Ashen is the new Soulsborne game on the block. So is it any good? Here’s what I think of my first 12 hours of Ashen.
I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to review Ashen this month so this is going to be my critique of what I’ve played so far. I’ve defeated 3 out of the 4 bosses and I’m really loving my time in the world of Ashen. I like how open it is, I love the combat, I really like the graphical style of the game, and I love that it’s like Dark Souls. This game is really good, but it does have some issues that’ll keep me from recommending it to anyone right now. Especially since it’s currently $40 on Epic’s shitty launcher. The main thing that separates this game from Dark Souls is that you can go through the entire game with an AI companion. Unfortunately, your companion is a walking idiot that rarely does anything useful. Some times they’ll stop running and just stand there for no reason at all. The only way to unlock boss dungeons is with your companion. I’ve seen my companion, on multiple occasions, stand right next to me while I attempt to open the dungeon door leading underground and do nothing. A patch needs to fix this because this is an issue that has prevented me from progressing in the main story. It can be considered a game breaking bug.
Since I’m on the topic of what I don’t like about this game I’ll list all of my issues before I get to what I do love about the game. I don’t like the fact that there’s only TWO different weapons to use in this game. That is unacceptable in a game like this and I don’t buy the excuse the devs gave for leaving swords out of the game. There are no polearms, daggers, swords, bows, etc. You can only use maces, axes, and throwing spears. Saying that it doesn’t fit the lore of the world is bullshit because you have bosses that use polearms and there are regular enemies that can dual wield weapons. So why can’t we? The build variety in this game is nonexistent and that really hurts the replay value for me. The currency that you collect (basically souls) is used for everything. Buying items, upgrading your gear, and inserting runes into your artifact slots for passive bonuses. I… didn’t bother messing around with the artifacts much because the game isn’t very hard to begin with and I never felt like I needed to act artifacts over the basic health and stamina boost that I already had equipped to me.
You probably think I hate this game after all of that up there. I don’t. Like I mentioned above I do like the gameplay, open world, and graphics. The graphics are borrowed from Absolver. This game is like a Dark Souls and Absolver had a baby and Ashen was born and there’s nothing wrong with that because Absolver is one good looking game. The gameplay is very slow paced. This is one of the reasons why I think there should be lighter weapons like swords, or at the very least a dagger, to speed things up a little. You wait for an opening to attack, like you would in Dark Souls, and try your best not to die. I love exploring the world around me and I love that exploring is actually rewarding in this game. I can’t tell you how important loot is in a game like this. Yes, everything will either be a mace, axe, or throwing spear, but I was still happy to find stuff hidden in the world. If you search really well you’ll find these special feathers that grant you a permanent health or stamina boost. It’s nothing major, but they add up if you find enough of them. Exploring underground is the best part of this game. It’s dark, creepy, and the enemies you’ll find there are much more dangerous than everything you’ll fight above ground. The platforming is great because I can actually climb up ledges and pull myself up to higher ground and I love trying, and failing, to jump across gaps. This game does a lot of really good things and it can only get better if the developers decide to make a sequel or not.
My Final Thoughts:
Ashen has the potential to be a really great game series. The developers can expand the amount of options available to us, work on that god awful companion AI, and expand the lore on this interesting game that Aurora44 has created for us to get lost in. As it stands Ashen is a really good game, but the issues I have with it right now prevent it from being a great one. There’s only 4 boss fights and I only enjoyed one of them so far. I enjoyed getting lost in this game and I can’t wait to finish my current playthrough. Ashen isn’t the best game that’s mimicked Dark Souls in recent years, but it is scratching that Dark Souls itch I’ve been having lately and I’m really enjoying it right now. There’s not many games I would place over Ashen in the Soulsborne genre.
Have you played Ashen? What do you think of it? Are you getting any of the stupid AI problems that I am?