Remnant II is a third-person co-op shooter from Gunfire Games and is actually the third title in a series including Chronos and the previous Remnant: From the Ashes. Remnant II builds upon its formula of fusing recursive elements with solid gunplay and bolsters its replayability with generated maps and modular boss encounters.
You play as a nameless character called the Traveler who seeks out Ward 13, where whispers claim a town of people fought back the world-ending threat of the Root, a tree-like race that twists and eradicates life like a virus. After being rescued and taken in by some of Ward 13’s citizens, you learn that the Root invaded our planet thanks to the now dormant world stone and later watch as the Ward’s founder, Ford, reawakens that stone for literal shits and giggles. Ford’s actions get your recent savior Clementine pulled in as well, and as the hero you are, you naturally give chase to save her.
The Remnant plot at this stage is quite lengthy and very confusing, but I’ve always enjoyed its mix of dark sci-fi and fantasy, using the interdimensional world stones to pack as many different settings into its stories as it wants to. The core plot involving your character and others from Ward 13 is far less interesting than the situations you stumble into traversing the other realms in search for Clementine.
My favorite situation involved the murder of a tyrant Fairy King that asks you to investigate and accuse one of his three most trusted counselors in order to break their deadlock. I pored over every note or book I found in levels as the excellent writing was a constant source of intrigue. Character dialogue was no different, and paired with awesome voice performances, several otherworldly beings left lasting impressions on me. The fact that many of these character interactions can vary based on your responses begs for additional playthroughs, and luckily Remnant II’s gameplay loop is designed for exactly that.
The shooting and melee combat feel great, and the game’s pool of weaponry and stat-altering trinkets feel quite intimate as every special weapon you come across is crafted from the spoils of a boss or mini-boss victory. Mods for those weapons can also be crafted from boss drops, and these can add a special power to any weapon with an open slot, like igniting your bullets on fire or dropping ethereal swords on all marked enemies. You will also select a class at the start, giving you access to special abilities like the Medic’s healing pool or the Handler’s dog sidekick, with the chance to multi-class after finding and turning in certain special items. Without running down the full list, there are options for long-range and up-close-and-personal play with fun powers that can synergize with your co-op partners.
You’ll want that help as Remnant II can get frustrating at times, but I’d still rank it as one of the more accessible experiences in the genre that pushes back just enough to stay interesting. It can sometimes fall into lulls in its generated maps that have you fighting a zone’s same four-to-five enemy types as you search for the single path forward, but it works more often than not as some environments offer up some really fun surprises like an area that was a clear homage to FromSoft’s Bloodborne. Boss battles are generally unique challenges, but some are true standouts that were some of the most fun encounters I’ve had in a long while.
Visually, the art direction for environments and creatures, particularly the different NPCs you meet, was often arresting, leaving human locales and characters looking downright mundane in comparison. The sparse music works where it’s applied, but you’re treated primarily to unsettling ambiance as you explore — and sound cues that warn of impending danger became a lifeline that I greatly appreciated.
Remnant II is very simply more of the same. I can’t point to any drastic changes or improvements to its design that separate it significantly from its predecessor, but as only the second of its kind, it’s still a unique and enjoyable take on the genre that is a blast to play. Remnant II is out now for $49.99 on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X | S.
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