At Eurogamer – your friend site today and always – we are as admirers as any other video game pioneer. From Kojima to Miyamoto, through Carmack, Miyazaki or Mikami, unforgettable sagas, mythical characters and even entire genres have been built on gigantic shoulders. It is therefore inevitable that these and many other names will go down in video gaming history with golden letters for their own merits. The contribution of all these titans is undeniable, there’s no doubt about that, but titles pop up from time to time that remind us of these unremarkable creators who, with as much enthusiasm as cheekiness, have given us unforgettable afternoons. Developers who saw only a challenge wherever the medium presented a limit. A challenge that consisted of making the same type of game … but with weapons. The exact origin of this masterful idea may be lost forever, but the examples are numerous and varied. Borderlands is a “devil with guns” in first-person, The Division is the same but with third-person and covers, and Fallout 3 – and its subsequent installments – ditched overhead to follow in the footsteps of Enter to kick Oblivion and allow close range shots.
To that remarkable list today we must add Remnant II, the weaponized Soulslike.
Developed by Gunfire Games and published by Gearbox, Remnant II is the long-awaited sequel to Remnant: From The Ashes, a title of modest means that has garnered both a well-deserved cult status and a large following thanks to a good handful of ideas that were implemented more than in a solution-oriented manner. But that was in 2019. What’s on our minds in 2023 is the latest addition to a universe that, beware, already spans three titles.
And what an extension. If Remnant: From The Ashes — hereafter, and for language economy sake, Remnant I — laid the groundwork for his proposal — one we previously dubbed “Gun-Souled” — Remnant II only strengthens it and gives it more depth.
Depth that he, like us, lacks in his story. Almost immediately, Remnant II takes us back to the post-apocalyptic Earth devastated by the Roots, a species of invading plague that almost wiped out humanity – as we saw in the first part – and which has now expanded the reach of their ambition: the Corruption The multiverse is their ultimate goal and through coincidences that are very common in the world of video games, we will be in charge of stopping them. To achieve this, we will arm ourselves to the teeth, we will rise up against all odds as often as necessary, and we will pursue them in any world where they dare come across as corrupt. An ordinary day in the tiring – but adventurous – existence of the average Soulslikes player.
But, of course, it will be difficult for us to complete such a challenge if we do not have the means to get from our beloved – albeit somewhat devastated – Blue Planet to those far-off worlds threatened by the Roots. Fortunately, in the center of battered Base 13 – our center of operations – the Worldstone will hover ominously. A joyful memory for veterans and an awe-inspiring presence for those who have just learned about the saga, this imposing and mysterious object will be the primary mode of transport between worlds ravaged by Root corruption and a Base 13 representing the Remnant Link II reinforced with its reference genre will serve as a link that could well be that of any Soul. That is, with less sword and sorcery and a lot more collapse of western civilization. Either way, merchants, gunsmiths, and obscure mechanics coexist in an area that will require some exploration, cooperation, and a curious eye to uncover its mysteries.
This maintains a formula established years ago by Demon’s Souls, which logically extends to the rest of the locations we’ll visit throughout our journey. Now, Remnant II presents a much more immediate and haunting proposition than the rest of its genre companions. From the moment our boots hit the ground and the bullets land in the chambers, Remnant II confronts us with systems that soon make us realize they have only the essentials in common with From Software’s works. It’s not surprising, therefore, that there are quality of life improvements – sprinting doesn’t deplete our energy bar unless we’re in the middle of a fight – or that progression in levels isn’t based on the monolithic investment of a negotiation chip for whatever applies No, Remnant II relies heavily on the severity of its fights, on the fact that our weapons spit hot lead left and right and that the enemies hit hard.
And boy, do they? In Remnant II, death is just a few blows away. Even on the lowest difficulty levels. So it doesn’t matter that our experience accumulates from defeat to defeat, because we must be constantly on the lookout for enemies who, unlike the classics of the genre, do not limit themselves to guarding their posts with spartan discipline. At the slightest sign of unrest – that is, detonations, presence, and gunfire all around them – they will join the fray to exponentially increase our problems. And that’s if they don’t blend in with the environment or look for a way to make us the enveloping maneuver, the very smart ones. Which inevitably leads to the bittersweet backwaters that are the final bosses. The sour side, of course, in this case is marked by an inexhaustible display of punches, usually accompanied by a good handful of minions when they realize the fight is coming our way. On the other hand, the sweetness is provided by some competent designs, backed by some other mechanics that go beyond just exchanging slaps in the face. While fulfilling their role, it should be noted, however, that none of them quite match the splendor of Miyazaki’s classics, a mix that conjures up decadence, regal poise, surprise, or an inevitable conflict of wills as the need arises.
So it’s clear that Remnant II’s chests aren’t located in the bosses, one of the traditional pinnacles of the genre. On the other hand, to make it clear that they all fulfill their role with solvency, the strength of this title lies in the multitude of possibilities that we will have to face the not few challenges that Remnant II will present us before. Starting from the base of an initial classic archetype – even if these have somewhat bizarre names except for the Doctor – we can always jump to more advanced classes – like the Archon – or level up until we can combine two different archetypes and benefit from the abilities and benefits of each class. All this of course if we are able to find the insignia that will allow us to access the archetype that harmonizes so well with the archetype that we already have. As the saying goes, the first will be free and for the rest we must find our lives. And some are very, very hard to find without help. The same goes for the wide range of weapons, amulets, rings and modifications that we can add to our arsenal. From the traditional ballistics offered to us at the beginning of the adventure – with rifles, pistols and machine guns for every taste – to the wildest inventions that we create with the remains of our fallen enemies, all will share the ammunition – yes too though it might not seem like it, this Red Dead Redemption-looking rifle and this laser-firing device use the same box of ammo – and the same purpose: to destroy our enemies, to see them destroyed and to hear their scream Allies .
And while I could continue to delve line-by-line into how each point we get as we level up is allocated – everyone has their preferences – the fact that their scenarios are full of optional areas, or the fact that we’re playing their campaign with In parallel adventure mode, what I really want to convey is that Remnant II is a powerful, ambitious sequel full of good ideas. Although Remnant II opts for a certain simplicity in order to achieve a more than necessary immediacy due to the measures included in its proposal, Remnant II does not confuse simplicity with simplicity. The many ways to build our character, the severity of its struggles or the rich content that hides behind the walls of its locations make it an easy task to recommend this title to those who have enjoyed the first part or who are looking for it For a title that is tough and repeatable. However, it should be noted that while there are few edges, there are certain. A sluggish framerate when on-screen population density is high, or a boss whose design borders on the offensive are details that make a group bordering on the eminently ugly. But let’s not end this text on a discordant note. Let’s stick to the fact that the Remnant saga grows with every step it takes.