Back in 2019, Gunfire Games created a game that’s unlike most other Souls-like we’ve seen so far. Dubbed Dark Souls with guns, Remnant: From the Ashes successfully married Souls-like movement and gunplay in ways none of us expected. And it was only the beginning. Fast forward to today, and Remnant 2 has become quite a fan favorite due to it strictly following the precedent set by Remnant: From the Ashes. But the question we ask now is whether there is enough here to call yourself a true sequel to the Remnant game.
Remnant 2 is a direct sequel to Remnant: From the Ashes. The game takes place some 20-odd years after the events of the first game. The Root have finally been pushed back but they have yet to be removed from the gameboard. Instead, they continue taking over worlds in the hope of someday finding a new way back to Earth to finish what they started. It is now up to a new generation of Travelers to venture forth and put an end to the threat once and for all.
Players start the game by creating an avatar of their choice. The customization feature isn’t as robust compared to other games but at the very least you are discouraged from creating cosmetic abominations that are the source of many funny cutscene compilation videos. After a brief introduction to Ward 13 and its characters, your “Traveler” will be thrown to the wolves where a journey spanning multiple worlds and dozens of possible outcomes await you.
If you’ve ever played Remnant: From the Ashes, the gameplay is going to be very familiar to you, albeit with a few noteworthy changes here and there. Run and gun is the name of the game here and your Traveler is going to have to use every Skill and Mod at their disposal to stay alive. Luckily for us, the loot pool this time around dwarfs that of the first game. Not only are there dozens of weapons to collect but more than a hundred accessories to find as well. And for the first time ever, we have options when it comes to our Dragon Heart relic. We can use a different relic that perfectly fits our unique playstyle.
The difficulty is just as brutal as it was before. Maybe closer in terms of the DLC from the first game. You can’t exactly make a tanky build unless you’re willing to make concessions when it comes to your dodge rolls. And even then, you’re not really that tanky. A group of mobs will still shred you no matter how much armor you slap on. Your ability to react correctly to any given situation is the determining factor of your survival.
Bosses in Remnant 2 are more complex than you would expect from a game where you just point and shoot. Take the Labyrinth Sentinel, for example. Two parts gauntlet run and one part actual shooting, this boss takes puzzle solving to another level. The Sentinel breaks apart into smaller cubes and these bits are indestructible save for a glowing weakspot. You need to navigate a maze-like structure in order and destroy all the glowing parts that you encounter. All the while staying one step ahead of clockwork cubes ready to squish you into jelly.
And that’s just one example of some of the unique puzzles disguising themselves as clever boss fights. There are plenty of straight-up battles to the death, for sure. But their mere existence is additive to the series and goes to show that Gunfire games still have more tricks up their collective sleeves.
Secrets in Remnant 2 are as important to the series as its take on procedural generation. I’ve come to know over time that nothing is what it appears to be on the surface. Nothing is just “there” by accident. It is somehow part of a larger design that we haven’t caught on yet. This is what I constantly felt when hunting down all the secret accessories the game tries so hard to keep under wraps.
It’s all the more obvious when it comes to the alternate world boss rewards. The amount of time I spent trying to kill a boss in a specific way was unbelievable. There were even times when I felt like it was nearly impossible. But the feeling of accomplishment I felt after getting all the weapons was on par with any Legend enemy felled in Elden Ring.
While we’re on the topic of secrets, let’s talk about a little something about the classes in Remnant 2. You start the game as one of four classes starting classes. The other starters can be bought from vendors in Ward 13. The rest of the 7 known classes are unlocked through various ways, with the Archon class taking the cake with how it took an entire community to find out as quickly as they did.
Everything from the story campaign and the individual world created in Adventure Mode is a product of the game’s impressive procedural generation. Most worlds look the same but the arrangement is almost completely different every single time. Of course, the main areas remain untouched but everything else is subject to the whims of the algorithm. And this is where the game’s first major fault becomes apparent.
Because the game relies so much on procedural generation, it’s really hard to form a coherent story that doesn’t rely on a vague premise to fill in the gaps. Individually, the stories are interesting. But eventually, you can’t help but feel like all events are strung along with the loosest of strings. It’s not a deal breaker by any means but it is worth noting. It’s the same as when the first game came out, and it took DLC for everything to come together in a meaningful way.
It’s not to say that the current ending is lacking or anything but we all know there’s more to this story. Especially when Founder Ford and his mysterious friend are still unaccounted for.
Remnant 2, as polished of a product as it was on launch, still has bugs that need to be addressed. Right now, there are visual bugs where some effects don’t render on screen properly. Anyone with a Fire build can attest to the invisible flames. There are also instances when loot doesn’t appear where it should be, requiring the player to reroll the campaign by no choice of their own. I’ve actually had this happen a couple of times during the first two weeks of release. I don’t know if it’s still the case but I imagine it’s still an ongoing issue.
When it comes to the sounds and visuals, it’s on a different level compared to the first game. Everything looks sharper and the sounds are clearer. But more than anything else, I love the various throwbacks to the previous game. The makeshift town above Ward 13 is a leap ahead of that bunker we used to reside in but still retains elements of that old-world charm. The world of Yaesha has never looked better or deadlier. Some of the weapons from the first game have even made their way to this game with a different name.
Listening to Mudtooth’s stories is akin to reliving the events from the first game through the eyes of an old man who has seen it all and more. I know it’s supposed to be a requirement for unlocking the Gunslinger class, but I was just too entertained with the stories to even dare skip a single voice line.
Remnant 2 is the closest thing to a perfect sequel as far as video games are concerned. It strikes that delicate balance of remaining faithful to the game that came before it while branching out in hopes of not being called a DLC for the game before. If you have played and loved the first Remnant game, you owe it to yourself to experience Remnant 2 sometime in the near future.