In one of the most exciting line-ups in the history of PS Plus, gamers can now get their hands on the FF7 Remake and Remnant: From the Ashes without parting with any of their hard-earned cash. While most of the focus will understandably fall on Square Enix’s masterful remake, Playstation owners should not sleep on picking up Remnant: From the Ashes as well. This game is an, excuse my use of this potentially triggering word, Souls-like Action RPG developed by Gunfire Games and released back in August 2019.
Story – The Root of It All
Remnant: From the Ashes is set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian version of Earth where a strange evil presence known as the Root has taken over. In this devastated wasteland, the player finds themselves on an arduous journey to try rid the world of this interdimensional foe. Such lands them at a less than glamorous safe haven known as Ward 13, where a small group of humans manage to survive. However, because nothing is ever so simple in video games, the player is immediately tasked with tracking down the founder of Ward 13, Ford, who has been lost somewhere across the shattered remains of Earth.
It’s a generic enough ‘big bad’ takes over Earth storyline, albeit with some unusual and interesting twists on the concept sprinkled in, but in general it is nothing much to write home about. The plot serves its purpose well enough without ever truly absorbing the player and should certainly not be considered the main draw for the game.
Gameplay – Brutal and Brilliant
As previously mentioned, the game borrows much from the Souls franchise in regards to its gameplay, most notably the punishing difficulty that the franchise is famed for, and does a great job of endearing itself to fans of the Souls series through its use of similar mechanics. From the unforgiving stamina bar management to the perfectly timed dodge rolls, Remnant undoubtedly will have many Dark Souls aficionados feeling immediately at home within its dilapidated walls. However, the game does several things which help it stand out as so much more than just another souls-like title (sorry again).
The biggest change is the addition of guns as a primary piece of your arsenal; the game is as much a third person shooter as it is an action RPG and it strikes this balance impressively well. Despite the immediate concern that the addition of shotguns and sniper rifles may dilute the challenge that so many gamers seek from titles such as this, the game works them into the difficulty with hard-hitting enemies ready to close the distance on you and the added concern of ammo conservation meaning rapid fire will only get you so far.
The other stand-out element here is its Co-Op gameplay. The Dark Souls franchise of course had Co-Op gameplay as well but it made it almost as difficult to play a quick game with friends as it did to take down any of its myriad of over-whelming bosses. Remnant is a game that wears its co-op capabilities proudly on its chest and is all the better for it. The joy of finally overcoming one of its dungeon-dwelling bosses through sheer force of will and crafted strategy with a couple of friends is a tough feeling to match. The elation of conquering a boss in the Soulsborne franchise is a hard sensation to replicate, and equally tough to explain, so having a couple of friends to share that feeling truly is the best gift the game gives us.
The boss fights are where the game truly delivers as well. The dungeons crawling with basic enemies can be good fun but are usually just a distraction until you work your way to the big fight you’re looking forward to. There are some brutal difficulty spikes at times in the game but the feeling of satisfaction when you get past these belligerent behemoths is only enhanced by these spikes. Each boss requires tactics and teamwork to take down and they do a great job of making even the most gifted of players feel like they’ve truly earned their victory.
That all being said, the mechanics of the game do not quite match up to Dark Souls‘ famed combat system. Do not get me wrong, they are extremely solid and satisfying to use but just at times can feel frustratingly clunky in the midst of an intense battle. In a game that punishes your inability to react to situations, you can often find yourself victim to a cheap death. This could be due to the occasionally awkward switching between ranged and melee attacks or simply being caught out by enemies that seem impossibly quicker than your character does.
The game world in Remnant is also randomly generated, which adds much to the replayability of the game, but admittedly can occasionally leave dungeons and encounter areas feeling stagnant and similar due to a lack of focused attention to the environment on the developers part. However, it must be said that this is not the overarching feel or aesthetic to the game, as it does well in these areas the majority of the time. With interesting and varied boss battles to boot, it can occasionally fall into this particular hole which can take away from the immersion of the game.
Graphics and Audio – Striking Visuals and Visceral Strikes
Despite the intermittently interchangeable backdrops the player can occasionally find themselves in, overall it has to be said that Remnant is a fantastic looking game. The dystopian world is realized with a haunting beauty throughout as all manner of flora and fauna twists its way through the cracked streets of an ever crumbling Earth. The game does not lack for graphic prowess or jaw-dropping visuals and, some long loading screens aside, runs extremely well on the PS4, allowing players to truly immerse themselves in the world and enjoy the spectacle that the developers have created.
The audio in the game also deserves praise because it serves its purpose extremely well. The crunching battle sounds add a weight and power to the combat that is extremely satisfying and the soundtrack is understated, haunting and fits perfectly into the games carefully crafted aesthetic. The game audio as a whole adds a lot to the experience and does an excellent job of immersing the player in the world and makes them feel as if they are swinging every blade and pulling every trigger.
Remnant: From the Ashes was reviewed on Playstation 4.