Top Critic Average
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.
Ashwalkers tells an open-ended story the right way, mixing equal parts agency and powerlessness, hope and despair.
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.