I’ve been playing the indie shooter Remnant: From the Ashes on the PS4 on-and-off for the past few weeks with Patrick over at RPGaymer (Coincidentally you should follow him on twitch at twitch.tv/HeyRPGaymer). The game was one of PlayStation’s free games with PS Plus back in March, which brought a large batch of new players to the 2019 game. With online support for up to three players, Remnant was a pleasant surprise.
At its core, Remnant is a third person shooter. Looking over the shoulder of your character you’ll gun down foes, use abilities, and basically try not to die. But dying is kind of the name of the game: each enemy encounter is dangerous, and even the simplest of foes can topple your part if you don’t act quick and efficiently. It was pitched to me as a Dark Souls like game, but I don’t know if I would take the difficulty that far. It’s challenging, for sure, but I feel it’s a bit easier to overcome enemies (at least so far in the early game) than it has been in the Souls games.
The story involves the player’s taking down the Root, an evil space entity that has devastated Earth. As you explore the ruins of the planet, you run into the survivors holed up in Ward 13. With their aid you start exploring all kinds of alternate dimensions affected by the Root. It’s not long into the journey you discover some crucial clues to help you overcome the extraterrestrial foe. But it isn’t easy.
Remnant is unforgiving in its approach to combat. Enemies will come at you from multiple directions. Oftentimes they will implore tactics that can catch you off guard, such as running in close and exploding, shooting devastating gas bombs from a distance, and even cleverly hiding behind cover. The dynamic nature of these battles creates a necessity to strategize instead of running in guns blazing. I feel like this is where the “Souls-like” idea comes from. If you’re not careful, and especially so in boss battles, one hit can put you out of your misery. If you are a fan of games that reward proper planning and approach to combat, this game is right up your alley.
Character progression is your standard RPG affair: you’ll collect experience as you defeat enemies and complete quests, which will reward you with ability points. These points can be used to permanently increase your character’s health or stamina, increase their reloading speed, or give some bonuses to you and your allies when you’re in close proximity to one another. Many of these abilities unlock as you progress through the story or perform certain actions. I really liked this approach to character development: It helps to create a sense of personalization to your character. You made them do these things so they developed this way, instead of having them go down a skill tree to find new abilities.
Cooperative play is where this game really shines. You can have three players band together to take on the Root. Doing so ups the difficulty if you were just playing solo, but also lets you reap better loot rewards. Aside from ammunition, you and your partners share all loot: consumable items, currency, and upgrade materials. This method allows the game to stay focused on the action rather than having you and your comrades compete with one another to pick up everything in the midst of battle. Patrick and I oftentimes would explore some abandoned buildings or branching underground paths on our own, and then call out to the other when we needed them for backup to defeat some enemies. We would call out ammo locations, and in general worked together to achieve our mutual goals. Stressful sometimes, yes, but overall a fun and rewarding experience.
Remnant isn’t without some faults. My biggest complaint with the game, at least so far, is the enemy variety. I’ve been blasting away at the same types of enemies in small groups time and again. I would like to see more variety brought up, which I know can happen as it occasionally pops up in the game when it throws a more difficult enemy type our way in a place they weren’t before. Think of it kind of like the gameplay in Left 4 Dead: the mindless shooting of normal infected were dotted with more engaging battles with the special infected and tanks, and then were bookended with large scale cinematic battles. I want to see more of this, especially if we are going to replay levels to grind out materials and gear.
Honestly though, Remnant has been a pleasant surprise. The game was free about a month back on Playstation Network for PS Plus subscribers, and it was definitely a worthy game. Co-op shooters are easy to come by nowadays, but a quality shooter is a different story. This game offers enough of a unique experience for me to recommend to anyone looking for a more concentrated effort to a loot-based shooter than, say, a Borderlands game would require. Better yet if you have a couple of friends you can play with!