Aurora44, a studio based out of New Zealand, is developing a promising action RPG called Ashen.
The Setting of Ashen:
The world of Ashen is one where the sun is blocked out of the sky by volcanic ash, as a result of multiple eruptions. As a lone wanderer, you set out to explore the barren landscape, looking for a place to call home.
The game revolves around an open-world, multiplayer sandbox focusing on survival and exploration, similar in style to Rust or DayZ. You will run into other players, with the opportunity to either cooperate or fight against them. Naturally, combat is part of the gameplay, and you will have to do battle with enemies such as bandits and mysterious creatures. The developer emphasizes that not all battles should be fought, and that part of the survival element to the game is knowing when to fight and when to run.
The concept art and early game images give off a Shadow of the Colossus/ICO feel. Those games had an incredible aesthetic built around isolation and foreboding environments, and so I’m glad to see a new game explore those themes.
I am curious as to the direction the developers will take the game. Will it be optimistic? Funny? Dark? The setting reminds me of The Road, and I feel like the aesthetic lends itself towards something darker, but I feel like that is already well-tread by other games.
The genre of open-world, survival multiplayer has a tendency to devolve into a rather lawless, almost antagonistic community and playstyle. Games like DayZ do not feel so much like you versus the environment, as it is you against other people, whose setting just so happens to be in a post-apocalyptic world.
I feel like Ashen, with such incredible aesthetics so far, is a promising prospect in bringing back “the world” as an antagonist against the survivors that live on it. “Survival” should not be so focused on just surviving your interaction with other players, but on being able to make a life in a harsh environment.
The game has been in development since 2013, so it may still have a way to go before release, but from what Aurora44 has shown so far, it might be worth waiting for.