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