Behold Ashen Rift, a survival horror FPS about a man and his dog

Think Quake meets Journey. John Romero approved.  

Earlier this year independent game developer Barry Collins launched a Kickstarter for a post-apocalyptic first-person shooter called Ashen Rift. It would star a man and his dog journeying to a mysterious portal to put a stop to a blight corrupting the earth and turning people into monsters. It showed a lot of promise and even received a ringing endorsement from Doom co-creator John Romero, but it ultimately failed to reach its Kickstarter goal.

Collins has returned to Kickstarter, though, and this time he's brought a full dev team. His new studio, Pyroclastic Entertainment, consists of seven staffers with nearly a dozen other contributors lending a hand.

The effort clearly shows. The newly launched Ashen Rift was greenlit on Steam in "no time at all," Collins told Eurogamer, and it's little wonder why. The production values have certainly been spruced up since we last saw it, even if it's still a bit rough in this early form. But perhaps Ashen Rift's most distinguishing characteristics are its dog and its world.

The former, a pitbull named Bounder, will have its own AI, though you'll be able to issue him commands. Meanwhile, the world will also be very dynamic with crumbling terrain that you can manipulate to set traps. However, if you're not careful, your weapons will attract enemies. You'll also have to be judicious with your ammo, as resource management will play a big role in the adventure. While not specifically mentioned, I'm getting whiffs of Metro and Resident Evil.

When asked what separates Ashen Rift most from other shooters, Collins told me, "it's how active everything is in the world - from the enemies which listen and look for you (or anything which might make a good meal) to the destructible world. I find I get the most freaked out in the game when I have no ammo and have to scramble for rocks and logs to knock a feeder on its ass and then get the hell outta dodge."

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Yes, in Ashen Rift a shotgun can collapse a mountain spire. Though arguably tonally inconstant, this EDF approach to environment manipulation never gets old.

Collins noted that he was inspired by oldschool shooters like Doom and Quake, but also by more ponderous mood pieces like Dear Esther and Journey. "Try to think of it more as a tale, a story with shooter elements [rather] than a straight up first-person shooter," Collins said. "The story of a man with his best friend trying to figure out if there's anything they can do to save their dying world."

When asked how combat focused Ashen Rift would be, Collins said it will range greatly based on a person's playstyle. "Some players might go through the first episode firing only one to 20 shots, others may find/fire thousands. So stealth, travel and scavenging will likely play a very large role in most people's experiences."

Ashen Rift won't be an open-world game in the traditional sense, but will feature large areas to fight in, sneak through and explore. "Linear with large open areas is a good way to describe it," Collins explained. "There will be forks in the road so to speak. And we're going to let the player explore various outcomes and scenarios, but not all choices you make will be good for you, Bounder or earth."

Ashen Rift is currently in development for PC, Mac, Linux and PS4. Backer can reserve a copy of it for $20 CAD upon its estimated October 2015 release.

Despite kicking ass on Greenlight, Ashen Rift's Kickstarter is still on the struggling side. It's currently at $21,296 CAD of its $85K CAD goal with 23 days to go before its 3rd January deadline.

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Jeffrey Matulef

Jeffrey Matulef

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Jeffrey Matulef is the best-dressed man in 1984.

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