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Ashen (Action RPG)

I wanted to create a couple of placeholders for interesting games coming out in the future. The first is called Ashen, and it's a very unique looking action RPG coming in 2018. It seems like it has much in common with Dark Souls in terms of stamina-based, difficult combat taking place in dangerous world. The big difference, which makes it very appealing to me, is that there seems to be a companion system that's integral to this game. I can't tell if you can opt for an NPC companion (I hope that's the case), but the developer has referenced co-op with other players.

I'm very interested to see how this one shapes up! I'm glad to know this is definitely coming to the U.S. on the PC/Steam, so it's a game to look forward to.

Here's a pretty recent video:


And a link to their Steam store page:

And here's a PAX East 2018 (game convention) interview with one of the devs. It features some more gameplay footage.

Okay, I found more information about how the companion/co-op system works. It sounds like it's got tremendous potential!  Here are some snippets from and

Basic combat (sounds like Dark Souls mixed with Dragon's Dogma):

I discovered both heavy and light attacks, and the ability to combine swings into combos. I also discovered the ability to climb ledges, sprint, and dodge - all standard action RPG fare. It was only when I discovered that a random player had appeared in my game that I began to appreciate how special Ashen could turn out to be.

Interesting dynamic companions:

The chap who spawned into my game was wielding a large, two-handed club and didn't seem at all hostile, thankfully. Aurora 44 says that's by design. Ashen is supposed to be a solitary experience, albeit with connected "encounters" delivering passive emergent play that AI simply isn't capable of.

During these encounters, you'll only be able to communicate with physical emotes, waving, pointing and that sort of thing. You won't be able to find any co-op partner's gamertag or communicate with voice. There are no lobbies either. These encounters are designed to be fleeting, and perhaps at times, poignant moments because you'll both live and die together as you tackle some of the game's hardest content.

If no players are available, you can journey with an AI NPC:

Aurora 44 was careful to ensure that it would be effectively impossible to troll other players in these situations. There is no team damage, nor character collision, meaning that connected players can't interfere with your game at all – save for helping you tackle the horrors that lie within. If there are no players available, Aurora 44 says an AI non-player character (NPC) will eventually spawn instead.

Bringing these dynamic players/companion/NPCs into your settlement:

The game features a passive mutliplayer mode wherein you are anonymously matched with others, ensuring that trust through skill and reliability is a keen theme in the game. Those other, faceless, adventurers can both aid you in combat, or -once they’ve disconnected- they can join up to be a part of your settlement as an NPC -if you invited them to do so while they were online.

If you take someone else to your town, they disconnect upon entering – becoming a permanent NPC. Those NPCs provide services, character progression, town progression and story insight.

Character progression via perks can give you a battle pet/companion:

Character progression in Ashen can be found in our Talisman system. Talismans that can be found or crafted, unlocking character perks. These Talisman perks are very much story driven. They will do simple things like increase your carry weight or give you access to more complex things like an animal companion.

Man, I'm really starting to get similar vibes to the time prior to Dragon's Dogma. Not saying they will be similar games - I think the tone and action in this game will be quite different. But, before Dragon's Dogma came out, I really couldn't get enough of the preview videos. It just had a feeling to it that was really appealing. Ashen could be headed that same direction in terms of anticipation of a new property; I'm really liking what I've read and seen.

The idea of these dynamic team-ups, if it really is seemless and can easily incorporate an AI/NPC if you're offline, sounds amazing. And teaming up with an animal companion to help sounds cool. I like these games with relatively simple yet interesting premises, where you do a lot of adventure-building yourself through roaming around.

E3 is in full swing, and I was starting to get a bit worried because there had been few mentions online of Ashen. Well, fortunately I came across a YouTube video! Great news here, too. According to the creative director, the full game was playable on the show floor. He also said the game is very close to completion, and it sounds like it should be relatively soon (he said definitely this year).

Very excited to play this game, and to get some in-depth impressions from reviewers! Here's the clip:

There was apparently a big flood of new info that came out last week, but I missed it! Here's the thread from Resetera, with some awesome screenshots:

And this is the original article on Windows Central:

Tons of great news in there, including a video, images, and a .gif, but probably the best news is that the game seems to be getting close to release:

Ashen is currently in a polish phase, nearing the end of its development. The studio is hoping to get the game out before the end of 2018, but it already looks ready for prime time. Don't sleep on this game.

Based on what I'm reading from the article and the posts in the ResetEra thread, it sounds like this game is going to have a larger game world and more content than I initially thought. That's great news, and I can't wait to get into this game. As I've mentioned, my hype for this game has grown significantly, and I've got that feeling I'm really going to enjoy this one.

I also found a new video from Nvidia with some gameplay footage I haven't seen before:

Something I forgot to mention; the same developer from all these videos dropped a helpful piece of information recently. In another video posted a couple days ago, he said there is a setting that allows you to either:

  1. Do the full matchmaking experience (either seamlessly matched real player, or AI companion based on what's available)
  2. Set it to allow only real players (no AI)
  3. Set it to allow only AI companions (no real players)

He said that if you elect to play completely alone (no player or AI partners), that is an option too...but it will likely make the game even more difficult than Dark Souls. He said the game for the most part is balanced around having a partner, but there are some player perks that fit into the solo player experience (like unlocking two man dungeons by yourself, reviving yourself as a ghost, etc).

I've been checking periodically...but still no release date for Ashen. Fingers crossed they announce one soon!

I did find what appears to be some new gameplay. Hopefully I haven't posted a version of this video already...but I think it's fresh.

I've been waiting patiently for more Ashen news, but so far there still hasn't been much regarding a release date. According to a post here on ResetERA, it's still coming in 2018...and that will be between now and a new Xbox Conference in November.

That post says it's releasing on "GamePass," which I guess is some sort of subscription service. I don't own any consoles, so I'm not 100% on what that is or what the implications are. Hopefully it doesn't interfere with a Steam PC release around the same time!

It's almost November, Ashen Dev this game still really coming out before the end of the year? They say the answer is still yes:

Well, at least we know it will be one of the next two months!

So, maybe not 2018 after all? We've only got what...27 days left? This article seems to suggest 2019:

New-Zealand based developer Aurora44 (now A44 Games) in collaboration with Annapurna Interactive revealed a realistic action RPG, Ashen, as an Xbox console exclusive at E3 2015. The game originally scheduled to release in 2018, might have been delayed.

A44’s Twitter bio was recently changed without making any noise.

Basically, the bio said "coming out in 2018" before, and now they've removed that text.

Replying to a user who asked for the release date, A44 Games wrote, “Unfortunately all we can say for now is 2018! Not many months left in the year”.

“You can find out more about Ashen in this trailer and we do not have a specific release date yet, but Ashen will be releasing in 2018 on Xbox One, PC and it will be on Xbox Game Pass at launch”, A44 Games wrote in another tweet.

Presumably, the development hasn’t reached the final stages and we’re possibly a few more months away from Ashen’s release. But here’s a catch. At X018, Microsoft said that they’ll be launching many new indie titles with “Winter of Arcade” and there will be a Winter of Arcade trailer at The Game Awards with a release date. December’s still waiting with the Christmas surprises. Let’s hope for the best.

And...surprise! Ashen is out now! Only on limited platforms so far...not Steam, which is where I would buy it. But that's pretty awesome.

It's getting solid reviews so far:

"Recommended - A moody, well-wrought action role-player with striking, desolate landscapes and a couple of great dungeons."

Well, this is a real disappointment if true. Rumor is that Ashen is going to be an Epic store exclusive for an entire year. So no Steam release until the end of 2019.


If you're not familiar with Epic, they are the company responsible for one of the most popular games on the planet, Fortnite. So, from what I've read, Epic's game launcher is basically Fortnite plus a bunch of exclusives they bought. And Epic is owned by Tencent, a Chinese company that has experienced some criticism for their focus on loot box, cash shop, and other semi-gambling elements.

A big issue being brought up on Steam forums is that gamers who purchased Ashen on Epic are using the Steam forums for bug reports and to talk about stuff related to the game. So, even though it apparently won't be out on Steam for another 12 months, Epic is leaning on Steam's more complete launcher and community. I definitely see why people are irritated.

I was extremely excited about Ashen. I still am, especially after all the positive buzz it's gotten. But I probably won't buy it until it comes out on Steam. I have bitten the bullet on a few games, because I knew they'd never be released on Steam (downloading Origin to play Dragon Age Inquisition comes to mind). But I still prefer to buy things on Steam when I can, because my library is so established there. I guess I've got some waiting to do!