Reviews - Updated on April 10, 2022

Announced back in 2015, Ashen, which recently became an exclusive (hopefully temporary) of the newly opened Epic Games Store, is now on sale there for 1,849 rubles. It would seem that on this bench you can close and write nothing further. Because few of us will pay that kind of money for the creation of an independent studio, which, judging purely by the screenshots, looks like another Dark Souls clone, only with strange graphics and characters without a face. Therefore, some immediately dubbed Ashen “Dark Souls for the poor.”

However, I still want to write. Because in fact, the game is quite worthy of you to try it – at least when the price of it drops.

I’ve seen this somewhere before…

It cannot be said that Ashen is completely a clone of Dark Souls (in this case, the third part). This is a more traditional RPG – with some mechanics peeped from From Software, but at the same time with its own characteristics, style and atmosphere.

What is peeped lies on the surface – the enemies here are strong, in fights you need to monitor stamina, put a block in time or dodge. You can save only at special ritual and waystones, which also restore health and replenish supplies of Crimson Gorlyanka – this is a local analogue of Estus, that is, a multiply charged first-aid kit.

If you sit down and activate the waystone, then the enemies in the location will respawn, and you will be able to beat the souls out of them again. They serve as both experience that can be spent on upgrading weapons or pumping the same Crimson Gorlyanka, and coins for which merchants sell various useful consumables and materials. As you understand, if you are killed, the entire supply of souls will be lost, and you will have to return to your own grave in order to return what you have acquired by overwork.

There is also an analogue of the Temple of Fire – the bases where we return to trade, turn in quests, improve something, and so on. The characters we met in the world also move there, who then begin to offer their services, again trade something, make spears, make magical talismans, and so on.

The action at the same time takes place in a rather gloomy world that survived the catastrophe, and the plot, roughly speaking, is built around protecting the light from darkness, finding a new home and collecting parts of the next Very Important Artifact.

Ashen game review

“Bosses” here are unique in their own way.

The bearable lightness of being

It would seem that the diagnosis has been made. However, Ashen differs from Dark Souls in its “lightness”, lightness, although I would say – humanity and a more traditional approach. First and most importantly, here you do not suffer from enemies at every turn. Yes, they are strong, but a partner always comes to the rescue, which will be controlled either by AI or by another player met in the local spaces if you went online. I didn’t have a chance to run with a person, but the computer partners were very strong (except sometimes they were stupid). In addition, such a comrade can revive you who fell in battle – well, or you him.

And even alone, it’s really possible to deal with opponents much faster than in any Dark Souls. No, this does not mean that the game is primitive in terms of combat. You still can’t relax, because they can beat you here in a couple of seconds. Therefore, you need to put blocks, dodge, try different types of weapons (and there are many), each of which hits in its own way and at different speeds. Yes, and the “bosses” are quite individual, insidious and strong.

It would be more accurate to say this: Ashen is not more primitive, but more humane and familiar just like an action / RPG in the spirit of Gothic, for example. You kill several enemies here in a maximum of a minute, and “bosses” – in 15 minutes. And not from the tenth time, but from the second or third. It happens from the first.

In addition, after some time, it becomes possible to quickly move between the ritual stones on your own riding dragon (!), As well as between the figures of special luminous monks (the so-called “shadow copies” are used for this). Given that there are a lot of such points, all this, coupled with less hardcore battles, makes exploring the world not only too easy and simple, but more dynamic, in the spirit of traditional action/RPGs.

Ashen game review

The picture in the game is very often gray, but this is explained by the setting.

Yes, and the plot in Ashen is presented in a more classical way, that is, more clearly and again more dynamically. And there are a lot of side quests around, only by completing which you can pump the basic characteristics of health and vigor (as they call “stamina” here) – that is, the game is deliberately built not so much around battles and “bosses”, but around tasks.

Wonderful, strange, interesting world

The main thing is that you really want to explore the world. Yes, it is generally gloomy, decadent, but in fact there are enough shades and colors. Absolutely amazing architecture and design. And a lot of secrets. There are not only caves and ancient temples, but also rivers, picturesque meadows and waterfalls. And after some time, this can be replaced by some kind of semi-desert, dotted with black ruins, where ash storms blow so that nothing is visible. However, looking back, you can see the huge skull of some monster. Tower? Or just such ancient remains? But clearly there is something interesting. In another five minutes, at the top of the hill, you will see a huge fish slowly flying across the sky. A conversation with one of the local goddesses, whose braids take up almost the entire screen, is also included in the entertainment program.

Despite the fight between light and darkness and the search for another artifact, the setting itself in Ashen is quite interesting, with a twist. Say, there was a divine bird that carried light to all worlds. And, dying, with her three dying breaths, she gave birth to three eras: darkness, titans and humanity. And now she has risen as an ashen chick to bring back the light. And we, together with the surviving titans, must protect it from the servants of darkness.

All this is captivating and intriguing. Moreover, marks are constantly flashing everywhere, indicating that something valuable is clearly lying on that stone or on that ladder, where it is still not clear how to climb. And you really want to get in and get it. Yes, it’s not easy to navigate how to get somewhere, you have to look for workarounds, jump, helping each other with a partner. The passage to some locations (despite the fact that the world itself is open here) is closed until some important tasks are completed. But this only raises the degree of interest.

Finally, the authors were able to realize the idea of ​​developing and growing before your eyes their own settlement, and then the city. Yes, the player’s base is “leaked” from the Temple of Fire, but with each NPC who arrives here, it really becomes larger, comes to life. You see new scaffolding, where some people are doing something, knocking with hammers, then a forge appears there, a new house, a new weather vane – everything works to make your camp come to life and turn into a full-fledged settlement.

Everyone who saw it, a cry was born in their souls!

***

Ashen is not “Dark Souls for the poor”. It’s more like Dark Souls for those who have always wanted to try the creations of From Software, but were afraid of all this darkness, torment, sadomasochism and hardcore. Here you get a more dynamic, light and familiar action / RPG, flavored with soul-like elements. Moreover, this is not just a simulator for “noobs” before plunging into real hell, but a full-fledged, unique thing in its own way with a bunch of advantages and only a couple of drawbacks.

Pros: addictive gameplay; a large, interesting and elegantly drawn world; a settlement developing before our eyes; cooperative; memorable location design; stylish picture; atmospheric music; Russian localization.

Cons: sometimes the AI ​​partner stands on the sidelines while you are being hit; animation and jumping are imperfect; you can get stuck somewhere; there are unfounded “friezes”.

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