Preview Ashen

At the last gaming exhibition E3 this year, as always, there were many bright announcements that made a large number of gamers very happy. Major developers have shown many interesting games that have been discussed for a long time. But when all the announcements were made and the hype went away a little, some media and attentive gamers were still able to notice that behind many high-profile projects, like everyone’s favorite Star Wars Battlefront 2, there are other good games, albeit not so popular and recognizable. However, they are also able to get their audience and are very high-quality projects, which, alas, remained a little in the shadows due to high-profile announcements. Quite an ordinary situation for a large-scale game event.

The developers of the action RPG Ashen are a small young studio Aurora44 based in New Zealand. You will be surprised, but in this wonderful country not only blockbusters are filmed and dance for Maori guests. The independent team from Aurora44, based on several trailers of their brainchild, expert feedback and information about their game, can very well count on success.

Ashen preview

Plot. As always, the planet is bad

Post-apocalypse themes in art are still popular all over the world. Even in our countries, the same STALKER series is popular both in the form of computer games and in the form of a book series. In Ashen, our world suffered a catastrophe and subsequent destruction. Humanity will no longer see the light of the sun because of the huge ash clouds of the volcano, and even a small ray of light does not leave humanity with hope for a good future.

However, you won’t have to live in complete darkness here. The light that people need comes from volcanoes. The world itself is inhabited by terrible monsters, which, as the developers promise, will be of enormous size. Well, in the dungeons we will be greeted by all sorts of undead, as in many classic games. In general, the world we got is not an easy one: demons and monsters roam everywhere, and even there is no sun.

Ashen preview

The key moment for the survival of humanity in this environment is the search for a new home, where it will be the safest and, preferably, most comfortable. Survival itself in Ashen is what the whole gameplay is built on. Traveling around the locations in the game, the main character will be able to meet a variety of characters on his way. You can interact with other characters in completely different ways. Some you are free to invite to your place and make your friend. But do you really need a certain character in your hideout? Each NPC in the game has a list of skills and abilities, and therefore, if you wish, you can assemble a team of good designers, but it will exist for a very short time due to the lack of fighters or doctors. So the formation of the team will have to be approached wisely.

What about the setting?

The world of Ashen is full of various secrets, mysteries and secrets that you can explore inside and out. For example, having reached the top of a mountain, you can look around for several miles and, catching your eyes on a curious place in the distance, go there in search of something and for new adventures. But what about the very ash that blocked the sun? This is all right. It seems that the bulk has settled at the top of the atmosphere of our planet, so nothing will prevent us from surveying the area from the mountain.

Ashen preview

Rivers, mountains and plains in the game were created by designers by hand and are distinguished by unusual and interesting designs. There is no random generation of locations here, which pleases: after all, such generations are rather dubious and, over time, are unlikely to surprise the player with new locations and views.

Also, the game developers mentioned that the world in Ashen will not only be diverse in terms of locations and views, but also filled with life, at least around the protagonist for sure. They have mentioned more than once that certain game situations will arise in the world of the game, which will not depend on a specific location and moment in time. It should be noted that this promise is far from the first that can be found from the developers of many similar projects. But not every game today can boast of the successful implementation of this mechanic. I would like to believe that in the case of Ashen, all promises will be kept and such a mechanic will perform well in this game.

Ashen preview

The visual side of the game

In terms of graphics in the game, the creators of the project from New Zealand decided to get creative and focused on interesting design and originality. Already all the familiar detailing of locations, animation of facial expressions and the behavior of the wind in the game, the Ashen developers decided to replace it with artistic creations, where all this is not and is not required. In fact, unusual figurines of heroes that resemble dolls look quite original and interesting, just like unusual monsters. And the surrounding locations addictive with their design and graphics. Many Western media outlets immediately compared the New Zealanders’ game to the amazing Ico, where, as you may remember, the developers decided to reduce the visual resources of the project to the very minimum, which only made the game better and more atmospheric.

Game process. What does the Souls series have to do with it?

The creators of Ashen plans to make the relationship of heroes in the world after the global catastrophe at the highest level. The multiplayer mode will be presented by the possibility of other live players in the same world with you. Most likely, it will be possible to invite heroes with AI to your shelter here, but with real players there is already a completely different system of relationships. A similar Souls system comes to mind here.

Ashen preview

The world famous franchise of rather difficult games from Hidetaki Miyazaki, which was launched in 2009 with the successful console project Demon’s Souls, had a very strong impact on the entire computer games industry and on the Ashen project in particular. In addition to the abundance of decadence in the game world and other players who roam the game world, the combat system is borrowed from the famous Souls series. After all, the genre of role-playing games has now gained momentum, and fans of various skirmishes and turn-based battles with enemies can find something for themselves from a whole list of all sorts of similar games at the moment.

But. Nowadays, many game creators add a lot of action to the game, sometimes turning them into a full-fledged slasher with RPG elements. But one should not assume that everything appeared only thanks to Miyazaki: the same Gothic series back in 2001 also assumed dynamics in battles, good distance control in fights and a good reaction to defeat enemies superior to you.

Characters in a world without light can fight enemies using two main types of attacks: fast and weak, and slow and powerful. A powerful attack takes longer, but can cause additional damage to the enemy, for example, stun him. Protection in the form of shields and somersaults in the game is also available. The player will be presented with rather severe requirements in terms of fighting; most likely, the characters will not help us much, for example, by reducing the distance to the enemy, as the same witcher Geralt did at the initial difficulty levels of part 3. So, it is definitely not worth waiting for easy battles in Ashen.

The creators of the game noted that in order to achieve success in the game and easier passage, you will have to spend a significant part of your time on the correct development of the skills of the protagonist. This RPG element is already firmly embedded in many modern open world games. It is expected that the developers from Aurora44 will be able to offer us a list of interesting and diverse skills and abilities, and not the standard set that everyone has become boring and is in almost any game. Here we should mention the same series of Souls where, with all the success of the implementation of the combat system, pumping a player by adding a new point to the skill scale looks like a rather boring task.

Ashen preview


Ashen’s game shows that she wants to move away from indie games more and more and resemble a modern high-profile project. I would like to note that even for such a long time before the release, which should take place only next year, the game already looks very good and interesting. The developers’ high bar is a little confusing, because the game is created by a small studio without a lot of funding, but the fact that the game mechanics work well, and the world of the game is interesting both in terms of research and in terms of graphics is very pleasing. We hope that studio Aurora44 will be able to successfully implement all its ideas and in 2019 we will have an interesting and memorable project with good gameplay and unusual graphics.

Ashen is due out on PC and Xbox One.

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