Ashen is a Soul-like game, which means a lot of it will be familiar if you’ve played a FromSoftware game like Dark Souls before. However, the main character puts his own spin on the mechanics. It’s not too scary or confusing, but its quirks mean there’s a bit of background knowledge.
Always Carry Spears
Relatively early in the game, you’ll pick up your first bone spears. The spear is your ranged weapon in Ashen. Having ranged attacks opens up new possibilities for you – especially when you’re always being ambushed.
Attacking from a distance allows you to thin (or weaken) an enemy before approaching. You’ll also be able to drive away enemies from larger groups so you don’t get outnumbered. And you will be able to destroy your high-altitude enemies.
Spears are also a great way to hunt, animals you see around the world – like deer and deer-like rabbits – will sometimes drop consumables.
For the first hour or so of the game, you’ll only have White Sapote to heal. Don’t be precious to them. You’ll soon be getting reloadable Crimson Gourd from Jokell, so you won’t be dependent on them for long.
If you need more White Sapote, rafets (rabbit-like animals you see jumping around) will usually drop it when you kill them. And, once your town is established in Vagrant’s Rest, you’ll be able to purchase additional White Sapote from any villager for 150 Scoria.
During the first few hours in Ashen, your health and stamina are not good. Don’t make it difficult for yourself by hoarding your consumables. You’ll probably find more soon.
Ritual Stones – Ashen
The ceremonial stones you find act like bonfires in the game Dark Souls. They load your revive item (Crimson Gourd), replenish your health, and revive all enemies, they are also your respawn point if you die.
But you don’t need to rest at the Ritual Stone and reset the enemy to heal. There is a glowing blue ring around them. Once you pass that threshold, you will be fully healed (and your progress will be saved). Use Ritual Stones to boost your health without having to fight all the bad guys nearby again.
Can’t Unlock Upgrading Weapons Early – Ashen
Upgrading (improving) your weapon will not become an option until you complete the “Annex of Light”, as we mentioned above. After Bataran opens his smithy, you’ll be able to improve any weapon you’ve picked up (not including spears).
You’ll move your weapon on a scale from Broken to Repair to Forge to Ash Transfer. Every point on that scale comes with a massive improvement to that weapon’s stats.
Don’t hesitate to upgrade. It’s more important to have the best version of your current weapon than it is to save in case you find something better later. Upgrading (at least the first few levels) only costs money (Scoria), so do it often.
Armor, however, cannot be upgraded. What you get is what you get. The only way to improve those stats is with the Relic and Amulet at Amara’s location in town (she will join your town as part of the “Annex of Light” Journey).