A Solid Souls Shooter
Remnant: From the Ashes certainly feels like a Soulsborne with guns. From bonfires and foggy doorways to brutal bosses and dodging, it’s got it all. Remnant does take a few liberties by including an arsenal of over-the-top guns and a high degree of character build customization. Playing off of its inspirations, this is a difficult shooter, and it takes a bit of time for the exciting Soulsborne gameplay to blossom. My initial few hours were underwhelming, but as time went on and I grasped the mechanics, Remnant opened up and became a stylish, unique shooter worthy of the comparison.
Remnant: From the Ashes a cooperative third-person shooter by Gunfire Games and published by Perfect World Entertainment. In Remnant, players take the role of a customized character who searches for a man called Ford. With a short tutorial at the beginning of Remnant, my expectations started low and only grew exponentially from there. The story is extremely subtle and opens up only if you search for specific bits of lore and take your time. Despite this subtlety, Remnant's world is extremely intriguing to discover, making it a worthy endeavor.
Combat in Remnant: From the Ashes
Players begin by choosing one of three archetypes for their character. These dictate your starting weapons, but Remnant by no means restricts players from using whatever weapon they desire. Because Remnant features both melee weapons and guns, there are two components to combat. Before diving into the fantastic gunplay, it's worth noting that melee falls flat. To be brief, this style of combat feels relatively useless amongst the abundant ammo drops. You can hold your mouse button and charge a powerful attack that staggers foes and deals more damage. Conversely, clicking rapidly throws out several fast attacks that do less damage. It's just a shame how uninspired swinging a scythe really feels.
Players equip both a primary and secondary weapon. Primary weapons are typically more powerful guns, like beefy rifles and long-range snipers. My personal favorite was the Chicago Typewriter, a weapon which unleashes a hail of bullets. Secondary weapons deal less damage but provide more firepower when ammo runs low on your main gun, and are still a better alternative than melee. This might sound fairly basic, but combat truly opens up when players equip their weapons with mods.
Mods are useful, strong abilities that change your weapons both cosmetically and in combat. By equipping incendiary rounds on my Chicago Typewriter, I could let loose fiery bullets that set enemies ablaze. Other mods are even more interesting, like allowing the use of a healing aura or mods that shoot out swarms of insects and summon floating skull minions. The variety is great and players have plenty of options to choose from.
Thankfully, the gunplay feels so good in Remnant that it makes up for other shortcomings. Players receive significant feedback as enemies stagger and weapons tear them apart. Although many enemies in this shooter are bullet sponges in nature, it never feels like weapons are weak, as long as you upgrade them. Yes, you can upgrade weapons too and continually increase their damage as you progress, collecting materials from fallen enemies and containers around the world. Players even have armor sets with unique characteristics, although it is disappointing to say that armor seems very hard to come by.
This is also a challenging shooter, with enemies dealing high damage and unleashing specific attack patterns. Players dodge forwards, backward, and to the side which gives a few frames of invincibility. Players may also backstep to avoid attacks. Checkpoints litter the worlds of Remnant, which refill health and ammo but also respawn enemies. Players even have an item that works similar to Estus Flasks, granting a strong heal with a limited number of charges.
Last but not least, there are perks aplenty in Remnant. Dozens of perks are available to players, which unlock as you continue playing. These mostly consist of stat boosts like increased health, stamina, ranged damage, and more. Some become more complex, such as increasing weak spot damage or player revive speed. Truly, Remnant allows players to tailor their character as they see fit.
Bosses in Remnant: From the Ashes
With combat being as good as it is, it's a shame that Remnant's boss battles fall a bit flat. Their overall artistry on display is excellent, but the fights themselves feel off. The complex, creative designs of bosses lead players to believe an epic fight is at hand, but truthfully they just fall flat. Bosses act simply as repetitive, more difficult obstacles that grant little fulfillment in the long run.
Boss battles are initially promising. Throughout your run, you face quite a few and each has unique rewards like materials to craft weapons and mods. The abilities of bosses themselves feel quite limited. Each boss has around three unique attacks, which makes them predictable. The worst part about these fights are the minions they spawn. In every boss, you fight - and I mean every boss in Remnant - they spawn additional adds to pad out the fight. These battles unleash swarms of enemies after you several times throughout these fights, padding out the conflict and adding much frustration.
The philosophy behind this appears to be that more enemies mean more difficulty. It is harder to some extent, but it also makes every boss battle feel the same no matter what. From your first boss up to the last, those swarms of weaker enemies will run to their death in order to make these fights more burdensome. I wish bosses had several more unique moves and complicated patterns rather than relying on their lackeys to do the work. Removing these additional enemies would undeniably make fights easier, but also less interesting. I hope that should Remnant succeed and receives more content in the future, new bosses are more complex and less samey.
Worldbuilding in Remnant: From the Ashes
While boss fights remain a disappointment throughout the duration of your playthrough, they look aesthetically amazing. This is the case for the rest of Remnant, as well. It's a beautiful game, with vibrant colors and exceptional graphics. The first area of Remnant is the least interesting and most bland of them all. It's a post-apocalyptic, 1960s Earth taken over by an enemy called The Root. The Root is this infectious, plantlike growth that completely envelops our planet. Little Root enemies patrol the streets of our world, from small, bulbous axe midgets to hulking masses of bark and plant matter. These are great designs, and the first area isn't the best representation of what Remnant has to offer.
As players continue their journey, they visit several different planets, and Remnant's areas feature incredible detail and near-perfect design. As the levels stretched on, each new environment continued to impress, culminating in vistas that took my breath away. One, named Rhom, is a destroyed desert world with tribal-like enemies who thrive in primitive huts and wield strange, shaman magic. The ruins of an extremely advanced civilization dot the landscape, raising ominous questions
On Corsus, players fight through swamplike environments and strange villages filled with buglike foes. Many among the hordes appear to carry some sort of virus or infection. These enemies, in particular, left me so impressed in their design. The entire playthrough of Remnant past the first area will likely take you by surprise. These are worlds that brimming with subtle little books of lore and context clues. I hope that one day, we'll get to explore new worlds as well.
Although sparse, Remnant also features NPCs. These are interesting inhabitants of the world that are certainly not human, and provide insight into the cultures and areas around you. It's enjoyable to talk with them, as there are different dialogue prompts, allowing players to indulge in as much (or as little) lore as they wish. The story of Remnant still confuses me after beating it, but I hope that on subsequent runs of this very replayable game, I'll discover more and more.
Remnant: From the Ashes Review | Final Thoughts
I forgive most of Remnant's shortcomings. However, it is a cooperative game, so groups of up to three players can enjoy what Remnant has to offer. You have the ability to jump into ongoing runs or open yours to the public or play with your personal friends. The most puzzling omission is that there are no social elements to Remnant whatsoever. You cannot talk in-game, so there is no text or voice chat. Nor can you ping, use emotes, or anything else other than kicking or banning players. It's such a bizarre choice not to include social elements in such an inherently social game.
A lesser problem but no less infuriating is the scaling. The levels of enemies scale in favor of the higher leveled player. So, you cannot jump into a friend's party expecting them to have an easier time now that you're there to help. Of course, these are issues that are extremely fixable. I already know that Gunfire Games intends to add some sort of social element. At launch, however, know that there is no way to communicate other than an app such as Discord. Instances of miscommunication ruined some of my time with Remnant and tarnished the fun of running with a group of strangers.
Although there are several significant issues with Remnant, the gameplay was never dull. I have an extremely fun time running through the different worlds and exploring every nook and cranny it has to offer. The prospect of new guns and armor and continually improving my character assures that I'll keep coming back for more. It's my hope that Remnant takes off and becomes a popular game so that Gunfire continues to support this title with additional content. Moreover, it clearly succeeds in its attempt to consolidate a Soulsborne experience in a third-person shooter. With a few fixes here and there, Remnant: From the Ashes could become a quintessential co-op game.
TechRaptor reviewed Remnant: From the Ashes on PC via Steam using a copy provided by the publisher. It is also available on PS4 and Xbox One.
- Wonderful World Design
- Fantastic Gunplay
- Plenty of Build Customization
- Lackluster Melee Combat
- Predictable Boss Battles
- No Social Features