You probably hadn't heard of Remnant: From the Ashes before this week. A horror-infused multiplayer game from Gunfire Games and Perfect World, it's somehow taken several genres and combined them into compelling mash-up that's quickly getting the attention of folks who dig a good Souls-like game.
Of course, as with many other cases, describing Remnant as "Souls-like" is a little reductive. While it uses a checkpoint system similar to the From Software series, Remnant feels more akin to games like Warframe, or even Resident Evil 4. You play one of humanity's survivors after a monstrous infestation called the Root has taken the planet. It's heavily implied you'll be the one to fix everything, but you'll have to dredge through the abandoned streets and haunting depths surrounding one of humankind's last bastions, Ward 13, in order to do so.
Armed with two guns of your choosing and a melee weapon for when things get dicey, the combat of Remnant is brutally quick and merciless. Even against the early enemies, before any variety is introduced, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Going "loud" means stirring up any nearby Root, but melee puts you right where the enemy wants you. Eventually, you won't have much choice, and you'll have to dodge and shoot your way through hordes of Root, fighting your way to giant bosses and checkpoints.
While there is a progression, the areas are procedurally generated, meaning each layout is a little different for each playthrough. Users are boasting about ten hours for a run, but the appeal seems to be finding the various bosses and challenges that lie within the variation. It's also co-op for up to three players, so you can face the Root together and experience your own little campaign.
Over at Waypoint, writer Matthew Gault dove into how this procedural generation, combined with multiplayer, makes for such a compelling addition to the wheelbarrow's worth of Souls-likes out there:
"In my friend's world, I encountered a tree that blessed me with an armor bonus I could level up as I played. At the end of the first level, we fought a hulking monster who crashed through walls and summoned waves of exploding gas-filled monsters. Back in my own world, the mystical tree was gone and the level's boss-a shrouded archer-stalked me through the sewers leading up to the final encounter."
User reviews on Steam are praising it as well, with one saying it's "Dark Souls meets Monster Hunter meets Fallout. This is what Hellgate: London *could* have been." Reddit users seem enthusiastic as well, with one saying it's one their games of the year behind From Software's Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. It's also already hit 20,000 players on Steam.
Some are citing its current lack of endgame content, though Gunfire Games said in a launch live stream that more content was on the way. That's not to say it's without its faults; some bosses need some fine tuning, and in my own time with the game, I found the monster audio to be a little off. Though I haven't seen it all the way through yet, some are saying the actual narrative of the story leaves a little to be desired as well, though folks are already starting to dig into the ambient lore of the world to try and find hidden history to make up for it.
What Remnant: From the Ashes does is something I've yet to see other developers manage. The procedural generation is fairly impressive. If you told me the city block I've been slaying Root in was hand-designed, I would've believed you. Instead, there's massive room for each player to define their own world, and then explore those of others. It's a smart way of keeping a lighter Souls experience fresh, and also seems set to make Remnant: From the Ashes one of the sleeper hits to watch this year.