Games of the Year

Ashen

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Ashen is an action RPG about a wanderer in search of a place to call home. This is a world where nothing lasts, no matter how tightly you cling to it. At its core, Ashen is about forging relationships. Players can guide those they trust to their camp - together, you might just stand a chance.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

It's like if Dark Souls went to rehab, cleaned up, got back on its anti-depressants and started rebuilding its relationships with its family. It followed its passion, built a career from scratch, had a few kids, moved to Wyoming, started a ranch and forged a legacy that'll last a thousand years. Plus it started powerlifting, got absolutely yoked and started wearing Tom Ford all the time for some reason.
It's really, really good. It got lambasted by a bunch of SoulsBorne YouTubers as just a storebrand FromSoft game but it really isn't. It really is like a lovechild of Bloodborne and Journey. The music will make you cry, the landscapes will have you staring in awe and the caves will have you punching your thigh until you tear a ligament. 10/10.

Review from Steam

Rating: 6.5/10
Genre: Open World RPG
THE GOOD:
+ The minimalist art style works well and provides a unique look
+ Combat is identical to your typical ‘souls-like’ game albeit much simpler. You have to manage your stamina while you block, dodge and attack enemies looking for the right moment to strike. There are no parries or backstabbing involved but the combat can be fun and engaging. This may be a good entry point for newcomers to the genre.
+ Completing side/main quest allows your village to grow. Its always nice to see at the beginning of the game how things develop over time. As you play through the game you find new people to add to your village and unlock new quests.
THE AVERAGE:
+/- The game features quite a few different weapons however each weapon has minor variation in stats so none of them feel truly unique. Strangely, the starting weapon has one of the best stats and move sets, I upgraded that weapon and used it to beat the entire game. You can not upgrade shields or armor and there is only a handful of them in the game, each one increasing damage reduction at the expense of stamina.
+/- Character builds are limited compared to other games in the genre. You can equip up to 4 perks and decided if you want to use a single- or two-handed weapon.
+/- Companions fight along side you, however sometimes they stop following you, get stuck in the oddest places and in general don’t always behave the way they are suppose to.
+/- Level design is a bit inconsistent. Early levels are fun to explore while later levels feel more confusing and difficult. Your reward for exploring levels for the most part is crafting materials, usually you will have so much by the end of the game it doesn’t seem to make a difference. There are no shortcuts to unlock which is a big part of these types of games so exploring levels doesn’t feel as rewarding as it should be.
THE BAD:
+/- Checkpoints are sparsely spaced out, because there are no shortcuts, if you die you have to go all the way back. This is problematic in the last few sections of the game when things get really hard. The last boss notably is poorly designed and when you die if you have run all the way back through a mini dungeon just to get back.
CONCLUSION:
Ashen took ‘souls’ combat but failed to grasp what makes these types of games so interesting and fun. It’s a good first attempt at the genre but limited characters builds and weapons and frustrating level design and enemy encounters really hold it back.

Review from Steam

In short Ashen is a game that doesn't feel complete, it feels like I'm waiting for the full release of the game. Even though I said this I would still recommend the game if it is on sale and you enjoy souls-like games.
In long Ashen breaks my heart. The game has so many great ideas and cool moments, like meeting Gefn for the first time, or seeing the diasora, or the town building mechanic, but other parts of the game feel incomplete. When I say that I mean when you explore the world, which looks good and is thematically interesting, you only find crafting materials, ashen feathers, or weapons and armor. There aren't many secrets, or interesting items, or characters. There are only 11 npcs in ashen and 2 of them can only be found in the DLC. Of the 9 npcs in the base game 7 can give you main or side quests and the other two are just characters that you interact with to complete quests. All of the npcs have little depth, and have little backstory. Since the game is intended to be a souls-like it seems it was intended for the characters to have so little depth so they appear mysterious, but it only makes the game feel incomplete. Also, a lot of weapons and enemies have the same move set, and the combat is very bare bones which contributes to the feeling of the game being incomplete. But nothing contributes to the feeling of incompleteness when playing ashen as much as bosses reappearing as basic enemies. Like the bosses were originally intended to be just enemies and are just "placeholder" bosses. Its also strange that while the game feels unfinished the released DLC that feels like it should be in the base game, but was just detached from the world and turned into DLC.
This review is mostly negative, so you might be confused as to why I still recommended this game, and its mostly because I love souls-like games, and even though the game doesn't feel finished the few highlights kept me playing like some of the later bosses being really good. I would still only buy this game if it was on discount and you enjoy souls-like games.

Review from Steam

I'm going to say this is a cautious recommendation. There are interesting areas and enemies to encounter and some elements are quite unique, however I was left slightly underwhelmed.
The most immediate issue I have with the game is tied to the art direction. All the characters look like Playmobil characters; I assume this was to save on asset development and polygon count however the result is disconcerting. In stark contrast to the characters a lot of the enemies and creatures look very nice, so I can't help but wish they had found a middle ground with the character models themselves. The second most outstanding issue is tied to multiplayer. For context, I enjoy playing through action RPGs in multiplayer with friends; if available, I usually play in multiplayer. It is possible to play through this game in co-op by setting a multiplayer password, but instead of directly joining the game uses a sort of matchmaking system based on player proximity and world state. This means it is possible to end up in a situation where the game refuses to sync you to your friend until certain requirements are met and you spend a lot of time going "are you doing X right now" to figure out whether your friend is in your game or your AI companion is just exhibiting strange behavior. This is exacerbated by the fact that your AI companion/co-op partner takes the appearance of the character whose quest you are undertaking at the time, meaning you will never see what your friend is wearing or what their character looks like. This, combined with the ability for characters to boost onto ledges and open dungeon doors only if their companion is present, leads to an odd dissonance where for most of the game it appears to have been designed for a single player, yet sometimes appears to strongly incentivize cooperative play. It's very strange and combined with the matchmaking I described earlier, caused a great amount of frustration.
If you're still game to play, the game does feature some very interesting environments and has some fairly unique mechanics; preparation is heavily incentivized with potion crafting, consumable hoarding and spear crafting being key to progress. Having the correct items on hand can trivialize encounters. You unlock fast travel about halfway through the game and combined with spear throwing, teleportation and lanterns used for visibility makes for pretty satisfying exploration while still allowing you to properly return to base and prepare. Each character has their own questline as well, and completing them gives resources, health, stamina, or access to additional upgrades.
The DLC is worth getting as it's a large unique dungeon with new enemies and a decent boss. The soundtrack was functional, but it didn't stand out to me one way or the other. There is only one ending, but completion on the game's hard mode (unlocked midway through the game) and DLC is required for 100% achievements. Finally, I found the story, final boss and ending underwhelming. The story and ending needed a little less ambiguity in my opinion, and with only a couple standout mechanics present in the game I have difficulty mustering enthusiasm for a second playthrough. The game functions well and is enjoyable; I feel comfortable recommending it to the average player, but it's missing something.

Review from Steam

---{ Graphics }---
☐ You forget what reality is
☐ Beautiful
☑ Good
☐ Decent
☐ Bad
☐ Don‘t look too long at it
☐ MS-DOS
---{ Gameplay }---
☐ Very good
☑ Good
☐ It's just gameplay
☐ Mehh
☐ Watch paint dry instead
☐ Just don't
---{ Audio }---
☐ Eargasm
☑ Very good
☐ Good
☐ Not too bad
☐ Bad
☐ I'm now deaf
---{ Audience }---
☐ Kids
☑ Teens
☑ Adults
☐ Grandma
---{ PC Requirements }---
☐ Check if you can run paint
☑ Potato
☐ Decent
☐ Fast
☐ Rich boi
☐ Ask NASA if they have a spare computer
---{ Difficulty }---
☐ Just press 'W'
☐ Easy
☑ Easy to learn / Hard to master
☐ Significant brain usage
☐ Difficult
☐ Dark Souls
---{ Grind }---
☐ Nothing to grind
☐ Only if u care about leaderboards/ranks
☑ Isn't necessary to progress
☐ Average grind level
☐ Too much grind
☐ You'll need a second life for grinding
---{ Story }---
☐ No Story
☐ Some lore
☐ Average
☐ Good
☑ Lovely
☐ It'll replace your life
---{ Game Time }---
☐ Long enough for a cup of coffee
☐ Short
☑ Average
☐ Long
☐ To infinity and beyond
---{ Price }---
☐ It's free!
☐ Worth the price
☑ If it's on sale
☐ If u have some spare money left
☐ Not recommended
☐ You could also just burn your money
---{ Bugs }---
☐ Never heard of
☑ Minor bugs
☐ Can get annoying
☐ ARK: Survival Evolved
☐ The game itself is a big terrarium for bugs
---{ ? / 10 }---
☐ 1
☐ 2
☐ 3
☐ 4
☐ 5
☐ 6
☑ 7
☐ 8
☐ 9
☐ 10

Review from Steam

This game falls into the Souls-Like genre, but it's not Dark Souls clone. It has its own unique style, interesting atmosphere and lore. The combat is not overly complicated, but it's not one dimensional. This game is well worth one play through.

Review from Steam

Had a great time playing through this with my friend. Definitely a souls like, but not as deep as the souls series as far as combat is concerned. The art style is frankly fantastic, especially in later parts of the game. Coop took a Google search to figure out, but once we had it down we never had any issues connecting.

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