Remnant: From The Ashes is neither your typical souls-like nor third-person shooter. It’s a blend of the two that provided a great experience on consoles four years ago, one that’s now made the leap to Nintendo Switch and hasn’t lost much in the transition. There’s a lot for players to dig into in this title, and in a world where value for money is becoming more and more important, this game stands above its competitors.
The story in Remnant: From The Ashes isn’t what you play for, but there is at least one you can follow. However, most of it is told through a small set of characters and pieces of lore you find out in the world. It’s interesting, but I thought it was more background noise compared to the real star of the show here. The gameplay.
This game takes the ideas perfected in Dark Souls and answers the question of whether FromSoftware’s beloved series would be any better with guns. The answer is a resounding yes, and developer Gunfire Games has gotten the gunplay just right ahead of anything else to ensure its game has a strong foundation. No matter where you are, aiming down sights and firing away at an enemy always feels satisfying and fair. There are melee weapons, but they’re much more of a last resort than something you’d actively opt to use.
The core gameplay loop revolves around exploring procedurally-generated worlds alone or with other players while fighting for the final few remnants of humanity against hordes of evil named The Root that have devastated the planet. Every time a world is loaded, new chunks are put together in a random order to keep things fresh. This means you’ll never have the same experience twice when jumping in with others or vice versa.
As you shoot your way through enemies, you’ll uncover story beats, quests, hidden NPCs, and powerful boss creatures to slay. The game can be grueling, as you’d expect given the titles that inspired it, but when playing with others, it’s manageable. I found in my time with Remnant: From The Ashes that solo play, at least early on, was almost impossible. You definitely need help to take on the story for the first time, but you can punish yourself with solo play and higher difficulties later. As you may already have known, the focus here is on playing with others to enhance the experience.
There’s a decent range of biomes to explore, though some are more interesting than others. The game’s visuals never did do a fantastic job of rendering the beauty and desolation around you, and on Switch, those visuals have taken even more of a dive. Characters look like they’re straight out of the original Thunderbirds series, and the textures don’t pop as they should. With that said, this is what we’ve come to expect of some Switch ports. Given that the core gameplay loop is there, it’s hard to complain about a visual downgrade.
As you explore and fight your way through the world, you’ll find crystals that act like bonfires. These revive enemies and restore your healing items, health, and ammo. There’s no punishment for death in the game, so there’s no need to panic about grabbing XP from your grave. This streamlines how it feels to play, allowing you to upgrade specific aspects of your character as you progress or die and adapt to the things that are trying to kill you.
For example, I was put down by one creature that hemmed me in in a corridor and shot me down with an organic minigun. After upgrading my weapons, I felt much more capable of killing it, but also outsmarted it as I moved forward. Adaptation will help you win in this game, and it extends to more than just tactics. You can upgrade weapons and armour; you can also get weapon mods that apply a specific effect to your firearm of choice. These often have a drawback required for use, such as hitting an enemy in the weak spot three times before you can deal additional damage at double the power. It’s a fair system and one that adds more character to the protagonist.
I can’t talk about upgrading your weapons without mentioning Traits. These are skills that will give you the added abilities you need to get through some levels in the future. Some upgrade your rate of fire, your defense, or your melee attack damage dealt. They’re far from central to your build, which can be tweaked to fit your needs over time, but they help you go from your starting character to one that you’ve been dying to play as for hours. A lot of attention has been paid to the enemy design and weapon variation. You can easily switch out your current loadout for something else if you want to try a different play style against a boss or area just to see if it will help you succeed where you’re failing.
For me, it’s the world and rich lore of Remnant: From The Ashes combined with the deep gameplay experience that makes it stand out. There’s nothing else quite like it out there and you can have a really good time exploring and methodically trying to take out bosses as you go. So, take a stand!
Remnant: From The Ashes £34.99
Remnant: From The Ashes is a brilliant co-op shooter that takes elements of Dark Souls and combines them with other elements to create something fresh. It will occupy you for dozens of hours and frustrate you beyond belief, but it sure is worth it.