apart from the fact that your goal is to reach a distant tower, your first task is to help a small outpost fight back the Root and reclaim its power. Doing so awakens a red crystal, which allows transportation between areas.
Remnant: From the Ashes Review
From here, the player will explore along a seemingly enclosed environment, later to discover that these areas are procedurally generated on subsequent campaign playthroughs.
This means that every player will have a different experience on each playthrough. Not only will the layout of each area be different, but they may encounter different bosses, in a different order, sometimes not even encountering a specific boss until a subsequent attempt.
Further, the bosses themselves can “roll” (for want of a better term) with different abilities, effectively making them different each time you encounter them.
Over the course of the game, players will traverse through four different worlds, each with their own unique enemies and bosses, all of whom require a different approach in order to take them down. While the artwork can seem a little samey from time to time, I do recommend sitting back every once in a while to admire the work that has been put in.
There is a story to be told in the artwork itself, as well as within the design of the antagonists in each area, and I often found myself marvelling at the incredible art design.
Ride or Die
While the procedural levels and boss rolls encourage multiple replays, it is most effective when playing co-op, as it is the hosts’ world that players will be brought into. This will feel slightly different from the players’ own world within Remnant.
Thankfully, anything gained while playing co-op will be carried over to the players’ own instance; however, campaign progression will only count for the host. Given the boss encounters are different, this makes sense, but can be frustrating if you play a lot of co-op on someone else’s instance, as you are effectively neglecting your own.
The beauty of Remnant, though, is in the gameplay mechanics. Played out in the third person, Remnant is effectively a melee shooter hybrid. That said, don’t expect Warframe levels of speed. Like Dark Souls, this is a game of precise action, where every decision made by the player is likely to have an effect on the outcome.
Players are given two ranged weapons – a primary and a secondary slot – plus a melee weapon. By collecting resources within the game, players can purchase other kinds of weapons or, by collecting special drops from bosses, can craft special weapons.
Whatever they choose to bring into battle depends on their preferred playstyle.
Do you want up close and high damage? Bring the shotgun. Long-range? Hunter’s Rifle. However, there are a very finite number of weapons in the game. This is not a looter like Destiny or Diablo.
In effect, this is an RPG in which players find the weapons and armour that suits them best, and they work towards building upon them to handle the increasing difficulty of the enemies.
You Like it Hard?
This is a difficult game.
The weapons are finely balanced between damage output and risk. Higher output will generally fire slower, have fewer rounds in the magazine, and have a slower reload animation. Players are vulnerable when reloading, so this becomes key in the decision-making process.
However, players do have a dodge button, which provides them with a certain amount of invulnerability, but also interrupts other actions. You will also start out with three Dragon Hearts, which will effectively refill your health, but these can only be refilled at checkpoints.
Thus, play progression becomes clear. Work through from checkpoint to checkpoint, which acts as both your save point and your rally point. Here, you can return to the main hub to make purchases or upgrades, or simply rest to refill your ammunition and Dragon Hearts. Rinse and repeat.
Enemies themselves are quite varied and also heavily affect the decision-making process while in action. Some will move fast and cause devastating melee attacks. Others are more slow-moving but have ranged attacks. Later enemies will leave clouds of damaging gas upon expiry.
But each area will also have a range of mini-bosses, heralded by a bell sound. It should be noted that sound plays a significant role in the game as well, notifying players of the close proximity of enemies, and even of the type of enemies nearby – it is very well implemented. These mini-bosses are much harder to kill, and require a greater level of skill to take down.
And we haven’t even touched on the bosses themselves.
I’m The Baws
For the most part, bosses in Remnant are NOT bullet sponges. Sure, they have a much larger health pool, but they are also a much larger target. Each has a number of set abilities that players will need to learn to adjust to, but they will also have a number of other abilities that can vary between playthroughs.
For example, between two separate encounters with the Shroud, I encountered two versions – one that inflicted bleed-over-time, and another that spawned clouds of gas that could infect the player. Each affliction requires a different medication to negate – to staunch bleed-over-time, for example, requires bandages.
Of course, using bandages is a slow process that can not be interrupted, which again informs the decision-making process.
Lastly, but also quite importantly, ranged weapons can be modded. Standard weapons have a mod slot, and mods can be acquired or built throughout the course of the game, while special weapons will have set mods. These mods, however, do not simply affect the stats of the weapon – in many ways, they are abilities themselves.
At first, this is decided by your initial choice of character class. For example, the ex-Cultist starts with a healing mod; the Mender’s Aura. Pop this on a weapon, and it will gain energy with each kill that the weapon makes. When the ability is unlocked, casting it will drop a healing aura within a small radius, providing healing over time while within the aura.
A very useful ability indeed.
Over time, though, the initial class choice means less, as players can gain access to armour and mods that suit any and all classes. While you may start out as an ex-Cultist, you may develop into a Scrapper with time or a blend of each. Of course, the decision makes more sense in the early game and definitely informs the style of gameplay that players should adopt, but this flexibility means that there are no regrets 15 hours in, when you may have wished you made a different choice at the start of the game, it just doesn’t matter.
Roots, Bloody Roots
So how do players progress, what are the RPG elements within Remnant? Well, apart from the weapon choice, there is, of course, armour, and these have their own stats and provide minor bonuses. In addition, there are also three jewellery slots (two rings and an amulet), which provide certain additional augments.
However, the main form of progression is via Traits.
While there are no character levels, as such, gaining XP will unlock a Trait point every so often. The Trait points can also be found at certain locations throughout the campaign. These can then be assigned to various Traits. Traits are unlocked by completing certain tasks. Dealing a lot of damage to weak points, for example, will unlock “Exploiter”, which increases weak point damage.
Initially, there are only two default Traits (which increase Health and Stamina capacity), but there are an additional 28 to unlock across the game, and assigning Trait points will increase the effectiveness of the Trait. As such, players can then choose to build their character towards their own strengths, weaknesses, and preferences and all by deciding where to apply their Trait points.
If it hasn’t clicked for you yet, Remnant: From the Ashes is all about decisions. Making good decisions will reward you with hero moments and ultimately (or should I say, hopefully) with a win, and bad decisions will reward you with… death. Expect to see the death screen frequently but more importantly, remember to learn from your mistakes.
As a result, Remnant is a very rewarding and enjoyable game. For the most part, death is almost never the result of cheap boss tactics, and almost always because of a poorly timed decision.
Will this appeal to everyone?
Most definitely not. There are plenty of people out there that prefer to feel powerful at all times or to have a less stressful experience, so perhaps Remnant isn’t for these people. However, for everyone else, Remnant: From the Ashes will make a worthwhile addition to your game library.
Remnant: From the Ashes was reviewed on PS4 using a code purchased by the reviewer and code provided by the developer.
Game Title: Remnant From the Ashes