In Try/Buy/Wait, Checkpoint writers review a game and give you a recommendation on whether to Try the game via demos/buy-and-refund, Buy the masterpiece of a game immediately, or Wait until the game is on sale – letting you know if a game is ultimately worth your money and time.
Your Writer: BChan
Top 3 Favorite Games: NieR, NieR: Automata, Monster Hunter: World
Favorite Genre: Hack-n-slash multiplayer RPG
Recently Finished: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Assassin’s Creed – The Fate of Atlantis, Katana Zero, Mordhau
Currently Playing: The Division 2, Final Fantasy XV, Remnant: From the Ashes, KillSquad
Bio: Lifelong gamer since 1999 with experience across all platforms and genres from RPGs, to MMOs, to FPSs and a Steam library of 400+. Always seeking to appreciate the perfect integration of gaming visuals with BGM.
One of the newest trending games, Remnant: From the Ashes released a few days ago and already it’s been gaining a lot of attention on social media thanks to early-release reviews – but it’s not as great as it sounds.
Before picking up the game I was intrigued by various reviewers calling the game things like “Souls-Like Shooter”, “Dark Souls Shooter”, “Dark Souls Looter Shooter”, and “Dark Souls Inspired Shooter” – and as a fan of the Soulsborne series myself, I decided to give Remnant: From the Ashes a try. I finally had the opportunity to try Remnant: From the Ashes on the midnight release for the 2 try-out hours I’m allotted by Steam. Within those two hours, I can see how others have come to call it a soulslike game. It’s exactly as others described it: a Dark Souls game combined with a shooter – where you’re playing a third-person shooter that feels like Gears of War but with more RPG-customizable-character-building elements. The game offers a loot and character stats system like the souls games while the combat starts you off with a melee focus but then it becomes more apparent that using your guns are way more effective.
Gunplay is clearly the main combat style in this game, featuring a not-too-punishing style contrasting the way Bloodborne’s gunplay has it, and in fact feels rather spammy due to the relatively fast rate of fire and low-recoil the way Gears of War has it. In addition, as each enemy drops abundant ammo, using up your guns doesn’t feel like something you would need to be carefully aware of, and likewise not something particularly special you’d be rewarded for managing. Despite, the gunplay not feeling like something revolutionary for a 3rd-person shooter, but still foundationally solid – headshots matter, audio quality is on point, there is some (though minimal) recoil and ammo management, and there are different kinds of guns with elemental mods which allow for some form of varied gunplay – but otherwise there’s nothing to really commend or complain about the gunplay.
Level-design and melee combat is where the game feels more inspired by the Dark Souls series, as you have levels offering linear branches where you can see enemies already walking around a level and it’s your choice when and how to engage them. The game’s melee combat and movement also takes some inspiration from the Souls series including an element such as a stamina bar. Like the Souls series, there are different weapons that have a dragging feel to them when swung, where there is an amount of pre-animation and post-animation per swing, and where you character is vulnerable to enemy damage mid-attacks. Unlike the Souls series though, weapon swings do not take stamina and there is no lock-on targeting system but rather a subtle snapping that assists player melee aiming. The game’s movement system consists of rolling, backstepping, vaulting, sliding, and running – all of which require stamina – which departs Remnant: From the Ashes from the Souls series, as stamina management feels more centered around world-exploration and movement than it does for overall actions and combat. An important caveat for a player like me who enjoys vertical exploration a la Assassin’s Creed though, is that there is no jumping or clambering within this game. Though this is understandable for a game inspired by Dark Souls, a game that features parkour elements such as vaulting and sliding but no jumping, just feels like a disappointing tease toward what the movement options in this game could have truly offered.
Some time after the game’s initial section/tutorial you are granted the ability to pick your character’s base-class – something that is changeable later on, but essentially outfits you with basic gear and weapons. This consists of the long-range Hunter, the mid-range Ex-Cultist, and the close-range Scrapper. The Hunter is given a sniper/sword combo and clothes that emphasizes critical chances and damage. The Ex-Cultist has a basic repeater/hatchet combo and gear that emphasizes skills for healing teammates. And the Scrapper is provided a shotgun/hammer combo with armor that allows for tanking enemy hits while increasing damage to enemies within close-range.
An interesting part to note is that an element of the game that draws incredibly obvious inspiration from the Dark Souls series comes from its checkpoints (buzz word there) system where characters “touch” a “flaming”, floating stone and subsequently takes a seat on the ground, one leg bent upwards and the other stretched out. If this isn’t a CLEAR homage to – if not a straight rip from – the Dark Souls series, I wouldn’t know what is – and I have over 1000+ hours across all the Dark Souls series.
The game also has a rather cliché story that clearly tries a little hard in puling inspiration from the Souls series: you have plant zombies (The Root) that have overrun some United States city, and despite no one knowing how it really happened, humanity is now living in the sewers hiding from these plant zombies. And you’re apparently the “chosen one” who’ll reawaken the “Chosen Dragon Warrior” who will save the world. This story isn’t really alluring to me and in fact feels like it was made by an overly-zealous anime nerd (weeb) who wanted to forcefully blend Asian and American culture together like the Hollywood live-action Dragonball movie. It’s bordering straight-up cringy though it is half-way saved due to its pseudo-cryptic character dialogue that helps keep a portion of the narrative subtle.
Looking at the game’s overall replayability system, Remnant: From the Ashes is a pseudo-linear multiplayer looter-RPG where different pieces of loot comes in armor, weapons, mods, consumables, and will ultimately allow for different builds and playstyles. Moreover, the game offers a traits-leveling system similar to the Dark Souls series. Based on this alone, I – as a fan of looter RPGs with customizable builds such as The Division, Monster Hunter: World, and the Dark Souls series – can see myself potentially sinking a lot of time into this style of game.
However, the game’s exaggerated, cartoony, top-heavy-human-figure art style in addition to my gripes on its gunplay, melee combat, and narrative are where the game doesn’t have me sold. Granted, I’ve only sunk in 2 hours into the game, I can see myself playing this game for its looter aspect, but I’m unsure for how much longer – or even if I would be moved to finish the game’s story campaign. Sure there feels like there is a hint of good replayability as this game has multiplayer, and seems to be open to mulitplayer boss-fights and possibly PVP matches – but even those that will most likely boil down to plain, standard 3rd-person-shooter skills seeing as there are no specialized executable skills for any weapon type.
One VERY notable thing about the game though, is its sound design! It has REALLY good ambient, monster, and directional sound design! Enemies don’t show up on a mini-map and you hang pretty closely to your player character’s back so you don’t get much visual spacial awareness, but the sound design from monster growls/movement definitely makes up for indicators. On top of that, the voice acting from the NPCs are actually pretty good – from rise and dips in voice tonality, to pauses, etc. – though the characters’ “matching animations” are sadly below subpar.
VERDICT: TRY FOR 2 HOURS ON STEAM
For a game that – simply put – feels like a mash-up of Gears of War’s combat with Dark Souls’ level and RPG-elements design, and forcefully smothering in Dark Souls’ cryptic narrative, I am not incredibly excited to continue playing Remnant: From the Ashes. It’s a hard read whether it’ll be worth the $40 and sinking any of our times into it, and kind of feels like it’s trying to sell itself on the “Dark-Souls-like” tagline. In addition to there being no vertical exploration, the game has me only half-interested in exploring more of its physical world – and I’d definitely not be interested in exploring the world for its forced Asian-American-esque narrative. If you’re still interested in this game, I would highly recommend that you TRY the game for 2 hours before making a final decision. If a mash-up between Gears of War and Dark Souls has been what you’ve been looking for, then go all for it – but the game still tastes like a mere fan-inspired game that had gimped on crucial game-development elements, and in turn lost its own unique identity.
Remnant: From the Ashes (@Remnant_Game) was developed by Gunfire Games (@gunfire_games), directed by David Adams (@DadamsDavid) and published by Perfect World Entertainment (@PlayArcGames). It was released on August 19, 2019 and is currently available for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, an PC via Steam platforms. The game currently retails for $39.99 USD sits at a Very Positive review from 2,000+ reviewers on Steam, and is categorized as a third-person survival action shooter.