I came into my demo for Remnant II at Summer Game Fest with zero expectations. I didn’t play the original game and only knew it as “Dark Souls with guns.” What I didn’t expect was to become immediately caught in its web, not because of its shooting or looting, but by the canine companion Gunfire Games gives the Handler class. Sure, there’s also the Gunslinger that is more effective with firearms, or the Challenger who gets up close with melee weapons, but who cares about specializing in a certain playstyle when the Handler has a dog who is your friend. Can a gun or sword be your friend? I don’t think so.
As a newcomer, Remnant II is an enticing amalgamation of a lot of different elements. The modern-day firearms are coupled with the dark fantasy of its enemies and world, but framed through a Soulslike structure, complete with campfire-style checkpoints to sprint toward in an attempt to save your progress. The shooting feels tight, the enemies are tough but fair, and every time I respawned, it was like navigating a time loop, learning and reacting to what I’d seen before with new knowledge and skills on hand. But who cares about any of that when there’s a dog around?
Playing as the Handler class let me sic my furry friend on monsters who would have otherwise flayed me alive. But not only is this goodest of good dogs a vicious combatant, they’re also a medic who can revive you in battle. Annoyingly enough, however, when I went down in one fight during the demo, my friend couldn’t revive me because every time they tried they were pestered by a low-level enemy in the middle of the healing animation. But just knowing my friend was trying to save me as the light left my eyes was comforting enough to excuse the open wound inflicted upon me by one of Remnant II’s beasts.
But as me and my friend fought our way through Remnant II’s corrupted world, there was one point where my dog was overwhelmed in a fight, and they were knocked into an unconscious state. I sprinted over to their limp body to revive them, and that’s when fear for my dog’s mortality gripped me more firmly than any of my foe’s clutches could muster. I played through the demo wondering if there was a point where my dog might not get up if I revived them. Was there a limit to how many times they could withstand a depleted life bar before it wouldn’t refill?
I turned to the Gunfire Games representative at the demo and asked, “Does the dog die?” He laughed, and assured me that they wouldn’t. Not even in the plot. Now that I’ve been assured Remnant II isn’t an elaborate Marley & Me spin-off masquerading as a Soulslike, I’m excited to see the full game come together on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S.
Kotaku is covering everything Summer Game Fest, from the main show on Thursday to other events happening throughout the next week. Whether you’re into larger-than-life triple-A games or intimate, offbeat indies, you can keep up with all things SGF here.