ASHEN

ASHEN CON­TRIB­UTES MORE HITS THAN MISSES TO THE DARK SOULS FOR­MULA. US$39.99 | PC, Xbox | www.ashen-game.com

TechLife Australia - - DISCOVER -

I’M RE­ALLY NOT kid­ding when I say Ashen wears the Dark Souls in­flu­ence on its sleeve. Es­tus Flask? Ashen calls it a Crim­son Gourd, but it works the same. Bon­fires? They’re rit­ual stones now. Souls used as cur­rency, lost upon death but able to be re­cov­ered next life? Here it’s “sco­ria.” Stamina-based com­bat with light and heavy at­tacks, plus an em­pha­sis on dodge rolls? Lit­er­ally the same con­trol scheme. A story where you must reignite the world’s heart to bring light to a dy­ing world? The Souls games were never so opaque with their plot, but yeah.

There’s a solid va­ri­ety of scenery as well, from peace­ful woods to strange, jut­ting ruins, from murky swamps to a realm of eter­nal dark­ness. And Ashen’s min­i­mal­ist style cer­tainly works in its fa­vor here. I’d never seen a world quite like Ashen’s, and I con­sis­tently felt drawn in, want­ing to know and see more. Did I have to go wan­der­ing off into the shad­ows, where I knew I was likely to die? Did I have to climb up into the sky-whale’s nest? No, but I def­i­nitely wanted to, and Ashen de­serves ku­dos for in­spir­ing that kind of or­ganic ex­plo­ration.

The world of Ashen is vast and open.

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