Calling Ash of Gods: The Way a sequel to Ash of Gods: Redemption would be doing this card-based battler a disservice.
We weren’t enamoured with Ash of Gods: Redemption when it released back in 2020. Its tactical RPG combat was clunky, and it felt like it was trying – and failing – to be like The Banner Saga. There were some things we liked about the game, though: its sumptuous art style, and fantastic soundtrack. Thankfully, those things exist in Ash of Gods: The Way. Everything else has been completely changed, making this a completely different experience. And one we’re pleased to say we’re very much enjoying.
Gone are Redemption‘s fiddly tactical turn-based battles. Instead, Ash of Gods: The Way is a card-based brawler. Each turn you can play one unit card and one equipment card – adding a fighter to the field, and equipping one existing fighter with a useful buff. Units come in different shapes and sizes, and as you play you’ll gain access to new factions with new abilities. But to start out you’ll have ranged attackers in the form of archers, heavy-hitting brawler types, and more nimble, rounded warriors. In terms of equipment cards, you can temporarily buff everyone’s attack, permanently raise the health of one unit, and more.
Ash of Gods: The Way isn’t as narrative-heavy as its predecessor, but there are still story scenes to enjoy, brought to life with gorgeous hand-drawn art and flawless voice acting. This really is a beautiful-looking game. Almost too beautiful, in fact, as the detail in the environments can distract from the flow of battle. Playing out on a grid, your units will move in from the left, while your opponent begins on the right. Meeting in the middle, you’ll attack each other – with each unit having two or three numbers above their heads: their damage, their health and, if they have one, their shield.
As such, you’ll need to play close attention to both your units and your opponents’ units to make sure your team is positioned as well as possible. Units will only attack units directly in front of them, and so if an enemy’s attack is larger than the health of your unit in front of them, you’ll want to reposition them. Be careful, though. The ultimate goal is to destroy the leader at the back of the moving units. You’ll need to reach your opponent’s – and ensure their units don’t get to yours.
The combat here is easy to pick up, but it’s hard to master. It takes careful thought – and often trial and error to beat more difficult enemies. It’s refreshing to play this type of game in a non-roguelike form: if you fail, you can simply try again. Maybe you’ll want to reassess which units you have in your hand: as you play, you’ll unlock more, so it’s wise to revisit your loadout regularly. And you’ll need to be fluid with what’s in your hand: ranged attacks might be the key to winning in one match, but they might be your downfall in the next. Thankfully, you can save multiple hands and easily switch between them.
If you’re a fan of deckbuilding games, then, Ash of Gods: The Way is definitely worth your time. It doesn’t matter if you’ve played Ash of Gods: Redemption – the games might be set in the same universe but that’s about it. The Way is its own experience, and it’s one developer AurumDust should be proud of.
Ash of Gods: The Way is available now on PC and Switch.