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Thread: Ashen

  1. #1
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands


    Ashen is a Role Playing Game, released in December 2018.
    Made by Aurora44 Games, from New Zealand.
    Available for PC Windows via the new Epic Store. And XBox.
    Steam and PS4 will be available later.

    Release trailer:

    The game has its own art-style. Very atmospheric. A bit gloomy.
    Gameplay has some elements taken from the Dark Souls games.
    That's why I posted a thread in this sub-forum.

    Some screen-shots:

    These last 2 screenshots were taken in a dungeon. Called The Seat of the Matriarch.
    It's dark. You don't know where you are going. There is no map. There is the constant threat of
    falling to your death. The jpg-compression kinda makes it hard to see in the screenshot,
    but when you look down, you see some lights and some structures far away.
    A really great dungeon.

    Game mechanics
    I've tried to keep this spoiler-free. But I do mention a few things that become available later in the game. In general the game starts very simple, and abilities and upgrades become available later, by doing quests and defeating bosses.

    When killing enemies and doing quests you earn "scoria". Scoria is a currency like souls in the Dark Souls games.
    When you die, you drop all your scoria. You will respawn at the last bonfire (called a RuneStone) that you visited. From there you can visit the location where you died, and pick up your lost scoria. When you die, or when you sit down at a RuneStone, all enemies will respawn. When you approach a RuneStone, but don't sit down, your health and estus flask refill. But the enemies won't respawn. If you leave an area/zone and come back (without sitting at a RuneStone) enemies will have respawned as well.

    For healing you will get an estus flask, called Crimson Gourd. You can upgrade your Crimson Gourd (more sips, more healing per sip) by doing quests for 2 NPCs. And then paying scoria for more upgrades. There are also other healing items, but they get ineffective quickly. You don't level up. You don't get to improve stats (like in the Souls games). In stead you will find white and black feathers, which will increase your health and stamina. Fighting is stamina based, like Dark Souls. Swinging your weapon, rolling and sprinting all drain your stamina.

    Gear comes as weapons (axes or maces), shield, or whole sets of armor. You can upgrade your weapon (with items and scoria). You can craft spears (like arrows in DS). Maces have extra stun, axes have more crit. Overall, the weapons have a lot less depth than in DS games. Armor consists of one item, so you will always look consistent. You can not upgrade armor or shields (except finding better ones).

    You wear 1 relic and 4 talismans. These give some play varity, like a build in Dark Souls. But much simpler. You equip and unequip these at an NPCs table, after doing a quest for her. Relics are visible (on your head) and you can see if they are activated and do something. E.g. while killing enemies, you will gain a damage bonus, or some extra damage mitigation. Talismans are invisible. They give things like extra health, extra stamina, or reduced stamina cost for attacks, longer sprinting, etc. So far I have played without a relic (halway the game), because I hadn't realized I could equip one already. You get your first relic after the 1st boss.

    Movement is better than Dark Souls games. Because you can climb on stuff like rocks, mountains, building, etc. Also when you dumb, and just missed the jump, your avatar will cling on to the ledge and pull itself up. Movement feels very natural. Movement during combat is a bit like Dark Souls. Either you roll like a monkey to avoid getting hit, or you use a shield. After defeating the 2nd boss, you can teleport between RuneStones (or rather: ride a Stilt Rider). After defeating the 3rd boss you get an ability that makes movement in the world even slightly better.

    You get guided through the gameworld by doing quests for NPCs. Differently from Dark Souls (or most other games), the NPCs will actually come with you to help you do the quests. Also inside dungeons. The NPCs have a lot of health, do a good amount of damage, and aren't too stupid. They are very helpful. When pulling a group of strong trash mobs, your NPC might get killed. But fighting 1 or 2 strong NPCs he can usually deal with them by herself/himself. The NPC can do (and does) a decent amount of tanking. It is better at tanking than you are. When the NPC does die, you can revive her/him. Similarly, when you get smacked down (you have no more health, aka you died), the NPC can revive you.

    When you play online (which is the default), your NPC can be controlled by another human player. You can not communicate directly. Your human companion appears as one of the known NPCs in your world. You will appear as an NPC in their world.

    Simple spreadsheet with stats of weapons are armor can be found here. From reddit.
    Last edited by Gryzemuis; 18th Dec 2018 at 07:46.

  2. #2
    Registered: Aug 2012
    Location: Taffing in a pub
    This actuality looks pretty good! I'll be keeping a keen eye on this one!

  3. #3
    Registered: May 2004
    Yeah, it's great!

    It's a simpler, shorter, more soothing and understated Dark Souls. With the added climbing and more forgiving jumping, the exploration and discovery may be even better in Ashen than it is in Dark Souls.

    It's also a grower; it gets better and better as you play. The first 90 minutes were a little slow for me... I think because it felt like such an obvious Souls-lite experience and because of its subtlety and understated sensibility. But the more you play the more it distinguishes itself from the Souls games and the more it establishes its own unique and compelling atmosphere and flavor.

    I've been meaning to write more about it here. Hopefully I'll find the time for it in the next couple of days.

  4. #4
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    It took me about a week to get to the last boss. Still a great game. A bit shorter than Dark Souls games. It took me ~40 hours to get to the end. (Note, I am a slow player). A bit easier than DS games too. Only 5 real bosses and 2 real dungeons. The dungeons were great. Especially the first dungeon, with the 3rd boss, The Seat of the Matriarch. Worthy of my time.

    The last boss sucks though. The run to get there takes 5-10 minutes. And the fight is just not fun. Not enough builds/gear/weapons/potions/strategy to find your own approach to kill the boss. In the 2nd phase, the boss can kill me from 100% health to 0% health in just a second. Not fun. The companion dies easily too. I got the heaviest armor, and a build with max damage mitigation, and I still get killed sometimes before I know what's happening. I watched a few movies on YT. Fight durations were 6 minutes, 8 min, 10 min, 20 min and one person even needed 30 minutes to kill the boss. The 2nd phase is all about backing off and waiting for that rare change of getting 1 hit in. Or kiting, kiting, kiting and running around a small pool. And thrown a few hundred spears at the boss. Nope, not gonna do that. Too bad, because it means I'm ending a great game with a negative memory.

    If you enjoy Dark Souls games, or any fantasy RPG that involves melee combat, I still recommend you play this. Most fun new game of this year.

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