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What's also annoying is how the dialogue options you get to chose from can be misleading at times. Early on, the mayor asks Thorn about his business at the market. Trying to play Thorn as a reserved man of little words, I chose an evasive option, something along the lines of “just browsing.” Somehow, that led to Thorn abruptly ending the conversation and storming off.
And while I'm not familiar with Sergey Malitsky's work, a quick search tells us that he's a prolific writer with some literary awards under his belt. As such, I can not believe that the source material is the issue here. During the first few hours, the game bombards you with a shrapnel of weird-sounding proper nouns. None of these names and places mean anything to you at that point and only serve to confuse you. I just can't see an accomplished author making such an obvious “baby's first fantasy novel” mistake, so I have to assume that something must have gone wrong during the book to video game adaptation process.
My biggest piece of advice for approaching Ash of Gods is to not read too carefully. Just scan the text, get the general gist of things and move on. That way, you'll get an enjoyable story packed with intrigue, mysteries and exciting twists. Ignore this warning, and you will likely be uninstalling the game after your first session with it.
Now, on a more positive note, Ash of Gods was advertised as a game with “rogue-like storytelling.” What it initially seemed to mean, was that you could choose where your characters went and only had a single, constantly-overriding autosave slot to work with. However, that's not exactly the case.
Your short-term decisions can lead to you running out of resources and losing some of your people. Such scarcity can force you to act in a variety of unsavory ways and create a narrative you weren't intending to create when setting out on your heroic journey. As a result, the story can take wild, at times infuriating turns. And while in a 15-20 hour campaign that can cause some understandable frustration, playing a game where you have no idea what's about to happen next is a nice change of pace.
In a true roguelike fashion, it's extremely easy to fail and get a bad ending. How long your journey takes, how you interact with the various NPCs, which points of interest off the beaten path you visit, it all factors into the grand finale you'll get at the end. After finishing my playthrough and looking up the other possible outcomes, I ended up being pleasantly surprised. Things and events I thought were set in stone, in fact were anything but. The amount of moving parts in Ash of Gods is truly staggering.
Moreover, the quest line that can lead you to the good ending is actually pretty well hidden. In order to get there, you'll have to follow a set of cryptic clues and prophecies that are extremely easy to overlook. You will need to pay attention to the world map, write down clues, and piece things together yourself. With no in-game journal, Ash of Gods is very old-school that way, and pleasantly so.
The combat in Ash of Gods combines turn-based tactics with some light CCG elements. It's similar to The Banner Saga in that it uses the alternating turn order, where your unit's move is always followed by your enemy's move. However, in Ash of Gods you get to decide in which order you take those turns, which adds a nice layer of tactical consideration into the mix and encourages using smaller squads.