Remnant: From the Ashes is a third person survival-action shooter game that places you in a post apocalyptic world full of horrors. The monsters and bosses are well designed within appearances and the difficulty will keep you playing out of pride. I played through the story with two others and the thing that dragged us through was just that, our pride. Unfortunately the story left little impact on me, in fact it failed to grab me at all. I was fighting bosses for the sake of fighting bosses not to help or save the world, but to say we did it.

Developer: Gunfire Games
Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
Platform: Steam, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: 20 August 2019

The World

Exploring through the different worlds was interesting. The first two Earth and Rhom, were quite bland in appearance. The enemies within them were suited to their environments and did provide some difficulty. But once you’ve fought one special enemy, you’ll fight another a moment later and then another, they loose their ‘Special’ nature quickly. The irritating thing with this, for my party at least, was that the maps are procedural generated. What this means is the map itself will change constantly and the bosses you fight may be different throughout each play through; forcing you to experience the game through multiple play throughs. That is fine, it creates some sort of length to the game, but when you are lost the game becomes a true nightmare.

Earth.

Now, you could argue that this is a narrative choice and that the game itself is full of nightmares, so getting lost in that world would be horrifying. But it just becomes annoying, trying to figure out through which dungeons you’ve completed or partially completed just means you are redoing parts of the map over and over again. The random generation also extends to the bosses you will fight, forcing you to replay the game to experience its other bosses. But the thought of being forced to replay a world for a random chance at something you’ve not done, turns me off completely.

The final world however is where the designs actually start to become interesting. Yaesha, a swamp/forest area where the bugs within it are humanoid and violent. You have travelled here to retrieve the heart of a beast for the Undying King, but an option is given to you early in this world. The Iskal Queen that you meet within Yaesha offers you a choice as to who you give the heart too. Our group, being narrative and story driven players, considered the implications as to who this heart would be better for. After much deliberation we decided on The Iskal Queen and had to fight the Undying King, did it impact the story? Not really. Did it provide us with a little bit of deliberation? Yes, but we also chose the queen because she looked awesome, so there is that.

One thing that you will not be disappointing with is the exploration. Even though if you get lost is can become annoying there are secrets everywhere which adds to your curiosity. There are even some puzzles scattered around the maps, such as a bell puzzle we randomly found. It was fun to find this and it did provided a brief break from the onslaught. The treasure that we got, a pendant that granted bonus scraps (The money within the game), was not something we thought was that great. But it was a fun moment in a bloody game.

Gameplay

The game play however, was fun! The gun play felt good and the guns that you find throughout do some interesting things. But over all, everything dies with bullets. So it becomes a management sim for your ammo; that is until you buy lots of ammo crates, then you can shoot all the horrors in the face that you want.

Traits are what separate characters, you gain points through EXP and pickups within the game. You are then able to distribute these points to different traits, which will upgrade things such as health, stamina, exp gained, crits dealt and so on and so forth. It allows you to slightly specialise your character, I preferred to be a little out of the fight and dealing damage. So naturally I focused on critical damage and critical chance. I was able to one shot most minions so I began to focus on minion control and managing the waves that were sure to flow.

One thing that I honestly loved about the game was the weapons. The world allows for some crazy looking equipment/status effects and the devs clearly enjoyed themselves when exploring the possibilities. From crossbows that dealt huge amounts of damage to shotguns that shot poisonous balls of doom, they were fun to play with. I however opted to keep with the first weapon I got in the game, a simple hunting rifle. I was able to upgrade it quite high within the early levels and it just out damaged any of the other weapons we found. Each boss will give you a certain material, depending on how you killed it. That material can be crafted into boss weapons which were all as crazy as the last.

You also have different armour sets that provide different bonuses depending on the amount of pieces you wear, up to a max of three. The armour, for me, was surprisingly well designed and I did really enjoy the look they provided, even if some were slightly weird looking. They are fun to find and attaching certain equipment will help your play style.

One interesting mechanic that adds quite a bit of difficulty to the game is the healing mechanic. To heal you use a resource called dragon hearts and at the beginning of the game you are given three. Each heart replenishes when you visit the campfires/checkpoints throughout the game. What is interesting is that these dragon hearts also serve as your revives throughout the game. Now, when playing in a team of three, you might think that nine revives/heals is more that enough, but it is not. You have to manage between teammates and your own health, creating an anxiety around healing that is really interesting and provides some in fight strategy. Do you heal? or bring back your mate?

Scraps is the currency throughout the game and they are found in conventional ways. Looting and killing mostly. Scraps were always in short supply, if you wanted to both upgrade and buy some supplies then you had to manage that efficiently. The micro management behind do I just buy some ammo crates? Or do I upgrade everything and hope for the best? was quite interesting. If you got a new gun, you’d have to upgrade that rather quick to meet your needs. So running through levels again an again to gain the scrap you need is almost essential.

Boss Battles

One thing Remnant boasts is a wonderful selection of bosses, they are all designed so well!

They truly make you fear them and with so many in the game it is hard to pick my favourite. What was a shame however were the boss battles themselves. The balancing for multiplayer gives the bosses much more health, which should be fine right? Three players = three sources of damage. Unfortunately what happens is the bosses just turns into bullet sponges that draws the fight out to ridiculous levels, which is a shame because the bosses are awesome! The designs and attacks are intimidating forcing you to consider its abilities before you start shooting guns blazing. World bosses such as The Ent were interesting, but personally we found that the smaller bosses provided more challenge and were much more engaging.

Possibly the most infamous boss in the game, The Ent.

The first boss we fought was probably the hardest for us, its name was Gorefist. Now on its own, it wasn’t hard but with the surprising amount of minions that rush you and exploded poisoning you, it was forced to be hard. At this point we did not understand the game, we did not know how to upgrade our weapons or put skills onto them. As soon as we figured this out Gorefist was dead, we learnt quickly what the game play would be and how to split up effectively to manage aggro and minions.

Each boss sport an arena that works to their advantage and tested your ability to adapt quickly. Stepping through one of the Dark Souls like fog doors was always a scary thought, you never knew what you were going to face. At one point we were being chased through a underground facility of some sort, by a giant monster with claws bigger than its arms. Next we were thrown into a wide open area for a dragon looking creature to fire a grenade launcher at us whilst its smaller dragon friend set us on fire. There is no shortage of crazy bosses within Remnant, each as cool as the next.

ITS grenade launcher set me on fire more times that I could count during the fight.

Unfortunately the boss list was let down by the final boss within the game. The Dreamer/Nightmare, falls into one of the most bullet sponging bosses I have ever fought. The relief when killing it was more, ‘thank god that is over’, than ‘Oh my god, that was hard!’ which almost all the bosses made us feel. The principle is simple, at random Nightmare will select one character to go to the shadow realm. Then through killing minions in the shadow realm you get damage multipliers. Simple right? But it had so much health and only spammed one attack throughout the entire thing. The people that were not selected for the shadow realm simply did not fight it, instead just dodged and saved ammo. It was… anti climactic to say the least. Once you had done enough damage the boss then opened its chest allowing you to do mass damage to it. Which took so long to happen.

Conclusion

I enjoyed my time with the game but simply because my group allowed me to enjoy it through stupidity. That, I suppose, is the benefit of co-operative shooters like this, you make your own fun. If you want a challenging shooter to kill some time with your friends, sure play through Remnant: From the Ashes.

The bosses and world are both cool enough, but the problems take away from that potential. It would be really interesting to see how a second Remnant would do, because as I’ve stated the game was fun and the game play was solid. There is a lot of potential here and I have a feeling that using what was learnt from the first game, the second could be a heavy hitter.

Remnant is available on PS4 – Xbox One (Currently on GamePass) – steam.

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