I try to keep up with all the new titles being released, and even track many indie and smaller studio titles, but sometimes one slips through the cracks and turns out to really catch the public’s eye. Remnant: From The Ashes would happen to be such a title. Admittedly I had not heard of this title until very recently. So recent that a week or so before taking on this review, I had only heard whispers of its name and a few screenshots. Game installed and loaded up, and now I see why this small gem is making rounds across social media…
Developed by Gunfire Games (Darksiders 2 and 3) and published by Perfect World Entertainment (Neverwinter, Star Trek Online), Remnant comes out of the gate strong with fun gameplay and solid visuals on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. The story is of a world in a post-apocalyptic type of setting, where an evil, called The Root, has come from another world dimension and is taking over the earth. Humanity is left to hide below ground and attempt to retake their world. You come in, as one of the last remnants of humanity, making your way across a city and stumble upon a group that needs your help to uncover the mystery of these creatures.
The game starts by having you customize your character’s looks. There are several choices for this portion of the character creation, but is mostly limited to picking a gender and then choosing the hair style, facial structure preset, skin color, and scars. Upon first loading into the world, I took a look around and got a feel for the character movement; noting the responsiveness of the controls while moving through the short initial tutorial. Overall things felt fine and the animation fit well with the character’s movement. I felt confident in my ability to proceed through the world and destroy the enemies at hand…
Eventually you wind up at a hideout for the humans in the area, where you are told the story of their plight and how you can help them in exchange for helping you. At this point you are also asked to pick a class. Yes– this is a class based games, but not so much that it inundates you with complex mechanics, stats, and class choices. Instead, you are given 3 choices from the basic types: sharpshooter, ex-cultist (kind of a middle ground/rogue type), and a warrior. I went with the ex-cultist as this style has generally always been my go to in RPG/adventure style games; in multiplayer shooters is where I lean towards the sniper class. After some brief info about the people’s situation and their relenting to trust you in exchange for help, you are set loose to take on the Root and get things started towards rebuilding the city above ground.
The gameplay style is like a Dark Souls shooter set in modern day. Not only do you get the enemy hordes, big bosses requiring lots of timed attacked and dodges, and mystical tools at your disposal, but you run equipped with two guns and the ability to upgrade their stats with all with mods that mostly provide a defensive perk or an offensive bonus. As a fan of the Dark Souls series — well, more of a love/hate relationship given its rather difficult yet fun gameplay, I had no problem picking up Remnant and enjoying it for game sessions that lasted hours at a time. Of course, this also comes with the well known frustration level of Dark Souls. Thankfully it doesn’t hit that mark too badly, leaving most people to enjoy the game more than rage-quitting. I admit I had a few times where I was ready to exit and walk away from the controls, but I pushed on and managed to complete my objectives to keep fighting the good fight.
Also in the same vein as Dark Souls, there are check point stones called World Stones. These are sometimes a large rune stone that also lets you travel back and forth from the home base to your check point, and sometimes a smaller camp fire. These points are perfect not only for saving your progress, but also a chance to head back to base to upgrade weapons and armor, or buy new equipment before continuing your quest.
Comparisons aside, lets take a look at the game system itself. The game includes a few ways to “purchase” things, but it doesnt add a major complexity to the game. There is the regular currency to buy items and new gear, and there is scrap that is collected on your travels, which can then be used to upgrade your equipment. At no point did I feel overwhelmed by all the collecting and scaveging, and then trying to micromanage my inventory. Instead it was a pleasant experience and quite easy to keep track of my upgrades, weapon mods, equipment, and inventory. The main things you pick up off fallen enemies is scrap, potions/items, and ammo. Simple and to the point of what you need on your journey. And touching on that, the item and potions you can find or even buy come in handy for clutch battles. Some of these items will provide instant ammo refill, stamina boosts, and more, while others clear your health status from bleeding, infection, and even give a slight healing boost. You can equip up to 4 of these items at a time for quick use.
As I mentioned there are mods that you can attach to your weapons. These can range from damage boosts, to health regens, to defensive distractions. One such mod added a chance to set the enemy on fire, causing a small constant damage for a short period of time. This was awesome to see occur, as the enemy is engulfed in flames and gets even more aggressive in its attempts to take you down. While the mods are great, another big help is the scrap upgrade system. As you collect scrap, you can return to the base and use them towards upgrading the stats on your existing weapons and armor. This is nice when you find a solid weapon or set of armor that you would rather upgrade than spending your currency on all new ones. Weapon choices or available mods not working out for you or you just need a little help getting past a certain area? Let your friends join your game to help you out for some co-op world-saving fun. I didn’t get a chance to test this out, but all of the videos and streams I watched looked like it added an extra level of fun, and made the boss battles less intimidating. And besides, who doesn’t enjoy some enemy bashing fun with their friends?
Beyond the gameplay there lies the skin of the game; the graphics, animation, and sound that help bring a game to life. Visually the title does very well. There are a few instances where it seems short cuts were taken, such as using 3-4 sprites to represent a fire in a trash can. Characters look nice until you get up-close, which is where things sometimes fall apart a little. The voice animation doesnt always sync with the dialogue that well, and the lighting on the character faces leaves something to be desired. Those issues are far and few however, and overall the game does look fantastic.
Ambient sounds do a great job of creating an eerie atmosphere. Hearing the root as they move about and search the areas keeps you on your toes, and sometimes offer a good startle as they drop right next to you from the ceiling or pop up out of the ground, ready to attack. Gun fire echoes in the tunnels and missed shots bounce and ding off of the structures, alerting you of their presence and them of yours. Potions are downed, with a visual flair to signify they have been consumed and now imbue your character with special stat bonuses. Well done on the graphics and audio Gunfire Games, well done.
In the end I was pleasantly surprised with this title, and honestly have a hard time turning it off and stopping the fun (and frustration). It may not be developed from a major studio with a huge budget, but it definitely hits the points needed for a fun and visually appealing title. 4.25/5 World Stones.