ASHEN Timed Exclusivity Expires, Now Available on PS4, Switch, and Steam

If you’ve been following the Epic Game Store exclusivity controversy, you’ll know the vitriol that surrounds the platform. In an attempt to compete with Steam, the Epic Game Store has acquired several titles as one-year timed exclusives. Timed exclusivity is nothing new, but is generally considered a byproduct of the console wars. For the PC gaming world, Steam has been the ubiquitous storefront for over a decade. Many PC gamers have taken Epic’s attempts to split the market as more than just a competitive business decision. To some, it’s a personal attack, and are outspokenly against splitting their libraries between services. Boycotting the store isn’t enough for a small section of these jilted fans, and they have taken to review bombing the pages for games that won’t come to Steam for another year. However, this whole ordeal is ultimately just headline fodder if it doesn’t affect the overall sale of games. Games on the Epic store have seen positive sales figures, with Borderlands 3 selling 2.5x the amount Borderlands 2 did (you can hear more about it on the podcast episode where we discussed it). The next big question was whether or not the timed exclusivity would negatively impact Steam sales. With the first round of exclusives finally reaching the end of their contract, we’re about to find out.

Initially releasing in December 2019, Ashen is one of these titles that are now open to release on more platforms. Ashen is a special case, doubly exclusive for Xbox One and the Epic Game store. Gamers can now buy the game not only on Steam, but PS4 and Switch. This comes on the heels of the newly released Nightstorm Isle DLC, which adds a hefty chunk of content to the already meaty package.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Ashen, I highly recommend you do so. Our review is currently pending, but I did get the chance to play it when it first came out. Ashen has been described by many as Dark Souls-Lite, but don’t be fooled. The game is rich with atmosphere and far deeper than a simple imitation. While the combat is the same dodge/roll/block stamina gated system emblematic of the Souls system, Ashen does a lot to distinguish itself from the rest of the genre. Players are never without a companion, which will switch seamlessly from an AI to player-controlled without ever alerting you. The game also features a jumping and climbing mechanic, leading to a far more vertical world and puzzle design. Many secret spots are hidden behind complicated jumping puzzles, which forces you to look at the world from a whole new perspective. The game also features a growing town, giving you a real sense of accomplishment and purpose to vanquishing the darkness.

The game is not without its problems, but it’s still a must-have for any fan of the Souls-like genre. It starts a bit easy, but ramps into a challenge well worthy of any veteran player. So if you were previously boycotting it, give it a chance on Steam. Or if you’re a casual console scrub, check it out now on your not-Xbox. Or on your Xbox if you missed it. It’s still on that store. And if you have played it, let me know below how it ranks on your list of ARPGs!

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