Darker than Dark Souls
In a world that has no sun, all the light there is comes from a single mountain, and the rest of the globe is covered in an inky blackness filled with terrible creatures and ancient gods. You are one of the few looking to spread that light and find a permanent home, but you’ll have to explore the dark to find it, and contend with all the monsters you find along the way. As you probe further, the world gets darker and the creatures tougher, and all you have is a little lantern to light your way. It’s dark, moody, and reminds us a lot of DarkSouls, with combat that’s all about dodging, experimenting, and learning through failure to push further in. There’s even passive multiplayer where people wander the same world with you, going about their own business, and who can choose to help you if they wish, all without a single word being shared between you. “I think that Dark
Souls has a very, very good dungeon experience with these very precise things. Ashen opens it right up, which is really cool,” game director Derek Bradley tells us. “And the other side of it is we’re really focused on co-op, so we’re finely tuning that co-op experience to be the best that we could possibly get it.”
But there’s also a real risk to teaming up with strangers—will they actually stick around to help you, or wander off and leave you to face your inevitable death alone? “I think a really important factor of the game is actually the open world, meeting people out there, kind of doing a few smaller things with them just to find out how they are, and if you’d like to go a little bit further with them or not. Because when you open those doors and you choose to do it, those doors close behind you, and you’ve got to achieve something together. So there’s that sort of risk, I think, more than anything.”
It’s also difficult to tell who you’re pairing up with, as nobody has any facial features to judge them by. “The reason that we went with blank faces is that we wanted people to not judge each other by whatever the look on their face was,” says Bradley. “It’s like giving that blankness really helped people to roleplay and even relate to other people that came into the world.”
That facelessness and quiet cooperation is lending a real sense of mystery to the world of Ashen and its secrets hidden in the dark, but everything we’ve seen so far suggests we’ll be in for a tense surprise as we walk further out into the gloom. You’ll have to keep your wits about you if you want to get through as, like Dark
Souls, the combat and enemies you face will be a real challenge which you’ll only learn with practice. We can’t wait for more light to be shed on this before its 2018 release.
“Everything suggests we’ll be in for a tense surprise”
Above You’ll have to learn to rely on your lantern to help you through dungeons.
top right You’ll find giant gods who very rarely will be friendly.