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Ashwalkers is an inventive survival sim that puts the story centre stage. Whilst managing resources and the survivor's physical and mental health is important, the choices you have to make are where it's at its most inventive.
Ashwalkers feels like several games in one, incorporating various unique gameplay elements pulled from the survival and choose-your-own-adventure genres. But where this may seem like cause for concern, it expertly brings them together to create a special experience unlike anything else. My time with Ashwalkers was brief, but enough to leave a lasting impression that has me yearning to go back and play it all again.
When you're advertising 34 different endings, your survival journey needs to be survivable. But Ashwalkers rarely made me feel like my survival was on the line. I was hungry for more human interactions between squad members. But the bulk of the writing is saved for the badge-ridden hall of fame at the end of this post-apocalyptic Oregon Trail.
The gameplay may be a simple run-of-the-mill survival design but the beautiful art style and the non-linear storytelling with its melancholic atmosphere make Ashwalkers a very enticing proposition.
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In the end, Ashwalkers is a decent game. It’s simple in nature and there’s a nice reason why. This is a storytelling game above all else. It does a decent job here and offers up some different play styles when it comes to choosing the story the player wants to see. It’s not going to knock anyone’s socks off, but I did enjoy my time with the game even if it did have a few moments where it frustrated me. This one is for the story fans. Not actually the survival players. If you’re looking for a choice driven game, you’ll get it here. If you’re looking for a post-apocalyptic survival game, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
As it stands after a first completed expedition I had no desire to try another. The characters stay the same and the management element never adds new twists. The end screen for each playthrough shows quite a few possible conclusions to work towards but the world never feels interesting enough to try and get them all. Unless you truly love slow, moody stories and choice-focused titles avoid Ashwalkers unless updates deliver a tighter, faster version of the experience.
Seeing it through the prism of the old Oregon Trail, I enjoyed Ashwalkers and its myriad of tough, meaningful choices. Its heavy material and its dreary art style doesn't make it a game that I plan to revisit very often. I can appreciate the variety of scenarios, especially the idea that players can select different starting points after multiple playthroughs. In that sense, it's unlike a lot of survival games out today and worth playing through at least once.
Ashwalkers provides a great first impression through its atmosphere and mechanics, but each playthrough weighs on that experience. The repetitive nature of this adventure simply has you playing until you wear yourself out after so many of the different endings are similar to each other. These 2-hour game loops had me wishing for longer paths or something else because there’s a good foundation here but it’s repetitive nature ultimately leaves the adventure unfulfilling.
Ashwalkers is a rather unique take on the survival genre that relies on narrative and choice rather than outright combat. Sadly, its slow paced exploration can quickly wear out its welcome, pushing players away before they complete their journey.
While Ashwalkers has an interesting art style and atmosphere, it does little to capitalize on its survival mechanics, choice based narrative, and is far too easy for what it wants to be. While Ashwalkers may be worth a single playthrough, there's not much to motivate repeat visits to this wasteland.
The core game of Ashwalkers is a great, atmospheric experience that takes classics like The Oregon Trail and transports them to a vividly realised post-apocalyptic setting. Characters are nicely defined, resource management is clearly presented, and I genuinely wanted to find out more about the world and its inhabitants. However, the actual process of playing the game is just too slow and becomes boring after the first couple of runs. There is a good survival and choice-filled game here, but you have to walk a long long way to get to it.
As it stands I finished the game without a lot of desire to repeat the journey to flesh out the many endings (34 in total). Because while there are enjoyable moments, it’s spread across a sparse and long hallway to move through. Ashwalkers has the bones of some good ideas. I’m hoping to see more from this studio as there are unique things to be found here, Nameless XIII just never really hits their mark. There are plenty of walking simulators out there that make you forget what they are. Ashwalkers, unfortunately, is not one of them.
Ashwalkers is still a fascinating little narrative experience. There's an interesting and at times surprisingly uplifting world to explore, and it's worth playing through the game multiple times to see where its branching pathways lead. That said, its brevity means that there's not quite enough meat on the bones to really envelop anyone in its atmosphere, which could leave some explorers wanting more.
Ashwalkers flaunts a system of choices, which only matter as a means to an end. The gameplay tends to be repetitive, and the story rarely strays from being formulaic and familiar. Despite all this, the environments are fairly unique and the run time is mercifully short.