Remnant: From the Ashes finally arrives on the Nintendo Switch almost four years after the original but, in the nicest possible way, it can feel like an even older game. Remnant: From the Ashes is a somewhat unambitious yet methodical and entertaining experience that doesn’t try to mask its inspirations or muddy the waters – its novel feature is being an attempt at Dark-Souls-with-guns that actually works. The good news is this port is feature-complete and runs well enough; the bad news is there are caveats when playing on both big and small screens.
Given the pedigree of Gunfire Games, I was expecting an epic setting, high stakes, and larger-than-life characters. Those elements are accounted for, to a degree, and the premise is intriguing. However, storytelling can feel like an afterthought – something conceptualised and retrofitted late in development.
Remnant: From the Ashes kicks off on an alternate Earth, almost a hundred years after it was invaded by an aggressive tree-like species known as “The Root” in 1968. Military research into an ancient “World Stone” allowed for limited teleportation between fragments, while human “Dreamers” could connect with guardian creatures in parallel worlds. What humanity failed to realise was these connections were not just a window into those worlds but a doorway back to Earth.
There’s a ton of fascinating lore into the history of the “Dreamer” project and, once you begin travelling to other worlds, a healthy amount of world-building to flesh out alien histories and cultures. Of course, important NPCs have a habit of speaking in riddles, RNG encounters provide additional titbits of backstory, lengthy computer logs cover decades of Earth history, and items have pretentious Souls-inspired descriptions that are mostly meaningless.
Sadly, very little is done with all this extensive lore, even in the final Subject 2923 expansion. Cutscenes are kept to a minimum, NPCs only have a handful of lines and just direct you to kill the boss of a region, and few characters react to major changes. Stopping to slowly sift through computer logs and documents is antithetical to the gameplay pacing and nigh-on impossible in coop. The storytelling is good enough to push you forward but you’ll need to consult a wiki and play the Chronos: Before the Ashes prequel if you want to plug the many, many plotholes.
Gameplay is where Remnant: From the Ashes shines for me. I won’t deny it’s methodical and unambitious in design but, if you can endure a potentially rough start, it provides a ‘Souls-like thrill with little of the frustration.
Remnant: From the Ashes combines competent third-person shooting with ‘Souls-like progression, a procedurally-generated rogue-lite world structure, and a hint of Left 4 Dead‘s AI Director mechanic to keep you on your toes. Enemies hit hard and bosses harder, so defending choke points, coordinating fire to drop foes before they reach you, dodging attacks, and scrambling to make space are key to survival (and tied to a traditional stamina system).
Naturally, you’ve got limited healing options, ammunition considerations, powerful weapon mods operating on cooldown, crystal fragments that act as checkpoints, while death or resting respawns all the basic enemies. Despite the focus on firearms, it’ i’s a very traditional ‘Souls-like experience.
What makes Remnant: From the Ashes more replayable than many of its peers, though also potentially tough for solo players, is that each time you enter a new region or start a new Adventure Mode run, the world is seeded with a unique layout, optional dungeons and encounters, enemy and boss variations, and gear.
Although the world is built from large chunks you’ll soon recognise, it’s a design that ensures each location holds up for a few playthroughs when combined with a spawning system for special enemy variants that can quickly complicate battles. It also makes for a more satisfying experience if you’re running separate characters for offline and multiplayer modes.
On the downside, this randomness can make it rough for solo players that have super-specialised in close- or long-ranged combat. Boss fights already feel geared towards coop when most feature endlessly spawning minions, but they’re tougher still when you draw the short straw and stumble into one that perfectly counters your build.
The first mandatory boss fight is the perfect example of a potential roadblock as one option is entirely melee focussed, fought in tight spaces, and supported by exploding minions; the alternative is a teleporting archer, fought among open crisscrossing catwalks, and constantly buffered by a small army of bladed minions.
As someone with an increasingly low tolerance for frustration in games, I’d have walked away were it not for Remnant: From the Ashes’ best feature – you’re always improving your character and there are no penalties for death beyond getting sent back to the last checkpoint.
Any time you’re exploring an overworld map or dungeon, gear can be found in the environment or as a reward from seeded encounters; gaining experience, finding skill books, or defeating a boss provides skills points to invest in a slowly expanding repertoire of passive trait cards; abundant materials and scrap are used to upgrade gear levels that offer a tangible improvement.
Your character is persistent too and you can freely shift from your campaign to Adventure Mode, which seeds a compact version of any campaign world with a large overworld map, at least two dungeons, and two boss fights. You can switch between offline and online modes for coop support, or simply re-roll your current campaign world at different difficulties.
As a result, any run is likely to provide experience or skill points to boost a passive trait, enough material for a gear upgrade or two, and an easier time tackling whatever boss had you stumped. At no point in Remnant: From the Ashes does time invested ever feel like time wasted.
Unfortunately, while it’s feature-complete, runs well, and is reasonably priced, it’s hard to recommend Remnant: From the Ashes on Nintendo Switch without highlighting several caveats.
If you’re playing in handheld mode, standard Joy-Cons are awful for a game that demands quick reflex precision shooting – even with an aggressively snappy auto-aim. The experience was much improved when I switched to a Hori Split Pro gamepad, but it never feels as intuitive as it does with a traditional gamepad.
The alternative then is to play it docked with a gamepad but you’ll soon realise why the install size is only a quarter of the other platforms. On a small screen, Remnant: From the Ashes still looks great even if texture quality, particle effects, and lighting are scaled back. On a large display, it’s downright barren and ugly.
As a result, I’d recommend Remnant: From the Ashes if you’re playing in handheld mode and have invested (or plan to) in a decent third-party alternative to the Joy-Cons with better analogs. If you were planning to play on a big screen and have access to any other console or a PC, you should probably pick that version instead.
A review code for Remnant: From the Ashes was provided to gameblur by the publisher. Remnant: From the Ashes is also available on PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series/Xbox One consoles, and PC.
You can read our Remnant: From the Ashes retrospective or watch it below:
Remnant: From the Ashes (Switch) ReviewRemnant: From the Ashes (Switch) Review
- A feature-complete port with the core campaign, expansions, and replayable adventure mode
- The progression system that ensures you’re always growing stronger
- A solid co-op experience with friends and randoms
- It looks good on a small screen and performance is stable
- Still the only competent ‘Souls-like with guns
- The early solo experience often feels at the mercy of world seeding
- Too many cheap bosses that spawn endless minions
- Awful to play with the Joy-Cons
- It looks fugly when played on a big screen