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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Ashwalkers is a grim outdoor hike from Dontnod co-founder Hervé Bonin

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Nameless XIII, a new outfit from the co-founder of Life Is Strange developer Dontnod, is setting off on a long, miserable trek with its debut title Ashwalkers

Set 200 years after a volcanic cataclysm smothered the world in grey, Ashwalkers (previously titled Cendres) takes your party of explorers on a trail through the disaster-wracked wilderness to find shelter for their people. Granted, they might not make it—there are 34 different endings to discover, with each trek taking about 2 hours assuming you don’t take a surprise detour into an untimely end.

Along your trail, you’ll be making pit-stops into the ruins of the old world, scavenging supplies and keeping tabs on your crew’s physical and mental health. Your party is a motley crew of soldiers, scholars, and scouts, each packing their own baggage, hopes and insecurities, and with development headed up by Dontnod co-founder Hervé Bonin, there should be some strong narrative stakes at play. Relationships form, tensions come to a head, and there’s no guarantee you’ll arrive at your destination the best buds you set out as.

It helps that the climate in this world looks absolutely rancid. While Ashwalkers’ visuals come across as a desaturated Borderlands (complete with harsh pen-drawn shadows and character outlines), the trailer shows us sweeping sandstorms, harsh rainfall, and terrifying flashes of lightning grazing our party. Sounds like your average December forecast up here in Scotland, but at least our heroes are dressed for it. 

I do love to wander a good dismal wasteland in my games (shoutout to anyone else whose favourite Warcraft zone was Silithus), and the challenge of keeping a desperate fellowship together through it is pretty enticing. Ashwalkers will let us tiptoe into the wastes with a demo at next week’s Steam Spring Festival, ahead of its ultimate release on Steam later this year.

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