It becomes safe to say Dark Souls spawned an entire generation of gaming when independent studios start labeling their work, proudly and upfront, as being “souls-like,” or part of the “souls” genre. While some titles steer clear of identifying themselves with FromSoftware’s phenomenon, many now happily seat themselves next to the trilogy and look confidently up towards their only slightly older, and in many cases much wiser, distant cousin Dark Souls. Ashen, studio A44‘s in-development title, is one of these latter relatives. Ashen claims the following on its Steam page:
“Ashen is faithful to the “souls” genre of stamina-based combat, introducing players to a punishing yet satisfyingly vast world. But here’s the twist – no two gameplay experiences are alike. Whether you’re exploring bogs, investigating a fjord or pillaging an old palace, where you are at any given moment will dramatically alter the course of your adventure. It’s a brutal open world; you’re just living in it.”
Its multiplayer mechanic, however, has an unexpected lineage tracing back to — of all things — Journey. Instead of a controlled multiplayer experience with partner communication, Ashen‘s multiplayer is random, fluid, and silent. Encounter allies and work either side-by-side to accomplish a goal or carry on your separate ways with no hard feelings on either side. Currently, there are ways to play with someone you know, but they’re highly limited and complex. Instead, your world is populated with faceless potential teammates all striving for the same goal: to conquer the punishing world that is Ashen. Ashen released on December 7 for PC through Epic Games and for Xbox One, and is slated for a later Steam release as well.