Ashwalkers: A Survival Journey Review
Dear Villagers and Nameless XIII came out with Ashwalkers: A Survival Journey on PC last year. It is a story of a group trekking across wastelands in hopes of finding a brighter future for their people. Along the way, they are faced with trials, opportunities, and challenges, where their decisions will affect their well-being and the outcome of their mission.
Ashwalkers does not focus on the action of the characters, but rather their choices. The player controls the Squad, comprised of four characters. Each character’s hunger, energy, warmth, and morale has to be managed. The resources they find and choices they make along the way directly affects these factors.
Visually, the game is shown mostly in black and white, with the exception of red for depicting blood and injury. On one hand, this choice makes for very bland environments, but it also keeps the player from feeling too good about the world. I mean that in a good way. It really does drive home the point that you are in a bleak and barren world.
The audio is very minimalistic. Like the visuals, the music helps set the tone of the journey the Squad has embarked on. There are no jumps or escalating effects or melodies in the music. It keeps a rather somber feeling throughout the whole game.
Ashwalkers: A Survival Journey has 34 possible endings that can be reached and many branching paths to take along the way. For these reasons, players may want to play through the game several or even dozens of times, just to see what could have happened if they made different decisions or had prepared another way. Unfortunately on Nintendo Switch, the game does suffer from a lot of issues.
An Unforgiving World
Playing through Ashwalkers multiple times to achieve different endings can take up a lot of time. Like, a lot a lot. There are long stretches of road to walk down without any encounter or resource to search and yes, it all has to be done at the speed of smell. I kind of wish there was an option to speed up the game.
The game also struggles performance-wise. It seems most of the time, the game hits 15-20 FPS. There are areas of the game that run at 30 FPS, but they are noticeably few. The objects and set pieces also pop in in jarring ways at times. If these kind of things bother you, you may want to try the game on PC, because it is still a good time.
During your playthrough, you will have to make camp to feed, warm up, and rest. There were a few glitches with the UI in the camping phase. Again, some tabs would be unresponsive at times. The inventory would also duplicate my cursor to cover multiple items. There were workarounds for these bugs, but annoying nonetheless.
The issues I listed above are not necessarily major, but some of the bugs I encountered are. I found that the controls were unresponsive shockingly often. As the Squad walks along, their warmth and hunger constantly drain, so not being able to play properly can have dire consequences.
I also found that there were several points across my playthroughs where I could no longer move. It was like there were invisible walls directly in the only path I could take. My characters lost a lot of resources backtracking over and over the same dozen steps just to make it past these points. There were also times where I would find a cache of resources, but not be able to pick them up, even with open spaces in my inventory.
For all the issues I encountered, they did not stop me from playing through the game multiple times. I wanted to see the different outcomes at the end of the game and even the different outcomes of specific decisions. Nintendo Switch might not be the best platform for the game, so you may want to try it on PC.
When starting a new game, there are options for Standard or Custom games. Custom games can start you at different stages of your journey if you feel like skipping the first area. You can also choose which types of choices your group has more advantages with. Unfortunately, calling this a “Custom” game leaves something to be desired. I wish a Custom game allowed players to modify certain attributes, like inventory space and decay rate of hunger, warmth, and energy.
Each successful run of Ashwalkers takes about two hours, so you do not have to sink in a ton of time into each playthrough. The management of the Squad is engaging, but not inherently difficult, barring any lack of resources. Ashwalkers: A Survival Journey is a chill, but engaging game with a ton of reasons to come back for more.
***Nintendo Switch code was provided by the publisher***
-Unresponsive controls at times
-Slow walking sections