×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Ashen’ Offers a ‘Dark Souls’-Like Game With More Fluid Mechanics

During its introduction at last year’s Xbox E3 press conference, developers Aurora44 explained that “Ashen,” their new action RPG, would feature a novel form of multiplayer: players would be completely anonymous in the realms of others, with no voice communication and no way to learn their identity. And once a partner died, they would vanish forever from the host’s world. It’s not a completely unique hook, exactly — it’s very similar to the co-op feature in 2012’s Journey — but it was just different enough to generate some conversation about “Ashen.”

At this year’s E3, however, “Ashen’s” most interesting feature isn’t actually present, which makes it hard to know just how much heavy lifting that multiplayer can do to set the game apart from a sea of games who owe a debt to From Software’s “Soulsborne” genre — consisting of “Demon’s Souls”, the “Dark Souls” games, and the PS4 exclusive “Bloodborne.” Because “Ashen” is, clearly, derived from the lineage, with its stamina based combat system, which in turn is driven by heavy and light attacks on the Xbox One controller’s shoulder buttons.

Still, multiplayer isn’t the only thing that “Ashen” does differently. This goes beyond the obvious, with “Ashen’s” stark, minimalist visual style, with faceless characters that look quite like wooden puppets (and which may be customized by the player when the game starts) wandering through a mysterious, foggily lit world. The demo at this year’s E3 seemed designed to introduce the most basic elements of “Ashen’s” gameplay, which revealed some mechanical elements that set it apart from its contemporaries.

While “Ashen’s” controls should be familiar to anyone with Soulsborne experience, it feels different in practice. The clunky, animation-favoring attacks and dodges of “Dark Souls” and its progeny, a style that makes almost any attack a full commitment. “Ashen,” on the other hand, feels looser in that way — attacks don’t feel like you’re signing a 30 year mortgage, and dodging feels like a fast, fluid way to flank opponents. Everything feels responsive, which is a funny thing to say in 2018, but it’s true, and it’s a compliment. This responsiveness is setting “Ashen” up to be a game that may be difficult, but hopefully won’t feel punitive.

Smoother controls and less animation priority led to enemies that felt markedly less dangerous than I expected. I was told that the challenge will ramp up considerably, especially if players choose to play solo, which I’m fine with, as long as there’s a clean ramp-up toward the more challenging areas.

This year’s demo also presented a world outside of the caves and dungeons that will still likely do the most to define “Ashen.” After meeting NPCs and completing their missions, I was given the ability to found a town, where those NPCs then set up show, allowing for new upgrades and more new tasks. It alleviated my concern that Ashen would feel as barren as the game’s limited palette might suggest.

Solid answers are coming soon. According to Aurora44, “Ashen” is scheduled for release some time in 2018 for Xbox One and PC.

More Gaming

  • jfk mooonshot ar app artwork

    JFK Presidential Library Releases Moon Landing Augmented Reality App

    The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library has released an augmented reality app (AR) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and the role President Kennedy played in getting the U.S. to the moon. The app, which is available for free for iPhones and Android, lets users relive the Apollo 11 mission in their [...]

  • 'Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the

    'Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch' Is Still a Fantastic Anime Adventure

    Six years after it’s original release “Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch” is coming back with a Nintendo Switch version and remastered edition on PS4 and PC. It’s time for more long-winded, adorable JRPG action. It’s odd since comparing the new version of the Level-5 developed classic with the original game is pointless [...]

  • ‘Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot’ Highlights The

    ‘Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot’ Highlights The Mundane Side of The Anime

    There have been dozens and dozens of games based on the popular anime “Dragon Ball Z.” While most focus on recreating the series’s electric fight scenes, very few have explored the more mundane and humorous aspects of the characters’ lives. Fortunately, “Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot” (releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2020) [...]

  • 'Empire of Sin' is a Bloody,

    'Empire of Sin' is a Bloody, Strategic Take on the Criminal Underworld of 1920s Chicago

    When Paradox Interactive and Romero Games announced their new strategy game, “Empire of Sin,” some fans may have been disappointed. They could have wanted another intensely violent and fast-paced game from John Romero, one of the original creators of “Doom.” They shouldn’t be though as ‘Empire of Sin’ is a deep, violent take on criminal [...]

  • 'Marvel's Avengers' is Crystal Dynamics' Indistinct

    'Marvel's Avengers' is Crystal Dynamics' Indistinct Take on a Comic Classic

    After 22 films in the leadup to “Avengers: Endgame,” the culmination of everything the Marvel Cinematic Universe built up towards, you’d think any other take on the classic team of superheroes would fall flat on its face. New faces would be eclipsed by the likes of Chris Evans’ perfect Captain America, Robert Downey Jr.’s dashing [...]

  • The Inner Machinations of John Wick's

    The Inner Machinations of John Wick's Mind

    Many games have you play as a character but very few let you inhabit their psyche. That’s the aim behind “John Wick Hex,” a strategy game that puts you inside the scenarios found by the titular movie character. And if a choreographed action sequence is nothing more than a combination of well thought out punches [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content