Earth has been devastated by an inter-dimensional parasite known as “The Root”. After finding your way to Ward 13, home to a few human survivors, you are tasked with finding their leader, Ford. To do so leads you through various procedurally generated worlds, where each run through the campaign can be quite a bit different than the last. This is a third-person souls-inspired shooter and it is available on Game Pass for Console and PC. You can play with up to two friends at a time, and it just got an enhancement patch for the Xbox Series consoles. Let us take a look at 2019’s Remnant: From the Ashes.
The Opposite of a Power Fantasy
Not too long ago I reviewed a third-person shooter that had 3 player co-op called Outriders. That game could not be more different from Remnant. Instead of being a brash and cocky power fantasy this one takes its inspiration from Dark Souls, Lovecraft, and making you feel close to death no matter how full your health meter is. Remnant is punishing, and before the 60 frames per second mode were added in for next-gen it could also feel quite sluggish. Everything is deliberate, from your movements to your constant lack of ammo for the game’s various weapons. You have a melee slot and two ranged, a side-arm and a long rifle.
Armor consists of Head, Upper, and Lower Torso, Medallion, and two ring slots. There is a light crafting system tied to items bosses drop, along with an upgrade system tied to the various types of metals you can find in the game world. The leveling system consists of an eventually massive skill tree which allows you to put points into basic stat boosts for nearly everything you do in the game. It’s a simple but deep enough system to keep you thoroughly engaged as you traverse the game’s deadly environments, and it rarely slows you down during cooperative play.
Dreary Browns and Muddled Greens as You Kill a Bunch of Wood
Those environments consist of four different biomes, with DLC adding in more if you’re willing to pay. Graphically the game is ok looking, animations are well done, character models are basic for the humanoids and disturbing for the root-infested enemies, and the framerate in the 60fps mode feels rock solid. It is not a looker, but the art direction invokes a sense of misery and horror that matches the game’s tone and music in a way I appreciated. This works in service of a punishing but fair combat system. You have four item slots tied to the d-pad which can be used for healing, getting buffs for your character, fighting off area specific maladies, or replenishing your ammo on the go.
You have an initial choice of three load-outs to start, but you can quickly earn the armor and weapons of the other two if you find you don’t like what you started with. As you start the campaign your course is laid out through a procedurally generated system. The story and locations are always the same, but what each contains side quest and boss choice wise is different every run. After my third time through the campaign, I did see a bit of repetition but not enough that it soured things for me. As you kill each boss they will drop an item that you can use to craft a new weapon, and certain armor types must be found and earned in-game with certain runs offering up access to specific things. Movement is slow-paced with a short stamina meter to start. The shooting feels good, far better at 60 fps than 30, though the melee generally feels far less impactful. Weapon variety is excellent, though it can be hard to use most of what you have as you need large amounts of in-game metals and other various drops to upgrade them. Attempting to use under-leveled weapons or gear (in comparison to your best items) will lead to far too low damage output and opening yourself up to death from only a few hits.
Live, Die, Repeat.
Remnant uses a checkpoint system directly out of the Souls series. You must manually activate it to save or travel and doing so will respawn every enemy in the area that you may have already killed. Death will come often, though at first things weren’t too rough. This game can be enjoyed solo but like most, it is far better in co-op. Loot is per person, so you don’t have to worry about sharing or losing out on things, and the connection always felt stable when I played with my wife and brother.
If you have the patience for it this can be a solid solo experience. It will test you though as many areas can take 20 or 30 minutes to clear on the higher difficulties where you can die in a second or two of attacks if you get caught off-guard. Thankfully, boss encounters give you a checkpoint before the blatantly ripped off Souls fog wall to enter the arena, which greatly reduces the frustration.
I purchased Remnant for $40 when it was new, and I really enjoyed it. It’s tough, a bit slow, and kinda ugly; but now that it is on Game Pass for both Console and PC it’s an easy recommendation for anyone looking to murder a bunch of creepy-looking monsters either alone or with their friends.