Like a home away from home, Ashen feels both startlingly familiar and original. A44’s action-RPG wears its Dark Souls-inspired identity proudly, delivering nearly identical mechanics and progression systems along with a captivating open world and gorgeous art style. Those, combined with charmingly minimalistic two-player co-op, elevate Ashen to more than just a Dark Souls clone. Whether you’re tiptoeing through a shadowy dungeon, squaring off against a massive boss, or exploring off the main pathway, Ashen has enough of its own ideas to feel additive instead of derivative.
Ashen tells a standard but well-written story of a battle between light and darkness, elevated by solid voice acting. The eponymous god – a large, radiant bird – disappeared years ago, sending the world that it had kept whole into a bleak period of darkness. The heart of the story comes from the environments you explore, the people you meet, and their mixture of hope and despair as they await the return of the Ashen. As you begin to restore a normal semblance of life to this world, the beauty of what was once lost in darkness becomes even clearer. Though understated in its delivery, it’s a stirring and atmospheric tale.