Web Exclusive

Video Game Review: Ashen

Read Kyle Reardon's experience playing Ashen in February's Web Exclusive video game review. By Kyle Reardon
Web Exclusive, Zeitgeist

Platform: Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

There is absolutely nothing in “Ashen” that hasn’t been done before. The gameplay mechanics, the graphical style, and even the exact control scheme originated in other games. In the end, “Ashen’s” biggest hurdle is convincing you should play it instead of the dozen other games that came before it.

The story may be the most compelling ingredient. While many previous games that came before “Ashen” focus on the cataclysmic end of the world, this story takes on a more hopeful tone, surprisingly. You are present at the birth of a new world; a giant light begins to burn at the center. The light, personified in a creature called “The Ashen,” has fallen to Earth. You are tasked with its safekeeping.

It’s a lovely concept, and consequently my favorite element of the game. Being there at the beginning and questing into the environment to seek out and protect the light is a fascinating idea. Discovered characters come and live in your central hub and rebuild it into new homes and buildings. They give you missions, both main story and side quests, which move the plot and increase your character’s stamina and health.

However, the execution falls short of its story’s potential. The difficulty is frustrating, not fun. The environments can be peaceful and lovely, however far too similar to one another, preventing the desire to explore. Its simplistic graphics, while stylish, create a monochromatic catalog of enemy designs, making them hard to differentiate and combat. The result is a game with a compelling story, but after a few hours simply leaves you wanting to play better versions that came before it.

I ended my time with “Ashen” feeling as though it lost potential. It isn’t very common in games to be given the task of rebirthing the world in light. I wanted to be a part of that; I wanted to dive in more and drink in this new world. But too many snippets within the game chipped away at my enthusiasm and enjoyment, leaving me wishing for one of “Ashen’s” inspirations, rather than “Ashen” itself.


“In the end, “Ashen’s” biggest hurdle is convincing you should play it instead of the dozen other games that came before it.”


Peer Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

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