Ash of Gods is a new tactical RPG from Russian developers Aurum Dust. The first half of the game is called Redemption and is set to launch in only a few months. We had a chance to test out a short, 90-minute demo of the game to get a taste of what Ash of Gods has to offer.
The game is set hundreds of years after the last Reaping, and the world of Terminum is about to be plunged into chaos once again with the next one. What will become of Terminum is entirely in the player’s hands. Aurum Dust refers to Ash of Gods as having a rogue-like story. There are multiple endings to the story based on player choices, and the game will continue even if a hero dies. The demo sets the stage for a grim world full of death, destruction, and hard choices. Don’t let the Disney-inspired graphics fool you, this is a game meant for adults. So far, the writing is excellent. The dialogue is enjoyable, and the world is fascinating. I really like the fact the game has an icon to let players know when they are about to make a choice that will affect the story in the future and will grey out previously selected conversation choices, ensuring players will get a chance to discover new storylines with each playthrough.
Ash of Gods is a tactical RPG with some card mechanics thrown in. Each player takes a turn issuing commands to a character and cannot issue a second set of commands to the same character until all characters in the party have moved. Alternatively, players can play a card from their deck, triggering a variety of special effects. Once every character on a team has completed a turn, the round ends. More powerful cards require a certain number of rounds to end before they can be played. Each character has a health and energy pool. Special attacks can require health and/or energy to use. Energy is also used for moving a few extra spaces per turn; however, it comes at a price as running out of energy means any future damage to the energy pool will cause double health damage. Players can choose to target health or energy, adding an interesting level of complexity to the game’s strategy. Losing all health in combat will result in the character being knocked out and sustaining injuries that will carry forward to future battles.
The short demo did not give me any opportunity to check out the item system in depth, but I did get a chance to peek at the leveling system. While some of the tool tips still need to be translated from Russian, each character has many purchasable upgrades. Combined with the already diverse set of classes available at the start of the game, I expect most players will be able to build a party that will work well for their play style.
The world outside of combat is presented as an interactive fiction. In the local areas, there are people to chat with and consequences can range from a change in loyalty to long lasting effects down the road. Players move around the world map at the cost of strix, which limit options and can eventually put players in difficult situations, which makes things looking a bit like a game of Oregon Trail.
Ash of Gods control scheme is simple. While the demo didn’t provide the most comprehensive tutorial, I was able to figure out the rest after completing two battles. The game can be controlled with a mouse and keyboard or just a mouse.
Obviously, it’s hard to talk about Ash of Gods without discussing its captivating graphics. Aurum Dust says their art is inspired by Disney, Ralph Bakshi (Wizards), and Soyuzmultfilm, often known as the Soviet Union’s answer to Disney. Based on the demo, I say Aurum Dust has done their inspirations proud. The animation quality is top notch. The combat movement looks smooth and natural. The art style is fantastic. It channels the old 2D animated look beautifully, which is sure to make older gamers nostalgic for the days before Pixar turned the entire animation world on its head with Toy Story. At the same time, the grim and violent world allows Aurum Dust to carve out its own little niche.
The audio in Ash of Gods is solid so far. The music is enjoyable, and the sound effects are good. It’s a huge shame that the game isn’t fully voice acted, though it is on the developer’s wish list for the second half of the Ash of Gods series.
Aurum Dust has put together a game that may be the complete package, combining solid gameplay with astounding presentation. The end of the 90-minute demo came way too soon for me, and I am looking forward to seeing what Ash of Gods: Redemption has in store for the world in March.