I’m not normally one for online multiplayer but the Darksiders-esque aesthetic (being developed by Gunfire Games) and comparisons to Dark Souls tempted me in to Remnant: From the Ashes.
The bonfire checkpoints (here represented by red crystals) combined with a focus on learning enemy behaviour and a streamlined weapon enhancement system all show clear From Software influences but Remnant still has a number of issues to iron out before it can really be spoken about in the same way. As things stand, Remnant is a functional, enjoyable, but slightly barebones experience. Whether Gunfire can polish this enough to compete with online titans like Destiny, Warframe and The Division remains to be seen.
The storyline of Remnant would fit right into the Darksiders Universe. Set in a post-apocalyptic world invaded by monsters from another dimension and where the remaining humans must band together to try and survive, you and up to 2 other players must venture forth and lead the fightback against the Root.
This is all well and good but doesn’t feel particularly different from a million other game and science fiction settings. The plot also feels secondary to the fighting, which would be fine were if not for the lengthy conversations you have around town. These mostly seem to serve no purpose, as there were no sidequests available during my time with the game.
Graphically, Remnant is good. Enemy design is interesting and the palette is highly reminiscent of Gunfire’s previous work. It’s a shame that the Darksiders licence couldn’t have been used as this could have been a great way to offer a human side to the divine conflicts depicted in that series. The only complaint I have about the visuals is the relative lack of variety in enemy types. Music and sound effects are fine but neither aspect is particularly memorable.
I spent a couple of hours learning the basics of the game in solo mode before looking to join up with other players and this was an eye-opening experience. Before you start to level up your equipment you will quickly find yourself swamped and killed by enemies. There seems to be little penalty to dying, however, aside from being returned to the last checkpoint.
This means that the early part of the game will revolve around a loop of gathering resources, dying and repeating. This turns the game into a rogue-lite of sorts which doesn’t really do it justice. The streamlining of resources and crafting makes things easier but also feels too simple as you only really collect iron and scrap, the former to level up equipment and the latter as the game’s currency. Later on you will require other types of iron for higher level armour and weapons.
Once I opened my game up to other players, I found the difficulty to be much better judged. Solo play, unlike similar titles such as Monster Hunter, adds too much challenge to be supported by the relatively slight gameplay. Alongside my anonymous online companion, I made rapid progress past the first boss after hours of not even getting close to him before then. Unfortunately, the decision to have no communication supported in-game made it much like having an AI companion. If playing with friends, you’ll have to set up a Discord channel to enable communication.
My early impressions of Remnant: From the Ashes are mixed. It’s a relatively barebones and basic take on the online co-op adventure but there is just enough there in terms of design and feel to keep me interested.
Whether I will be able to devote the time to really get the most out of it is another matter, but I am certainly keen to finish the story at least once. It doesn’t have the depth or range of other similar games though, so I’m not sure if it’ll attract enough players to stay viable.
Remnant: From the Ashes is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. We tested the PC version for the purposes of this review.