Ash of Gods: Redemption

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Developer: Aurum Dust
Release Date: March 23, 2018


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Switch/PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Ash of Gods'

by Liam Craig on March 12, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Ash of Gods is a mix between a roguelike role-playing visual novel and an online turn-based strategy game.

When it first launched on Kickstarter in 2017, Ash of Gods looked to be very much inspired by the wildly successful game, The Banner Saga. Reading a little deeper into the Kickstarter info, there were actual comments from Stoic, the developers of The Banner Saga, complimenting developer AurumDust on the project, which lent more credence to the idea that Ash of Gods was going to be something more than a carbon copy of The Banner Saga. In the end, the proof's in the pudding. We recently spent some time with a preview build of the game, and it looks like it's a lovingly crafted game of its own that's inspired by — but not a copycat of — the art and gameplay of Stoic's title.

While it might seem that Ash of Gods is mostly focused on tactical combat, that couldn't be further from the truth. At its core, the focus is its story of sacrifice and salvation. As you and your collection of characters becomes more involved in the story, you can reshape it as you play. The developer, AurumDust, calls this "rogue-like storytelling," and they explain it as allowing multiple story branches based on dialogue choices, but story branches are affected by your character's' actions.

Every action has a reaction, as the saying goes, and that's what the developer is promising players. For example, you might have a main character die off, but that doesn't end the story. You can keep playing and see where the story takes you. As a matter of fact, that's what the developer says they hope players will do, rather than loading an earlier save and trying again. You might even take so many different branches down the story path that you end up facing the final villain — only to find that he wants nothing to do with fighting you and bails on the "boss battle." Since the demo was pretty limited story-wise, we'll have to take the developer at their word for how well this will all come together in the end. From the short preview build I played, the story elements reminded me of what you'd find in a visual novel, and that works A-OK.

Combat, from what is presented in the limited demo, is very similar to the majority of tactical RPGs. You pick heroes from the available pool and send them into battle. There are dozens of character types promised, and from the ones I played, it'll be interesting to see how they all interact, as each features type-specific abilities that can sync up in useful ways with other members of the combat party.

The combat system uses Energy and Health. Energy powers actions, and it also acts as armor, so, when you attack someone, you can reduce their Energy or Health. Decreasing their Energy leaves them defenseless in more ways than one. When you combine that with character special attacks and the collectible combat cards that become available as you play, it quickly becomes obvious that there's more depth to the combat than expected.

Courtesy of rotoscoping, the character motion effects look really cool. Combat moves are especially eye-catching, as characters throw down with spinning blade attacks and the like. The rest of the visuals are equally solid; you can see there's been a lot of attention paid to the art in Ash of Gods. From the close-up faces during chats to the player's movement throughout the environments, it's all lovingly crafted. The environments, the game map, and just about everything else are wonderfully crafted.

Lest I forget, the music. Composer Adam Skorupa has brought us scores for games like Painkiller, Shadow Warrior and Witcher, and his skill shines here. He builds an audio experience based on classic and distinct medieval sounds and instruments.

From what I played of the Ash of Gods 90-minute preview build, there's a lot that players can look forward to when the game is released later this month. The developers seem to love what they're creating, from the base gameplay to the art and music. It all seems to be coming together nicely. In just a few weeks, we'll find out if they can make it all work.

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