An Average Journey Through Distant Lands
The 2010’s brought a surge of third-person action titles, most notably genre’d behind the footprints of Demon Souls, and its more acclaimed successor, Dark Souls. Millions of players latched to the relentless but fair difficulty, the deep, sunken lore, and the mysterious aura that oozed around every corner; a cultural hit that would be looked upon by several future titles from several developers. Near the end of the decade, the industry witnessed a slow, gradual shift from the benefited norm of the “Soulsborne” genre, with games that still leaned upon the tried and true moniker of the titles before it, but left enough room to add a original punch to its arsenal.
So when some studio exec twiddled his pen and blurted out, “Why not make a Dark Souls-esque title, with a splash of Diablo, but incorporate guns as the main beneficiary of damage?” Herein lies the stepping stones to the third-person-action-shooter, Remnant: From the Ashes. The Perfect World published title sets the stage with a character created main protagonist, which has a decent variation of options to make a familiar, yet specific character to the player’s liking. Our protagonist is seen afloat a small raft, traversing their way through the war-torn sections of Earth, which has been engaged with an alien force known as The Root. The Root had turned Earth into what Pride Rock looked like in the back half of The Lion King, and humankind had been dwindled to various bases, dubbed Wards. These Wards house the remaining civilization that’s able to fight the hordes of enemies, and working together to find an end to The Root and save their now dilapidated planet.
After a particularly bad dust-up against their newly crowned foes, our protagonist is resuscitated and stationed in Ward 13, which stands as the main world hub. Here will be your access to items, upgrades, and little chunks of back-story. After getting acclimated with the Ward, the Commander of the Ward will assign them their duties, for no one stays in Ward 13 without pulling their weight. The task? Find the source of The Root, crossing multiple worlds and dimensions to do so, and remove The Root from Earth. And how does one remove The Root? With gunplay. Lots of gunplay.
Push forward to Remnant‘s bread and butter: that crisp, dialed in gameplay. Remnant‘s fingertips are coated with the proverbial Cheeto dust of Dark Souls: enemies are built to hit like freight trains, so you’re forced to respect their space, and learn to dodge and battle accordingly. To combat those enemies, characters are outfitted with a main, sub, and a melee weapon. Main weapons are the heavy hitters: ranging from sniper rifles, to shotguns, to beam rifles. Sub weapons are the trusty side-pieces: pistols, sub-machine guns, and revolvers. Melee weapons come in all shapes and sizes, with large hammers, scythes, claws, and machetes to name a few. These weapons can be upgraded with Scrap, Remnant‘s base currency, and various irons found throughout the worlds. While there are a decent array of weaponry, with almost 40 in total to choose from, some weapons felt more powerful in comparison to others, which dwindled the real use of variety throughout my ever growing arsenal. While going through most of the campaign, my co-op partner and myself found the starting weapons for our class set firmly in hand, giving the new weapons a go for a little while, but ultimately realizing what we had was good enough, even over some of the unlockable boss weapons later on in the game.
Remnant‘s campaign runs a tight 15-20 hours, with four locations to traverse. These worlds span a desolate and dilapidated Earth, the war-torn nuclear wasteland of Rhom, to the lush, claustrophobic jungles of Yaesha, and the untouched duality of Corsus. Each of the world’s harbor around 10 side-dungeons, with near 40 dungeons to traverse and explore. These dungeons will have varying objectives throughout, but will feel very same-y in execution: remove area of said inhabitants, then meet the true reason for your character’s attendance at the end. Dungeons, which started to repeat formations and visual likenesses by the 3rd-4th dungeon in each world, are coated with key ideas that will look blatantly familiar: like how checkpoints refresh common enemies in the area, and boss rooms are shrouded behind a matching wall of fog.
But I’ll give credit where it’s due, the boss fights in Remnant are the most entertaining pieces the game has to offer. The sub-bosses, which serve up as beefier versions of common enemies, are fun to tackle, even if they are a bit repetitive in nature. Most sub-bosses will have similar move sets to their common counterparts, and all of them seem to bask in added difficulty through a stampede of smaller enemies clogging your attention. The more intricate boss fights, alongside the campaign-centric bosses, really bask with a much needed breath of fresh air. Larger than life Ents, Hydra-like splitting monstrosities, and a towering Sun Wukong-esque giant provide enjoyable, yet daunting hurdles against your character.