Ashen is a very beautiful, minimalistic experience that follows a group of people that are trying to protect the light. This new age of visibility is under threat by those that crave the dark and you must battle against them. It's a fairly hardcore RPG setup that feels similar to Dark Souls with this featuring a stamina based combative system. I'll discuss that further under gameplay. That aside, you're moving through an open world that has linear properties to it. This is very much a progression based situation where you're working through open world areas that I'd consider hubs and then going forward.
There are main quests and side activities to take part in within each area. You might be helping out your growing town or just exploring to fight mini bosses or taking on dungeons that are hidden throughout the ruins. The general goal is to save the light and build a town, you get to see a really neat progression of that area as you complete sections. The folks you bring home build houses, structures and it starts to fill with life. It's really nice to see your work out there making a difference. The narrative was generally fine, but the core of this is the combative segments and exploration as you explore this now brightened environment.
Being stamina based combat wise this is a slower experience. It's more about pacing yourself and using timing to successfully eliminate enemies. The creatures you face are similar, they carry some impressive vertical jumping and at times can be annoying. I'm also not a fan of the whole death style games genre that has emerged, but there's a good balance here. It's not too difficult, but can be frustrating at times and I know that's something people desire so I look past that. There's something about this game that really keeps me going too, just an addicting style of gameplay I figure.
The multiplayer here is rather interesting as well since it's done in a passive style. You'll have allies randomly appearing or an AI partner, there are settings to tweak this. I'm personally not a fan of respawning enemies and that's something I thought should be mentioned. When you die, you'll run into the same enemies you just fought and during boss battles you'll often be fairly far away from them. I love the minimalistic style of Ashen, it's a beautiful game that's nice to just take in. The environments feel alive with various creatures roaming them and of course monsters too. There are lots of hidden secrets to discover and a basic, but decent system for upgrading your abilities. This title looks particularly great on Xbox One X with a native 4k resolution which was nice to see.
Ashen is a hardcore minimalistic RPG that delivers on a calming experience that requires pacing and patience to correctly take on the challenge. I really enjoyed this title despite not loving the genre, I think it looks great and really enjoyed the art style that was present. The combat feels slow paced and that works for the stamina style it presents.
There's a nice simplistic RPG setup here that doesn't require too much involvement and that was appreciated. It's a vast, yet confined world to explore with each area presenting a distinct look and atmosphere which constantly mixed it up. There's a lot to do as well as you battle through dungeons, face off against monsters and then take on the various bosses that are trying to prevent the light's desired return.
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Ashen Review on Xbox One X
Review Code Provided by ID@Xbox