Remnant 2 Is Straightforward, Explosive and Ridiculous

Games Reviews Remnant 2
Remnant 2 Is Straightforward, Explosive and Ridiculous

I reckon I have a similar experience with the Remnant series as a lot of folks: I saw a promising bit of footage years ago when the original came out and heard conversations that more or less described the game as “Dark Souls with guns,” but never actually got around to playing it. It apparently did pretty well for a small studio, though, selling over three million copies and spawning a sequel. With a solid reputation behind it, and at least a few nudges from friends and colleagues, I decided to finally jump on the bandwagon with Remnant 2, and boy howdy am I glad I did. It’s quite handily skyrocketed to become one of my favorite games of the year thanks in no small part to the fact that it knows exactly what it’s about. Its pulpy throwback sci-fi/fantasy nonsense, as well as its tight third-person shooting mechanics and modest difficulty, have made for a game I’m having a hard time putting down.

Let me tell you about N’erud, the world that completely sold me on my love for this game. When you first arrive there, shortly after a stint in a labyrinth that is ostensibly the pathway between worlds, it appears to be an abandoned futuristic society, before revealing itself to be barren wasteland—a desert surrounded by a noxious gas that makes your player character stagger and hurl. It’s only after traveling a ways into this desert that you meet The Custodian, a character trying to right the course of N’erud, which turns out to be one giant ship, in light of the demise of its people, the Dryzyr. And so you go about finding the keys that’ll lead you to The Core, which will give control of N’erud over to The Custodian to finish what the Dryzyr started: piloting this world/ship into a black hole for… some reason.

I won’t pretend to understand a lot of the finer details of what’s going on in Remnant 2, partially due to the fact that I’m mostly just hooked on the game’s exceptional loop but also due to the fact that it’s jargon-y and filled with my favorite shit: proper nouns. But I do unambiguously love what’s going on in Remnant 2 because it feels schlocky. It’s not bad, or at least I don’t understand it enough to be bad, but it is completely full of itself in this way that side steps cringiness and embraces a sort of sincerity that I adore. Remnant 2 loves its fiction and earnestly lives it and that makes it such a confident game. Its anachronistic low tech weaponry—thanks to an apocalypse on Earth due to some interdimensional evil plant thing called The Root?—in multiple dark fantasy and sci-fi settings reminds me of many of my favorite weapons from Destiny, which predate the boom in technology that propelled humanity to its Golden and subsequent Dark Age you find yourself in. Countless of Remnant 2‘s biomes feel ripped out of the covers of old sci-fi/fantasy novels I found in the decrepit and neglected corners of libraries I grew up in. As I clambered through underground factories and other industrious settings beneath and above N’erud’s surface in a duster with a beat up old rifle and a dog at my side, I couldn’t help but think of how succinctly and gracefully it mashes up vintage influences like I Am Legend and Aliens to a satisfying degree, making for a modern game that is legitimately old school cool.

Remnant II

All the while, Remnant 2 never really lets up on the gas. From the moment you start the game, the action’s straightforward and explosive. While likened often to Dark Souls—a sentiment I sometimes get in regards to structure and less so when it comes to the game’s actual difficulty—playing Remnant 2 is not nearly as contemplative or deliberate. You run through branching, procedurally-generated levels across various worlds, like Yaesha’s hostile jungle or Losomn’s dark medieval trappings, blasting or ripping enemies apart with a mixture of ranged and close-quarters weaponry until you dive into more tailored dungeons that largely consist of the same thing, though the latter are bookended by occasionally cool bosses. You get abilities granted to you by your class or by crafting weapon mods that round out your toolset, like a grenade launcher skill you get early on that has stuck with me. Staying still is almost always out of the question, as enemies tend to come in swarms that force you to dial in as you fluidly bob and weave everything from projectiles to brutes. The second I’d run low on ammo, the game knew to flood me with more and avoid any dry spell of farming resources. The game runs like a well oiled, nonstop machine.

Because of that, Remnant 2‘s a great game to put on and just blast through several hours. Though its riveting and lore-dense dialogue made me want to tune in, I’m sure you can even turn down the master volume, throw on a podcast and just vibe to the game. Its RPG-lite features—a series of passive attributes that you can incrementally upgrade by accruing trait points in the world and leveling up—ensure that the systemic part of the game is never too overwhelming, and its gear, inventory and crafting menus and economies are similarly straightforward, too, even if they aren’t terribly noteworthy. Remnant 2 gives you scarce “hard” objectives and quests, instead letting you explore its winding worlds filled with optional side content, bosses and puzzles at your leisure and occasional behest. This makes the game promising to play with friends, a prospect I’m deeply looking forward to and feel like I’ll enjoy thanks to the game’s accompanying branching dialogue and story. Though I’ve yet to see the fruits of these differing outcomes, and don’t expect them to be too crazy, it’s an admittedly appealing proverbial carrot on a stick to experience different classes operating in tandem in somewhat entirely unique campaigns

Remnant 2 feels, aside from technical issues I encountered in my review period, nigh unstoppable. There is no excess to trim here; it’s a lean and exceptionally solid game that knows what it does best (impeccable vintage sci-fi vibes and decently challenging encounters) and doubles down on that. Its procedurally generated levels rarely bore, neatly shuttling you from encounter to encounter with the promise of loot and resources around virtually every corner. These proc-gen levels sit nicely alongside the game’s tailored dungeons and boss encounters, which represent the pinnacle of an otherwise wonderfully kinetic combat experience. It’s even fine-tuned to multiple playthroughs thanks to a bevy of classes, branching dialogues, and a host of other features (like rerolling campaigns and difficulties) that I’m sure will keep me coming back. Remnant 2‘s just kind of got all the trappings necessary for me to keep sitting down for hours on end and drown the rest of the noise out in its cacophony of demon/robot/fae/rock-monster/evil village-slaying goodness.

Remnant 2 is developed by Gunfire Games and published by Gearbox. Our review is based on the PC version. It is also available on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.

Moises Taveras is the assistant games editor for Paste Magazine. He was that one kid who was really excited about Google+ and is still sad about how that turned out.


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