Remnant: From The Ashes DLC Review – A Lot More Bang For A Lot Less Buck
Our previous review for Remnant – From the Ashes rated it pretty positively. For a lower budget game, it crossed all the right stuff off from the good soulslike list to make a great soulslike game. But what else should we expect from the studio that did Darksiders II? The vanilla version may not have had enough time to fully create the game they wanted, but they certainly made a game that was really really fun. So after like, a month of asking for a review copy, I finally got the chance to see how the full game—with both the Swamps of Corsus and Subject 2923 DLCs—feels in this more completed state. The short answer is, well, it feels considerably more completed.
Let’s revisit the main story of Remnant: From the Ashes. Spoiler alert, obviously. Earth has been all but completely annihilated by an invasion of aliens(?) called the Root. You arrive at Ward 13, the last safe refuge for humans, determined to make it to a lighthouse on a nearby island for some reason. You travel through a few different realms via magic crystal, and return to beat the final boss which was the gateway of the Root into our world, located in that lighthouse.
Remnant: From the Ashes – Subject 2923 is the better of the DLCs, as it’s more or less a continuation of the campaign and the only one with real story content. Having defeated the Root thing sprouting from the brain of the Dreamer, it was only natural for the player to say “huh?” The main story goes a bit into just what the Dreamers were, but not so much the why. We know their brains were the method of teleportation to other dimensions, but true to Gunfire form, that’s about all we learned.
Subject 2923 indicated that we’d find out a bit more about the nature of the Dreamers. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case. There are a few odd audio logs of a scientist saying “what if we stuck a laptop in someone’s brain,” and that’s about the extent of the additional lore. You meet one of the original Dreamers in the DLC, but even she doesn’t really have much to add. The lore of Remnant: From the Ashes has a lot of potential to be fascinating, but without enough detail, it kind of deflates.
Fortunately, we’re not actually here for the story. We’re here for everything else. Cool new zones to explore and new things to kill and new things to kill with. Each Remnant – From the Ashes DLC adds a handful of non-traditional firearms that shoot energy or arrows or bugs, and armor with a neat perk that’s only viable if you use all three pieces of the set, and a dozen new rings with various buffs. New enemies, new areas, and most importantly, new bosses. DLC, in a general sense, should be a good continuation of the original game. For the most part, I think Subject 2923 and Swamps of Corsus do a good job of that. The former especially, so let’s first talk the latter.
Swamps of Corsus doesn’t have any area expansion per say, but it does expand upon an already existing area, the Swamps of Corsus obviously. Adding a bunch of extra bosses and a few weapons to that part of the campaign, it’s a seamless expansion to the zone. The new bosses in Swamps of Corsus are still very creative, such as a big wall of thorns, but at the same time they feel very much at home. I couldn’t have pointed out which were from the vanilla experience and which were new. As for weapons and armor, it’s about what you’d expect in any other Remnant: From the Ashes zone. All things you would expect, and also a survival mode.
The survival mode is at least something fresh. Even before the DLC, Remnant: From the Ashes has a good amount of replayability, but generally, that just boils down to going into multiplayer and helping other people in their campaigns. Survival mode comes with Swamps of Corsus, and turns the game into something of a roguelite. You begin in the Labyrinth with your same character, only this time, red, mad, and nude. After a brief interim where you can shop for items—consumables, rings, weapons, perks, etc—with your scrap, you then run through linear “dungeons,” trying to collect as much gear and resources as possible on your way to the boss. Rinse and repeat til you die.
I did enjoy survival mode for a bit, but really there’s just not that much in it for the player. Yes, doing survival mode is the only way to get the currency to unlock weapon skins, and even some powerful items if you’re really into it. But by then you’ll have beaten the Remnant: From the Ashes campaign and probably won’t do much with it. If you’re like me and don’t have the energy to do NG+, survival mode is just like those randomly generated quests from Skyrim. Post-game content, perfectly good, but not too deep.
Subject 2923 however is a full proper DLC that brings you to several new areas. The story is whatever, but the content is more of what made Remnant: From the Ashes so great. It begins with a sort of introductory area, where you are fighting your way through a sort of abandoned farmland at night. This was probably one of my favorite areas in the game visually, and I wish there was more of it. Then you arrive at Ward Prime. Ground zero.
The gameplay of Ward Prime was unlike any other part of Remnant: From the Ashes. Rather than a linear area full of enemies, Ward Prime is almost puzzle-like in its design. You need to unlock the big door, and to do that, you need to find a key, which you can only get from finding a key, and so on. There are a few instances of the next key being behind a Root wall, which requires you to use a teleport-to-an-identical-dimension-but-this-one-is-purple item, and while you’re in the purple world, there are enemies that pursue you, some of which can’t be killed. All the while, finding audio logs and other lore items about what happened here. Certainly none of this is new. But Ward Prime took some thinking and deep exploration to get through which in my opinion is a great way to shake up the expectations in a more or less repetitive (but still fun!) game.
Then there’s the rat land. I forgot what it’s called. It’s a frozen forest with rat-men (and bat-men too). This may be the largest and most fun part of Remnant: From the Ashes – Subject 2923, but ultimately it’s just more of the same. Linear levels, wide variety of cool enemies, new host of interesting bosses. Big rats, little rats, rats in heavy armor and, rats with ice powers. And for the bosses, bigger rats, rats in even heavier armor, and rats with even more ice powers. If you’ve played the campaign, you know the deal. Each area has a theme, and this one is rats and ice. Like I said before, the story content isn’t what will keep you playing. It’s great fun and I definitely enjoyed this part of the game. It really is a continuation of the main game.
Really, that’s what the DLCs are. More of the same, and if you liked Remnant: From the Ashes as much as I did, that’s a good thing. The Swamps of Corsus is not so much an expansion as it is cut content being returned to the game. Even so, adding in new bosses, equipment, and survival mode to the mix adds a lot of extra playtime. Subject 2923, on the other hand, was tremendous fun. The story may not be as gratifying as I would hope, but like I said. We’re here for the gameplay. The DLCs combined added probably ~7 extra hours on to the length of the campaign, not including however much time I spent in multiplayer. I think the additions of Swamps of Corsus and Subject 2923 together make the Remnant experience a lot more complete.