A warm sunny day on the market. You and your daughter walk amidst the hustle and bustle of vendors in search of a perfect birthday gift for your wife. Bam! The next minute, everything around you is in shambles. Corpses and entrails litter streets where once stood citizens and vendor stalls. Hopes and dreams turned to ashes. The culling has begun.
This is where the gameplay kicks off in AurumDust‘s story driven rogue-like rpg Ash of Gods: Redemption, slated for release in March, 2018 on Steam. Ash of Gods tries to combine elements from visual novels to card deck building games, with a focus on rogue-like perma-loss mechanics and an online PVP/PVE mode weaved in. Indian Noob got the chance to spend 90 minutes with the game and here is what we came up with.
ASH OF GODS:REDEMPTION
The story of Ash of Gods takes place in a world where the Gods have abandoned the world and humanity is on the verge of a purge, at least that’s the case when the game begins. The game follows three separate protagonists as they journey with a band of survivors to withstand the game’s version of the apocalypse. There is a strong focus on narrative and under-pressure choice making which will have long lasting consequences, that may or may not be instantly recognizable. You are tasked with managing your resources and keeping your band of misfits alive and how to do that is entirely up to you.
If all of this reminds you of The Banner Saga, well that’s because Ash of Gods is strongly influenced by the said game. But the game has it’s own distinct style and lore. Although the story is interesting, the writing could definitely use a quality check, especially the dialogues. In the 90 minutes of playtime, the characters and writing failed to grip me the way I expected it to. It felt off and generic. But there is always room for improvement as the game is still in development and we only got to experience it for a short period. So there is a chance that it gets better as the story unfolds.
Ash of Gods has so many things going for it that if I were to list them all, it would take a few large paragraphs. Suffice to say that those who like The Banner Saga will feel right at home. Your primary job is to lead a band of survivors to safety while managing your resources and battling foes you encounter on your way. The game has an overworld map where you travel to different locations, visual novel-style cutscenes where you can explore the environment, converse with characters, and take decisions that you deem fit.
The combat takes you to a screen where you can customize your party, choose your card deck, and manage your items. Combat is turn and grid based. Your party and that of the enemy will take turns to go at each other’s throat, and are free to do so by using various class abilities, cards, tactics etc. The ability to use cards is a nice feature, and the classes have some decent skills as of now. What’s cool is that you can use both your health and your magic meter to cast abilities. It’s a nice touch and adds another strategic layer to the combat. Animations are good enough and more are on the way. Overall solid combat and mechanics. Nothing to complain about here other than nitpicking.
Ash of Gods is primarily a single player story driven rpg cum visual novel. But that didn’t stop the devs from implementing an online component in the form of PVE and PVP sections with ranked leaderboards. In the words of the developer: “Unlock new characters and cards, upgrade them to build your own unique strategy and tactics. Create your own clans, join forces with friends and participate in the battles together.” While this sounds promising, the devs are yet to implement these components into the game. As of now, it’s single player only. Its safe to assume that these additions will be patched in once the game nears its release date.
Visuals, Performance and Sound
The inspirations from The Banner Sage carries over to the art and music too. But rather than mimicking Banner Saga, Ash of Gods tries to do it’s own thing when it comes to the visuals. The environments are gorgeous to look at and has a painted feeling to them. The art style and color palette complements the geography and world design. The visuals can be summed up in the following words : a feast for the eyes.
The game runs at a locked 30 fps for now, and keeps it rock steady. I did run into a bug where one character refused to do any moves during combat and thus preventing me from progressing further. This was fixed with a save reload. No crashes or freezes whatsoever.Sound design is very well done with music tracks oozing of atmosphere and feel. It has the whole desperate measures and forlorn hope theme nailed. Definitely something I’d pick up as a separate downloadable package.
Those who love story driven RPGs with lots of choice and consequences and strategic combat need not look further. This is your game. Although the game is strikingly similar to The Banner Saga, it does a few things of its own to keep things interesting and fresh. The dialogues could be better but they are not so awful as to ruin the game or anything. In short, Ash of Gods:Redemption is a game to keep in your checklist if you enjoy turn based combat, rogue-like elements, moral dilemmas, enticing art style and a solid story to boot.