In a world where every game is at some point inevitably compared to Dark Souls, it’s understandable why it took me this long to give Remnant: From the Ashes a try. “It’s Souls with guns!” people would say to me. I’ve slogged through enough Souls-likes that I need more than just the lure of the next bonfire and relentlessly punishing gameplay to win my attention. Thankfully, Gunfire Games manages to find a graceful balance between drawing inspiration from other games and improving upon the foundation they’ve already set.
Instead of drawing directly from From Software’s magnum opus, the developers of Remnant cherry-picked the best qualities from the series to adopt and discarded the rest. Gone are the endless corpse runs back from the last bonfire after dying over and over on the same boss. The UI is intuitive and jumping into a game with friends is as easy as pressing one button. There’s even a difficulty rating, a welcome addition to a genre that often misses the point about player experiences.
A pattern that quickly reveals itself is that Remnant owes just as much to Diablo 2, Borderlands, and similar loot pinata simulators than it does to the Souls series. Chests explode, showering you with crafting materials and ammo. Weapon mods and equipment are easy to mix and match at one’s leisure. Most obtainable items are shared with all players in your party, so there’s no downside to running around collecting everything in sight if that’s up your alley. With an aesthetic that leans closer to Fallout or Deadlands, it’s clear that Remnant borrows a lot from gaming royalty.
That being said, Remnant: From the Ashes is still very much a Souls-like. Players still dodge roll through enemy attacks, chop off dragons’ tails to craft fantastical weapons, and fight against overwhelming odds to their heart’s content. What is gone, however, is the frustration, alienation of new players, and a tanking frame rate. This game runs remarkably smooth and doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Instead of having long branching paths interwoven within one another, Remnant opts for the randomly generated approach. Players could have very similar experiences up until they encountered their first boss, for example. This along with the difficulty rating provide a lot of replay value for players who want to experience more than the main game has to offer or experiment with new gear and weapon mods combinations. For everyone else who just wants to enjoy a short and sweet romp through a dystopian wasteland, I was able to complete the main story in two or three vigorous gaming sessions.
If you are a fan of Dark Souls and similar titles, then you have probably already given this game a try. However, if you cringe at the idea of dying to hidden traps and wandering off aimlessly only to be eaten by a dragon, then don’t overlook Remnant just because it fits into the Souls-like mold. This might be the perfect introduction to the genre for new players period, both because of how similar to Dark Souls it is and how drastically different it is at the same time.