Remnant: From the Ashes is about to become one of the latest gaming sensations. It ticks all the right boxes and draws inspiration from several hit games to create an experience that feels unique, refreshing and clever. Remnant wears its influences on its sleeve, but it’s how every piece falls into place that makes it a resounding success. It almost sounds foolish to name the inspirations, but for the sake of context, let’s give it a shot.
The glaring comparison comes from Dark Souls, Remnant being a challenging game with some truly ingenious and difficult boss encounters. The Gears of War series also serves as inspiration for its solid controls and shooter mechanics, despite the absence of cover-shooting. Destiny is the name of the game where it comes to loot, but Warframe could also fit the bill nicely. The co-op component seems inspired by the likes of The Division 2, while the randomized world layout is based on the best dungeon crawlers such as Diablo 3. Hellgate: London admittedly served as the basis for the scalable AI difficulty, which adjusts according to your performance and the number of players in your squad.
There are some larger-than-life references thrown in there, so it’s a tough task for Remnant to live up to at least a couple of them. However, developer Gunfire Games tackled the challenge with striking confidence and a clear vision, and should feel proud of its achievement – Remnant is a fantastic game.
A World in Permanent Change
As you can safely assume from the above, Remnant won’t win any awards for originality. It’s a loot-driven shooter that takes pride in offering a challenge whilst providing refreshing changes to the world in case you feel stumped or just want to explore a different layout. According to the developers, your first playthrough will only show you about 45% of what the game has to offer, with subsequent playthroughs not guaranteed to provide the experiences that you missed.
We can testify to that; Remnant has many hidden quests, some of them with valuable loot as a reward. One of them was comprised of a tile-based puzzle where every misstep would spawn a tough group of enemies. When the correct path was finally triggered, a short underground section was unlocked, with a cool futuristic armor to craft and wear. This is a game where loot doesn’t equal junk; you’ll often have a tough time deciding which weapons and armor to use in your next mission.
Remnant boasts an impressive playtime. It’s a game that will last you for weeks, even months if you want to re-roll the world and try a different challenge with new loadouts. It’s advised to search every nook and cranny, explore every remote part of the map to get the best loot and level up your character – what’s more, you’re having fun while you do it. Believe me, you’ll need every help that you can get to fight the tough bosses that are eagerly expecting you.
Bosses are just a small cog in the machine that is the elaborate randomization process in Remnant. Every player will live an experience that may be different right up to the order in that the bosses appear. With over 20 very diverse bosses, both visually and mechanically, you must rise to the challenge if you want to progress in this world. Defeating a boss rewards you with plans to craft a new and powerful weapon, so there is always that incentive to strive for.
One of the factors to take into consideration is that friendly fire is a thing in Remnant. Shooting your colleagues drains 25% of the normal damage, but melee doesn’t do any damage whatsoever, thankfully. Before thinking that this is a negative, you should be reminded that friendly fire also works for the enemies, meaning that it’s not unusual to see a boss swipe two or three minions in a desperate bid to hit the players. Use this to your advantage as much as you can.
Remnant may be a loot-driven shooter at its core, but it has a lot more going for it. There is a noteworthy volume of lore supporting this intriguing world, with plenty of it hidden from sight. It’s another layer to a game that never ceases to surprise you, far from the shallow and emotionally devoid experiences that some of the high-profile games of the genre turn out to be.
The Ward 13 is the newfound headquarters for the resistance against the Root and the location where you go to rest and upgrade between missions. It’s here that you’ll find your brothers in arms Rigs, Ace, Reggie, and the grumpy McCabe, along with other characters of lesser importance. Contrary to initial assumptions, the Ward 13 isn’t a black and white HQ; it has many secrets to unlock, most of them requiring some sort of key or keycard to access.
Remnant is a co-op game that can be played solo. This is a complex topic, because the game was clearly designed to be played in a party of up to three players. This is the optimal way to enjoy the journey, taking gameplay to another level entirely. Discussing tactics with your friends and the best ways to swiftly dispatch the bosses is part of the fun, not to mention the better loot that you get in the process. Progress isn’t dispersed across single-player and multiplayer; instead, it’s all unified in a bid to keep players engaged and addicted, no matter what point they may be in the campaign. This is a clever system where new players get the help of veteran explorers, or you may end up joining the game of a fully leveled up player.
Playing solo is only advised for those who are seeking the highest challenge possible, along with a substantial dose of frustration. While the mobs may cause a few problems and hamper your progress here and there if you rush through the map, boss battles are another matter entirely. A solo player will always be targeted by the boss’ rage and won’t have the luxury of taking a breather. Within a party of two or three players, things are more balanced; one of the players mostly acts as the recipient of the boss’ attacks, leaving the others to flank and unleash hell and mods on him. It’s not that easy though, as mobs often spawn and turn out to be as deadly when they catch you off-guard.
It's Dangerous to Go Alone
Remnant offers a seemingly meager selection of three classes to begin with. However, this number isn’t that important because of the high degree of customization that you get along the way. The Hunter is a class leaning towards long range combat, while the Ex-Cultist is a mid-range unit with healing abilities. The Scrapper turned out to be my choice, using his heavy hammer or maul to deal high damage up close, while a fully automatic pistol and a sniper rifle made sure that every aspect was duly taken care of. So, you have two guns and a melee weapon to swap between, but the loadout also includes three armor parts (head, torso and legs) as well as slots for a necklace, ring and band.
Each weapon has a mod slot, and these are crucial to get you the upper hand in battle. Some of these mods boost your weapon, while others offer various buffs such as spawning a flying skull or healing teammates in the vicinity. Mods only work after using the respective weapon for a short while, so you can’t count with them from the get-go.
Each character has traits that boost his abilities. In fact, your trait rank may be described as the experience level in this game, for want of a better word. Every creature that you kill earns you experience points, awarding you one trait point as soon as it hits a certain threshold. During your adventure you will discover new traits, from your standard health and stamina, to more advanced things such as reload speed, gun spread and recoil, elemental resistance and many more. Your choices will allow for a unique build that could work wonders in a balanced squad.
Most enemies’ attacks include an additional effect that may prove far more dangerous than a simple hit. Bleeding is a big problem that must be swiftly solved with a bandage, but the coughing fits from an infection are scary as well because they interrupt your actions and leave you vulnerable. Being irradiated reduces stamina, and corrosion decreases your armor effectiveness. There are a few more effects that can only be solved with consumables or by resting at a crystal stone.
Remnant has solid RPG foundations supporting its sci-fi shooter trimmings. Your skill makes a world of difference but knowing how to adapt your character to your playstyle is vital. Crafting new weapons and armor will get you that extra edge, while upgrading your gear will keep you ready for the new challenges.
Your character feels weighty, as if it just graduated from the Gears of War/Resident Evil school of tank controls. There’s a clear punch to the weapons, one that feels just right, and the hefty swing of the hammer hits the spot. You feel every movement from your hero, with the right amount of feedback. Dodge rolls offer the same substantial weight, and this is something that you will spend most of the time doing, particularly during boss battles. It all comes down to timing, giving you that precious second of invulnerability as you try to escape from a messy situation or dodge a brutal attack. The stamina bar makes sure that you won’t abuse this mechanic.
Enjoyable in solo but ultimately frustrating, Remnant truly shines with a full 3-player party. This is where everything comes into place, from the vast regions to the combat mechanics. Most of the bosses are challenging in some way, but having a couple of skilled teammates turns it into a smoother experience. Ramp up the difficulty and you’ll find that Remnant hits Dark Souls levels of insanity, but everything about the game feels poised, cleverly designed and compelling.
Remnant is incredibly replayable and the search for better loot never feels boring. It may be due to the solid mechanics, or maybe it’s because of the world re-rolls that offer you a fresh experience every single time. There is always something to keep you on your toes, as you cautiously explore the detailed environments in search of a valuable loot chest, aware that the enemies may appear from anywhere. It’s a tremendously rewarding experience where every earned trait feels like a triumph.
Remnant also comes with a remarkable level of polish. Controls are tight, weapons are as punchy as they should be, and bugs are few and far between, mostly a few issues of enemy clipping.
“Innovative” isn’t the word that will be commonly used to describe Remnant. “Challenging” may be a fitting choice, or perhaps “addicting,” but innovative surely won’t be. That wasn’t the goal either; Remnant is a great melting pot of some of the best games ever created, producing a world that manages to feel unique in its design and lore.
Nonetheless, you’ll be hard press to mistake it for any of its inspirations either, unless you can’t tell your Destiny from your Warframe. Remnant has a distinct identity, one of a bold sci-fi epic featuring some truly clever ideas such as the world re-rolls and seamless progression.
Learning Curve: 8/10
Remnant doesn’t take long to learn, being more of a matter of getting to grips with the core mechanics and learning how to tackle each enemy. Crafting and upgrading is as easy as can be, while the controls never get in the way of the fun.
Graphics / Sound: 8.5/10
The beautiful worlds of Remnant have a strange aura to them. You’ll feel awestruck by the devastated Earth, fascinated by the mysterious deserts and the dangerous jungle, but it’s the neo-futuristic design of some towers and dungeons that impresses the most. The only area where the graphics could improve is the human character models, which look stiff and a few years behind the rest of the game. However, this is only an issue at Ward 13, since player characters always move around wearing superb helmets.
The bosses are fantastically designed. The unmistakable highlight of the game – without ignoring the brilliantly designed mobs –, they come in all shapes and sizes, featuring an impressive range and attack styles. If Remnant turned out to be a “mere” boss rush game like Shadow of the Colossus, it would have more than enough content to stand out on its own.
Voice acting in Remnant is above average, often great for some bosses who tend to be a little chatty. There isn’t much in the way of music as to not detract from the chaotic action, but what there is is fittingly somber and subtle. As for the sound effects, it’s pure bliss – weapons firing, teammates shouting “top off,” the whooshing sound of hammers, enemies shrieking and so on. You couldn’t ask for more.
Value for Money: 9/10
Remnant is a full-price game that is worth every dollar. If you are confident that you enjoy a hard challenge and can’t get enough of exploring cryptic worlds with a few partners, this is a game for weeks or months. There are many secrets to discover and bosses to fight in subsequent playthroughs, so it’s not like you are going to finish Remnant in a couple of sittings.
Remnant turned out to be an amazing achievement and a game that can proudly stand as a great Souls-like, despite having its own identity and focus. Everything about it works almost flawlessly, from its combat mechanics to the way that the procedurally generated world offers fresh trials without feeling hastily stitched together. If there is one challenge that you need this year, that challenge is fighting the Root in Remnant: From the Ashes.
Terrific 3-player co-op gameplay
Several amazing bosses
A challenge that doesn’t feel unfair
Persistent progression through single and multiplayer
Randomized worlds provide endless replayability
Great feel to the controls and the punchy weapons
More than enough quality loot without ruses
Playing solo quickly becomes frustrating
Joining online games may take you straight to the final boss, potentially ruining the surprise