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Where this system falls apart, is when your enemies have just a couple of fighters left. This allows them to act a lot more often and down a couple of your characters as their final act of defiance. And when one of them falls in battle, they get a wound. Upon getting four of those, they die for good.
Thankfully, while the game's story boasts its roguelike roots, you can replay the combat encounters until you get them right, making those needless casualties less annoying than they otherwise would have been.
The combat itself features a risk/reward system where your units can expend either their Energy or their Health in order to use their more powerful abilities. When a unit has no more Energy left, it takes double damage. And when its Health hits zero, the unit gets downed for the remainder of the fight.
With a wide selection of unique character classes, plenty of enemy variety, and basic leveling and inventory systems, Ash of Gods' combat is quite an enjoyable addition to the game's narrative.
I do have some minor gripes with it. Apart from the abovementioned turn order shenanigans, there's also a rather generous turn timer. It goes from about five minutes per turn to slightly under a minute as the game progresses. What's it doing in a single-player game is anybody's guess.
And then, there's the CCG aspect. Most of the cards you can get your hands on are extremely underwhelming, on top of requiring an entire turn to use. Playing them is rarely practical, and with a few exceptions, I only touched them when I wanted to skip a turn and let the enemies come closer.
Overall, though, I found myself enjoying Ash of Gods' combat with its variety and flexibility quite a bit and if you're not averse to turn-based systems with alternating turns, you might enjoy it as well. And if you'd like to test your skills against human opponents, there's always the online multiplayer.
Ash of Gods uses the Unity engine, but it's extremely well optimized. It runs exceptionally well, doesn't hog a lot of resources for a change, and loads pretty fast. The options menu is quite basic, but it does have three different animation speed options, which is always nice to have.
The game offers two difficulty modes, Classic and Story. The latter allows you to skip most of the combat if you don't like it or find it too hard. Personally, I thought the game was easy enough on Classic, so go for Story only if you don't enjoy turn-based battles.
The art and animations are simply a joy to look at. The music is not far behind, with limited voice acting adding some flavor at the start of every chapter.
The game didn't crash on me once and I haven't encountered any major issues or bugs. There were some minor visual glitches during scene transitions but that's about it.
With great visuals, nuanced tactical combat, a compelling story, and an incentive to play through the game multiple times in pursuit of the perfect ending, Ash of Gods is a great entry in the burgeoning narrative RPG genre. While on the surface it's a shameless copy of The Banner Saga, in reality Ash of Gods adds plenty of unique elements to Stoic's formula and stands perfectly fine on its own, without the need to be propped up by the cliched “if you liked The Banner Saga, you will like this” endorsement.
While the game has its share of problems, it manages to provide an enjoyable and memorable experience despite them. And if the developers manage to overcome their shortcomings, their next game could end up being quite spectacular.
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