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Remnant: From the Ashes (Switch) Review

April 21, 2023 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Remnant: From the Ashes Image Credit: Gunfire Games
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Remnant: From the Ashes (Switch) Review  

I took on this review because I really like Remnant: From the Ashes when it originally came out. It’s a unique game then and that holds true now. I am also 100% positive I reviewed it somewhere, either on here or a different site but I cannot find it. So rather than breaking down the whole game like I typically do, I’ll just give a brief rundown of the game and then talk about the Switch performance, which is a bit scary.

At its more fundamental core, Remnant: From the Ashes is a third person roguelite game. It’s basically Gears of War but with a story that doesn’t matter at all and elements of the game world that can be changed. It is also a Soulslike game because you have a stamina system that governs rolling/sprinting, limited refillable health potions, bonfires where you recover health charges but enemies also respawn and so on. So it’s a mishmash of a few different genres but it all actually works fairly well.

When I say the game world can be changed I’m not speaking in small terms. While the tile sets for the game is the same, level geometry, quests, even the main campaign can have different permutations for what is going on. For example, in one run, in the first area I met a giant talking tree that I could either kill to get a trait or find a NPC to get an item to talk to it correctly. But on a re-rolled campaign, the tree wasn’t there at all and a crashed helicopter with a different NPC in there. You can talk to this one to eventually get a pocket watch that helps you with stamina regeneration. You can even give this trinket up to a boss if you don’t want it, to bypass the encounter entirely and get different gear. The game really prides itself on you doing multiple runs and seeing all the content it has.

Re-rolling the campaign just effects the game world, your actual character stays the same, so things like your weapons, inventory, level, skills unlocked, all carry through to the next run. It’s a bit like how the Dead Rising games intentionally wanted you to have a few “bad” runs to get your characters experienced enough to not be so easy to take down.

You basically only have three weapon slots, two for ranged and one for melee. While you could technically specialize your character in a melee way, this is much more of a ranged game while melee is generally see as the choice of last resort or you want to conserve ammo. With your two guns though, you can attach a weapon mod to each gun that you can activate when its ready. Weapon mods include an area of effect healing circle, flamethrower, grenade launcher, to more specialized mods that deal various elemental damage types. You can swap mods out at will, at least with most guns, so if you get a new gun that has a cool mod but you like your current weapon, you can take off the mod and put it on your current gun. You can also upgrade weapons at a vendor increasing their damage and general effectiveness.

For gear, you have three slots for head piece, chest piece and leggings. Each piece of gear has an armor set bonus that has a passive bonus which increases with the more items you have. One bonus might boost your damage but another increases the amount of scrap (money) you pick up). You also have a necklace slot and two ring slots which, again, can bestow various positive bonuses to your character to improve their survivability.

The way you level up in the game is pretty interesting actually. Whenever you gain a level or find a skill book you gain a trait point. Traits vary from increasing your health, increasing your stamina, boosting your overall experience gain, increasing your stamina regen and so on. However, not all traits are unlocked from the start, in fact, only a handful are available from the get go. You unlock additional traits by completing side quests, beating bosses, finding specific items, etc. There is even a trait you can unlock by killing a co-op partner during one specific boss fight. Each trait has up to 20 ranks associated with it, so it’s a good idea to pick a few to start off with first, boost them up and once they are finished, you can move onto new traits.

This edition of the game is the “complete” edition on other consoles, so it has two DLC packs already baked into it. One is a new Adventure game biome, and the other is a new campaign biome/story. I didn’t have to do any additional downloads when I downloaded the game, it was just one thing.

The real x-factor with Remnant: From the Ashes is how it actually handles on the Switch. I’ll be charitable and say “not great”. Now, if the Switch is your only option and you have at least one friend (ideally two) that you love to play co-op games with, Remnant is still a great game to play and is a pretty unique game for the platform. However, if you and your friends have access to three reasonably good PCs with Steam, Xbox Ones or above, or PS4/PS5’s, play Remnant on those instead.

To say the load times are a problem is an understatement. I’m not running this game off a 4X CD-ROM drive or even a Switch cart, it’s installed either on the Switch’s internal storage or a reasonably fast SD card and the load times are abysmal. This is within an error margin of 1 or 2 seconds but it takes 56 seconds to get from Ward 13 (the safe area) to the main game world (where combat happens), while it takes 44 seconds to get from the main game world back to Ward 13. For comparisons sake, I did this with the PS4 which was 41 seconds to go to combat and 34 to get back to Ward 13, and on the PS5 which was 21 seconds to get to combat and 17 to get back to the Ward. During one early cinematic sequence when a character is talking to you, it took a minute and 5 seconds to get back to me being in control of my character. I generally find that to be unacceptable.

It’s not all bad news, though this is certainly the worst of it. This isn’t some streaming service game like Control, RE Village or Hitman 3, so the fact they were able to get the game running at all is admirable. Considering that Square couldn’t even do this for Kingdom Hearts ports, good on you Remnant. The game doesn’t feel like it runs entirely at full speed and it does get hit with the ugly stick pretty good when playing docked. The portable mode does help hide some of the flaws and even on my old Switch screen it looked fine enough but given the control options, that’s not an entirely ideal way to play.

The final score: review Average
The 411
Here’s the thing, from an objective viewpoint Remnant: From the Ashes is an 8.0 game or above, at least in my eyes. It has some great co-op shooter action, real reasons to play through areas again and again and is a challenging game to get through. However, the Switch port is certainly the weakest of the available systems that Remnant is on. If it’s your only option, it’s your only option and it is still well worth playing. However, if you have a choice between any other console (or computer) and the Switch, get it on something else instead. It is a minor miracle the game runs at all on a Switch but not at the cost of almost minute long load times.