Review

Remnant: From the Ashes Review - In My Sights

  • First Released Aug 19, 2019
    released
  • PC

Shooting with scraps.

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It's not difficult to pick out Remnant: From the Ashes' many influences. It mimics the format and grueling difficulty popularised by From Software's Souls series, pitting you against increasingly complex bosses and teaching you through failure. It mixes up its combat encounters with AI direction similar to Valve's cooperative shooter Left 4 Dead to make skirmishes exciting and unpredictable. Third-person shooting ties these two ideas together in a surprisingly cohesive way, which makes Remnant: From the Ashes a joyous action-adventure through a far less compelling world.

The world as you know it has been overrun by The Root--a force of sentient fauna with glowing red roots commanded by a single hivemind--driving humanity to the brink of extinction as they search for a miracle to end the nightmare. Washed up on a dark and gloomy island and torn down to the brink of death, you are the hero that one of humanity's final settlements, Ward 13, has been searching for. You're let loose on the world overrun by monsters to search for the Ward's former leader in the hopes that the knowledge lost with him might help expose the core of The Root's power and give you a fighting chance against the insurmountable foe.

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Although its opening moments hold promise initially, Remnant's world isn't interesting beyond the surface. Its characters stick too closely to familiar tropes and feature little to no development as you fight their war for them. The distrustful mechanic will happily craft new items for you but never shrugs off her off-putting demeanor, while her partner has nothing deeper to share beyond his initial backstory, for example. Inhabitants in the Ward congratulate you on your actions outside of its walls, but it never feels like you're progressing your relationships with any of them. This lack of personality makes Remnant's big revelations fall flat, too, and by the time it starts collecting all of its stray stories into an understandable thread you'll probably not care enough to take much notice.

The sheer visual variety of its world is more exciting. You visit four main areas outside of Ward 13, with each new one being strikingly different from the last. You start out in the desolate streets of an abandoned cityscape, exploring its dimly lit sewers and engaging in tense firefights on street corners. From there, things get far weirder. You travel to a blistering hot desert with oppressive metal labyrinths underneath just before you cut away the brush of a thick, dark forest illuminated by bright neon fauna. Remnant's visual themes are all over the place, which doesn't help its already confusing story. But while disjointed, the visuals are extremely well presented and beautiful to behold.

Remnant's gameplay is recognizable thanks to its blend of familiar genres and tropes. On paper, the combination of Dark Souls-style high-skill combat with the ranged-focused gameplay of a third-person shooter sounds incompatible, but Remnant brings its own flair to its influences that ties them together in an interesting way. Procedural combat encounters are at the core of this. Enemies don't have fixed placements in areas, with Remnant instead using a system to dynamically adjust both their positioning and density every time you enter an area to consistently provide a challenging skirmish. The unpredictability adds an enticing layer of tension to each combat encounter, where even small mistakes are punished by quick deaths at the hands of hordes of smaller, weaker enemies.

It's initially frustrating to not be able to learn enemy placements and patterns, but Remnant's forgiving approach to death balances this out. Although enemies hit hard and death is just a handful of mistakes away, you don't lose tangible progress when you die. You don't drop items or lose experience; instead, you simply respawn at your last checkpoint (large glowing red shrines similar to Dark Souls' bonfires), with the route ahead re-rolled and changed to present you with a new challenge.

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The emphasis on ranged combat changes the pace you might be familiar with from games of this ilk. You're given the choice to get as up close and personal as you choose with short-range shotguns and submachine guns or remain as far as possible with slow-firing but powerful sniper rifles. Each weapon type makes you consider the encounter they're best used for, but for the most part Remnant's combat favors aggression. The number of enemies it throws at you and the cramped design of its dungeons make longer ranges difficult to work with, while highlighting the devastating stopping power of medium- to short-range weapons. This undercuts a lot of the weapons you're able to purchase and craft, especially when taking into account the grind required for some resources you need to upgrade them. It was easy for me to stick to one loadout for the majority of my playthrough, incrementally improving damage instead of experimenting with new weaponry. Despite the dynamic combat, the stagnant nature of Remnant's loot works against it.

Weapon mods alleviate this to an extent. Mods give your weapons an alternate firing mode, ranging from simple healing effects to devastating AOE attacks that can inflict a number of status ailments on enemies. Most weapons let you exchange mods freely, allowing you to experiment with a combination across your two equipped weapons to find a synergy that works best for your playstyle. The number of mods you can both find and craft is plentiful, but their variety is what makes them impressive, making experimentation fun. Their effects are even more important when playing Remnant with friends (up to two other players can join your game), where the collective group build is important to counteract the increased difficulty associated with group play.

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In both the case of weapons and mods you can craft, boss encounters play the biggest part in providing you with the most exciting options. Each boss drops a unique item that can be used in a recipe for either, bestowing you with either the unique abilities of the foe you just overpowered or a weapon to mark your momentous achievement. Both of these require rarer resources to craft, and even more to upgrade, which makes investing in them a difficult decision to make. But it's impossible to not curiously venture back to your Ward after each boss encounter to see what new toy awaits, and even more satisfying to take it out into the world and fall in love with the power that was recently used against you.

Bosses also provide the best moments of Remnant's combat, pushing you into new strategies that can force you to reconsider your current loadout. Some bosses make good use of ranged attacks, sticking as far away as possible and using small tells to telegraph dangerous attacks that can quickly kill you. Others are overwhelmingly aggressive, chasing you down and closing gaps that make it difficult to get shots off in between a flurry of dodging rolls. Although some bosses share some behavioral traits, each of them features unique attack patterns and abilities that make each encounter dangerous to tackle and equally satisfying to overcome. The order in which these bosses populate the world is also randomized, making new playthroughs different to an extent. It's a confusing choice in practice, though, preventing you from predicting what boss-specific gear you can depend on at certain points during repeat playthroughs.

Confusing accurately describes Remnant: From the Ashes a lot of the time, especially when its combination of established ideas doesn't mesh. But for the most part, the experiment is a success, resulting in deeply satisfying combat against creative and challenging enemies. Remnant struggles to effectively transfer that success over to an engaging loot system and an interesting story to wrap it all up, but when you're blasting away foes with weapons crafted from the remains of your latest boss kill, it's hard not to do so with a wide smile on your face.

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The Good
Challenging enemies and unpredictable placements make combat satisfyingly tough
Bosses are varied and thoroughly entertaining to challenge
Crafting weapons and modifications from the remains of bosses is a nice touch to a hard-fought victory
Visually varied and impressively detailed worlds engross you in the action
The Bad
Story is a mish-mash of cliche tropes and incomprehensible lore
Steep upgrade requirements make it too easy to stick to the same loadout for a long stretch
Random order of bosses is an odd decision that makes it difficult to progress thoughtfully at times
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Alessandro beat back the corrupted tree foot soldiers of The Root and all manners of nasty, bloodthirsty creatures over his first 18-hour playthrough. He still loves his trusty repeater from the start and won't give it up. Code was provided by the publisher.
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Janpieterzun

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The game's a sleeper hit. What the review fails to mention is it has a greater emphasis on co-op dynamics compared to the games it tries to emulate. The shooting works, it's closer to a looter shooter, and it borrows a lot of mechanics from MMO boss fights, it has a fluid class or loadout system, you gain rank through attribute points that can change your character significantly compared with what you started it. It doesn't have levels so no grinding.

To say its a soulsborne clone does it a disservice. It has role system compared to a class, you have your standard melee or ranged tank, melee or ranged DPS, and ranged support/DPS and even pet classes. Which starts to differentiate it from a souls game.

Like a mmo and unlike a souls game where you really just buff your health and stamina, it closer mimics a looter shooter, this is the mmo/overwatch should have been but these guys managed to pull it off. The ai director is a brilliant choice, some time you feel the game is malevolent when it sees your group do well together and it tries to foil it.

Its a loot driven system not based on rng but based on victory conditions, and a revolving roster of bosses that you may never encounter. This system WORKS, is fun and vastly superior to rng found in games like wow, or borderlands.

Beat a boss without shooting its legs, you get one type of weapon, armor, or mod. Or shoot just its head to get this other item. Kill these twin bosses together to get a really powerful weapon, or just kill them in no order (these are things you see in an MMO not soulsborne)

There's even a boss that if you find clues in the story you learn of a lullaby that if you shoot at the bells in its arena in order, it falls asleep and you get another type of item.

All the bosses can be solo'ed and it has a good learning curve, the bosses are harsh without being cheap. The ai director keeps the battles interesting, even if you're high level with amazing gear it can toss you a curveball that leaves you dead.

I didn't want to give this game a chance, but my friend insisted and i don't regret it. Because the world is diffferent for each player it encourages you to go and help other people in their worlds, they may ave a boss or encounter that didn't show up in your game, this keeps the replayability quite high i found myself going into strangers games to see if i can find something i can't in my own.

This review is only cursory and doesn't even scratch the surface of the depth of gameplay, ambience, etc.

There's a freaking boss that spins the ground like a freaking turntable each difficult fight had friends and i laughing and having a great time. While all of our wives hated us.

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santinegrete

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Thanks for reviewing this finally. It had me really intrigued.

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VampireLord123

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The game is amazing, but yes it is hard to diversify the loadout when the game just keeps throwing at you tougher bosses rather quickly. If you have played games similar to this one, like the souls games, boss fights difficulty should not come at a surprise.

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TheBruuz

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Edited By TheBruuz

Played about 40 hours of this game and loving it.

If you're a Soulsborne fan, you will love this solo. For those who get frustrated learning things, you can always group up.

It's a good shooter, with a good difficulty treshold. You need to learn the bosses, and yes, some may require a bit of luck in your first attempts. After a while when you have a good build going, you start to learn how to deal with bossfights. They will still be hard, but you'll have a plan (using certain weapons, mods and gear, and having certain traits), and luck will be less of an issue.

The scenery is diverse and so are the enemies on each "plane".

In a way this game is like better version of Destiny, with more depth, builds, diversity, except it's not a looter shooter. Gear is more like a Soulsgame, sparse and every piece unique.

I don't agree with the minus points in the review:

The story is actually not given, but you yourself need to read, listen to peoples dialogues and such to know anything of the story. There are not a whole lot of cutscenes and no story arc to follow, besides the quest you are on since the start. It's a bit like a Souls game, you just take in whatever you want.

"Steep upgrade requirements make it too easy to stick to the same loadout for a long stretch" The same can be said for any Souls game. You choose your weapons beforehand and the build you're going for. The first playthrough is getting to know the game.

"Random order of bosses is an odd decision that makes it difficult to progress thoughtfully at times" Again, same thing with Souls games. You are not bound in a linear way to bossfights. You can even reroll you playthrough, which may yield different bosses, or join coop with the same effect.

And to top it all off it costs 40 EUR on the PS4 store. It's a top notch bargain.

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Tekarukite

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@TheBruuz: Agreed. I'm obsessed with this game right now, and I can't say the same for the Souls games. Also playing it solo, but looking forward to playing co-op. Apparently, that spices the game up even further.

But yeah, the gameplay is so satisfying, I don't mind that it requires the player to pull the story from journals and sparse dialogue. I just want to enter areas and shoot/hack things!

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PeterRoberts123456

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Put about 6 hours in so far. Can’t wait to go back

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off3nc3

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Heard alot of hype in regards of this game so i was expecting atleast an 8.

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Tekarukite

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@off3nc3: It is, don't let one person's minuses sway your opinion.

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It's a fair review. Really enjoying this game, even though it isn't perfect.

Remnant: From the Ashes More Info

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  • First Released Aug 19, 2019
    released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    7.3
    Average Rating22 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Remnant: From the Ashes
    Developed by:
    Gunfire Games
    Published by:
    Perfect World Entertainment
    Genre(s):
    Shooter, Third-Person, 3D, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature