- Release date: December 7, 2018
- Engine: Unreal Engine
- Developer: Aurora44
- Genre: Action role-playing game
- Publishers: Microsoft Studios, Annapurna Pictures, Annapurna Interactive
- Platforms: Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Ashen ha proven to be a a hit with many great endorsements and reviews. I might be a little biased but any game with a Dark Soul’s like game play is worth trying out. It has a fallen-world feel, epic boss battles, and some interesting cooperative play. Unfortunately AButtonGames has yet to make a play through but this is on our list. Scroll down to see in-depth reviews and gameplay videos.
You are a lone wanderer in a sunless land. The only light to be had sputters from an age-old lantern at your side.
THERE IS A RUMBLE IN THE DISTANCE, AND THEN A LIGHT.
THROUGH LEAKING EYES YOU MAKE OUT A PEAK ON THE HORIZON,
CHOKING THE LAND IN A CLOUD OF ASH.
NOTHING EVER SHONE SO BRIGHT.
The first dawn turns to dusk and finally recedes into familiar blackness.
THIS IS THE TALE OF A BYGONE WORLD.
CHOOSE A PATH AND HOLD ON TO THOSE YOU TRUST
Ashen is a 3rd person, action RPG about forging relationships.
Players can choose to guide those they trust to their camp, encouraging them to rest at the fire and perhaps remain.ashen-game.com
Together, you might just stand a chance.
User Score: 6.0
PC Gamer – Rating: 85/100
Some people will argue the ‘Soulslike’ label needs to die. They’ll tell you it’s overused, hackneyed and that there are other catch-all terms to describe hybrid ARPGs, which don’t rely on comparison, even when it’s the best fit. I think these people are wrong. Ashen, a low-fantasy action role-player developed by A44 and published by Annapurna Interactive, closely echoes many of the ideas and systems found in From Software’s Dark Souls series. It knows exactly who its audience is, and, for all intents and purposes, is a Soulslike game. And it’s a bloody good one.
In place of Estus Flasks, for example, Ashen gives players sap-filled Crimson Gourds that deliver health boosts in limited supply. In the absence of Souls, Ashen trades in Scoria—a currency farmed from fallen enemies that helps facilitate progression. As is law in Miyazaki’s nightmare-scapes, accumulated Scoria is lost upon death, and can only be regained in your immediate next life. Likewise, resting at Ritual Stones replenishes vitality, à la Dark Souls bonfires, at the expense of reinstating fallen foes within the world. Ashen’s enemies are tough, its bosses are blockbuster, and its gorgeous handcrafted world is littered with ambiguous lore and odd but charming NPCs.
IGN – Rating: 8.5/10
Each boss fight is a daunting task that emphasizes uncovering weaknesses.STEVEN PETITE – https://www.ign.com/articles/2018/12/12/ashen-review
The tussle between light and darkness is clearly reflected in the world design. Quests send you from those idyllic locations to a frigid snow-covered area beset with a thin fog that’s filled with oversized spider monstrosities waiting to claw out from beneath the surface. Spirits screech in the darkness of caves, beckoning you to inch closer to their calls only so they can jump on top of you and beat the life from your body. The dim glow from your lantern can help guide your way in caves and the few labyrinth-style dungeons that lead to boss fights, but these moments provide stark reminders that this world is at a crossroads.
Your progress through the 20-hour story is shown by your camp, Vagrant’s Rest, which grows from a makeshift grouping of tents into a bustling community with homes, buildings, and plenty of folks anxiously awaiting the return of the Ashen god. The NPCs you recruit open up crafting stations to strengthen your weapons, increase your Crimson Gourd, craft talismans for stat buffs, brew potions, and more. It always brought me joy to see a new addition to a building or a fresh face after returning from a quest.
Those NPCs also help you on your journey, because one NPC actively and capably fights alongside you by default. But they might be real people, too, as sometimes your companions will be replaced at ritual stones by other players. With a competent AI and no identifying markers, or voice chat, it’s not always clear which is which until they start behaving in unexpected ways.
Gamestop – Rating: 90/100
Despite how you play, boss battles are where most of your deaths are probably going to come from, as each are five- to 15-minute affairs that push you to constantly adapt on the fly. No two bosses behave the same way, and many have a gimmick that can transform the fight. For example, one of the mid-game bosses is a staff-wielding giant woman who uses her magical lantern to deliver devastatingly powerful area-of-effect attacks and buff her health. If you put some distance between the two of you, you can bait her into throwing her lantern at you in frustration and then destroy it. Doing so allows you to carve out larger chunks of her health, but she goes into a violent frenzy and starts attacking you differently once her precious lantern is destroyed. It’s up to you whether or not you destroy the lantern, and when you’ll do it if you decide to do so.
In some cases, like this example, finding a boss’ gimmick makes the battle much easier, but it can also just change how it plays out–which is a wonderful thing for any fight you’re struggling with. Instead of feeling like you need to implement the same strategy over and over against every boss and just do it better, you’re occasionally rewarded for experimenting and trying something new. It helps dull any frustration that might arise from repeatedly losing to the same foe, too.
Ashen does more than enough to differentiate it from other Souls-like games. Although its combat utilizes the same stamina-focused mechanics, the inclusion of features that promote a sense of community with the game’s characters makes for a wholly different experience. It’s frustrating to spawn and see that your computer-controlled partner has a weapon that doesn’t complement the one you’re using. However, even when playing with NPCs, your allies’ efforts to assist you in battle cause you to care about the fates of the colorful cast of people you meet on your journey. The relationships you forge define your adventure through Ashen, and helping your new friends is a powerful motivator that drives you forward through the game’s beautiful world.