Remnant: From the Ashes is landing on Switch, and while that is not quite as exciting as the Dead Space or Resident Evil 4 remakes, it's still a blast to play.
- Title: Remnant: From the Ashes
- Release Date: March 21, 2023 (Switch Version)
- Price: $39.99
- Suggested Audience Age: Rated M for Mature by the ESRB
- Availability: Switch (reviewed), Xbox, PlayStation, Steam, Epic
- Recommended for fans of: Third-Person Shooters, Cowboys, and the Post-Apocalypse
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
This is a good year for fans of third-person shooters. Both Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space have made waves with massive remakes on the beefy consoles, and now Remnant: From the Ashes aims to make a splash with a simple port to the Nintendo Switch.
I missed this game when it first came out, but have been having a blast playing it in a handheld format. For anyone else, like me, who has no idea what Remnant is, imagine a lot of RE4 stirred up with a little bit of Dark Souls and a weird lean towards randomization. Oh, and also, it runs amazingly well on the Switch!
Legally Distinct From Zombies
Remnant opens with a cutscene that rivals Elderand in complete inscrutability. You are a person on a boat trying to get to an island, all draped in what looks like it's going to be relatively medieval trappings… and then by the end of the tutorial, you're decked out in a duster and cowboy hat with a six-shooter and a shotgun.
The hub area in Remnant is a small community of folks who are barely scraping by in some sort of post-apocalyptic city. The town, or maybe island, or perhaps the whole world has been overrun by “The Root”, some sort of mind-controlling and body-altering organism that makes monsters, not zombies, and is tree-based, not fungal.
Honestly, the story in this game has blown right past me. There are the zombie-like monsters, of course, and then there are weapon mods that sure seem like spells you can cast, and big glowing crystals that act as checkpoints and let you teleport back and forth between the base and where you were last on your adventure. Along the way you… make progress? Somehow?
The loop of Remnants really works, even though I'm not sure what I'm doing. Each time I play I spend some time exploring an apocalyptic city full of monsters and not much else. Sure, there's lots of scrap to pick up, and once in a while even more valuable currencies, but mostly the city is just a monster-filled path between dungeons. Then, when you drop into a dungeon it's almost always the same grimy sewer full of monsters and not much else.
Some dungeons seem to take me to new parts of the city, while others just have a boss for me to fight. When I emerge victorious I get a call from base telling me I've done a great job, then I wonder some more.
I honestly have no idea what I'm doing, but between the map always telling me I'm moving on even though the environments have stayed static and picking up enough garbage that I can go back to base and make the numbers on my guns go up, there's an excellent sense of propulsion.
While the game hasn't really communicated this to me, I think that the world and dungeons are at least partially randomly generated. This isn't a roguelike (although there is a roguelike game mode alongside the campaign), but it sounds like the world is a bit different each time you go in to make both multiplayer and second play-throughs a bit more interesting.
I assume that at some point I'm going to save the world or whatever, but in the meantime Remnant‘s gameplay is shouldering the work of keeping me engaged.
I've been playing Remnant alongside both the Dead Space remake and the VR version of Resident Evil 4. The gunplay in this game definitely seems to draw from those games, as does the regular appearance of enemies both in front and behind you. Almost every encounter in this game has you facing enemies from both directions, even if you just walked out of a completely empty room. That's not a complaint, though, as it makes each encounter super intense. I do wish that there was some sort of on-screen indicator for when an enemy was behind you since playing this game on Switch means I'm not always tuned in to audio cues, but the core game design has highlighting enemies as an ability, so I can see why that wasn't included.
Speaking of abilities, you can customize your character build based on class, weapons, and weapon modifications. The start of the game has you choose one of three Archetypes, which gives you a set passive ability and a starting loadout. The classes basically seem to be geared towards engaging enemies at range, up close, or somewhere in the middle. Since the Switch version doesn't support cross-play with other platforms and I knew I was playing prerelease, I opted for the mid-range kit, thinking it'd be better suited to solo play. The passive ability for that set gives you a boost to weapon modifications, which has ended up serving me well.
In fact, so far I've basically kept my starting kit almost entirely intact. The primary weapon is a two-shot rifle that's fine, but the handgun it gave me feels absolutely fantastic. I put a mod on it that lets me drop a healing aura, and that's kept me alive through some pretty intense encounters. Get behind cover, drop the heal, pop out with the pea shooter, rinse, and repeat.
This is such a weird game to write about. I don't think that Remnant: From the Ashes succeeds at storytelling or level design, but the basic combat and the weird “cowboy in a modern post-apocalypse shooting tree zombies” aesthetic are both so fun that I keep picking it up to play. It may be the strength of the Switch as a handheld experience, but I find myself turning to this game more often than Dead Space right now. It's quick and easy to play, and I always feel like I'm making progress even if I'm not sure what I'm progressing towards.
Fans of this game will be delighted to know that it runs well on Switch, but it's a shame that, at least so far, there's no indication of either cross-play or cross-progression. For Switch owners who are feeling left out while the internet goes ga-ga over Dead Space and Resident Evil 4, this is a perfectly fine shooter to pick up.