By Michael "Magic Mike" Dumee on April 20, 2021
Sometimes a gaming gem crosses your path, without you having noticed the game before. That's exactly what happened to me with a game called Ashwalkers. Our DumeeGamer.com HQ asked me if I was interested in reviewing this game and the trailer was impressive, so I responded with an unequivocal YES!
Ashwalkers tell the story of an outfit called the Third Squad, which is currently looking for the Dome of Domes. Now, we don't really know what happened to the first and second squads, but I'm guessing it wasn't anything nice. So it's up to the Third Squad to handle this business and kick some serious behind! The squad is made up out of four characters: Petra, Sinh Kali and Nadir. Each squad member has specialty that helps them survive the dangerous environments they'll come across. Petra is the captain, Sinh the warrior, Kali the diplomat and Nadir is the scout.
This Third Squad is the last hope for survival. The team managed to make it 13 days without my supervision, but from now on, they need my help and guidance. We start on Day 13 and the location is the Ashplains. This means that the whole worlds around me is designed in what I like to call fifty shades of grey. We walk around in the Ashplains for a bit and collect some resources (wood in this case) and also learn that shiny spots give more information when you interact with them. Soon the team arrives at the first beacon and you are informed that you'll have to decide on a strategy to reach the second beacon.
The goal of the game is to reach the Dome of Domes as a team. You basically walk, receive story updates, make a choices and walk a bit further in order to progress the story. While walking the team members will lose energy, body points and they get hungry, so you'll need plenty of rest, food and drink if you want to stand even a snowball's chance in hell at surviving this ordeal. The game features different types of weather, as well as a day and night cycle. These things can seriously influence the body temperature of the team members, so that's also something you need to keep an eye on.
Soon after I left the safety of the first beacon, a wolf is ready to attack the squad. This is the moment for you to make a choice:
I chose Intelligence, and as a result the wolf was scared and wanted to run away. Petra killed the wolf with one strike. So, I lost wood, but found meat which, under the circumstances, is never a bad thing. The inventory is shared by the whole team, so think before you hand out items for use to one of your team, because another character may have more need of it.
The whole game is set in a beautiful black/ white, greyish art style, with splashes of red when members of the squad are injured. This can happen as a result of your choices and you can heal team members with resources like a medkit. If you want to patch up team members or eat, warm up and rest you'll need to set camp. You can do this at any time in the game, but don't think for a minute that setting up a camp makes you automatically safe in any way. There is an option to let one of your members guard the camp, which can make things marginally safer. So yes, danger lurks everywhere and things can harm you wherever you are, even in a camp. The camp is a nice way to give your team members some much needed rest and sustenance. Plus, you can also talk and explore while in a camp, making it the perfect moment for you to think about your strategy and plan ahead accordingly.
Ashwalkers is a typical "What-if" game. The choices you make really matter and have consequences and, with 34 possible endings, the replay value of Ashwalkers id really high. Death means game over, upon which you'll have to restart the entire game. I have already have tried five times up till now and have mostly learned about how I could have done things differently. The goal of the developers was to create a game that changes with each playthrough and in my opinion, they definitely managed to do just that. Ashwalkers started out as a student project of seven students and received help and mentorship of Hervé Bonin, who is co-founder of DONTNOD and co-creator of Life Is Strange. For Ashwalkers, he acted as a producer and mentor for the student development team. I like to share a statement of Hervé, because it really shows how much love and dedication there is within this team for Ashwalkers:
"After leaving Dontnod I wanted to start a new studio to work on smaller indie projects, in a more flexible environment that allowed for plenty of creative freedom. At that exact moment I met a young group of talented students with an excellent prototype. I felt their project was great and that they had the potential to transform it in a full game.
Lead creative director Matteo Gaulmier lends so much "soul" to the game already, so my mission and goal for this project was to make my young partners grow and help them realize their creative ambitions.
Seeing how the game came together, and being able to experience such a captivating vision from such a small team, makes me extremely proud".
And, as one might suspect, I couldn't have said it better myself. The game will be available on PC via several outlets for $11,99, which I believe is a very nice price for the amount of game play hours you're going to get. So join this survival journey and become an Ashwalker yourself!