PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Shredding through packs of monsters and elite enemies through swamps, deserts, and technologically advanced hallways is what drives Remnant: From The Ashes, and the progression loop is alluring. Whether you enjoy the satisfying burst-pop from a single-shot pistol or the steady damage from a beam rifle, Remnant gives you myriad options. Since each iteration of the world is generated from a different seed, procedural pieces snap together to create encounters and unlocks your friends may not see, making your first run fresh, mysterious, and inviting.
Starting off in a version of fallen Earth, the player must restore a fantastical and futuristic world. While the combat system in Remnant is a compelling beast all its own, much of the structure and framework in the title taps into From Software’s iconic Souls franchise, from critically timed dodge rolls to limited-use health items, checkpoints, fog-gated boss arenas, and boss drops to unlock new gear options.
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Upgrading your equipment, traits, and active abilities is satisfying; I fell in love with a critical-focused build that increased crit damage along with tools to create a consistent barrage of critical hits. The first few times you face a boss and master their tactics are great, but too many use the “Well, here’s a big guy and lots of little guys” concept. Plus, none of the bosses are especially memorable, save for one errant bridge foe that may be a sly hat tip to Dark Souls’ Moonlight Butterfly.
The first trek through the world is the best and the most challenging, but Remnant is built for multiple playthroughs, enticing players to seek things they missed the first time around. Area after area, gun after gun, and boss after boss, your options continue to expand as you advance. Each playthrough’s seed comes with plenty of secret areas and a smattering of bosses, but you can’t do it all solo in one run. Instead, you’re encouraged to join other players to find additional bosses and special areas. You can always reroll the campaign over and over to find them on your own, but the game is substantially better with a little jolly cooperation.
However, the addictive nature of the title falls off hard after a couple runs; while there may be some secrets left to unearth, you just don’t have the incentive or drive to do so. After you understand the world’s rules and layouts, subsequent runs only take a few hours. The mystery of what’s to come next gets handily demystified as you realize that Remnant has only a handful of potential boss fights in any given biome, and relatively few decisions to make.
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Players pump points into traits, upgrade gear, and flesh out a bare-bones story hub that provides a marginal sense civilization’s fall and potential revival. Remnant delivers its story in conversations with random denizens and notebooks stuffed with lore. I’m a fan of this approach; the tale is out there if you want it, but it’s also completely skippable if you just want to cut deep into the meat.
Strong systems and a satisfying gameplay loop give Remnant: From The Ashes a powerful foundation, even if the experience is mired by repetitive and uninteresting bosses and environments. The first 10 hours are challenging and intriguing, leaving you voracious for more loot, more bosses, and more traits. After that, some of the wonder vanishes as you relive past glories rather than continuing to forge new ones.
Summary: Strong systems and a satisfying gameplay loop give Remnant: From The Ashes a powerful foundation, even if the experience is mired by repetitive and uninteresting bosses.
Concept: Take on big bosses, level up, and loot in a fallen reality
Graphics: Some armor sets and weapons look great, but many of the models and environments are uninspired
Sound: Repetitive chirps and generic sound effects do little to suck the player in
Playability: Mastering gunplay and defensive tactics is critical and could be overwhelming for those not prepared for a fierce threats
Entertainment: Gobs of lackluster bosses and lack of any real endgame experience drag down a whimsical world full of secrets, challenges, and fun customization
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