Ash of Gods: The Way – Review
Follow Genre: Deck building game
Developer: AurumDust
Publisher: AurumDust, Game Seer
Platforms: PC, Switch
Tested on: Switch

Ash of Gods: The Way – Review

Site Score
Good: Solid gameplay engine
Bad: Limited deck building and multiplayer mode
User Score
(1 votes)
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VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Back in 2018, developer AurumDust made their debut with Ash of Gods: Redemption, a tactical RPG based on Sergey Malitsky’s Ash of Gods series of fantasy novels. The original game received mixed reviews, with many comparing it negatively to the much more successful Banner Saga games. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that AurumDust took a different approach when it came to the sequel, Ash of Gods: The Way. Rather than a traditional tactical RPG, The Way presents itself as a deckbuilding game. If you’ll pardon the puns, is The Way a failed attempt at redemption after all these years or is it the way to go?


Set two decades after the events in Redemption, The Way introduces us to the orphan Finn, a young man who is mentored by Eik, a veteran intelligence master who fought in the war between Frisia and Berkana. There has been relative peace between the two nations for quite some time, but it appears that Frisia is preparing to take up arms again, and Finn could be the key to preventing all-out war. The Frisians have developed a tactical card game, called The Way, and are using it to train their commanders’ strategic insight. While he is a Berkanian, Finn has shown natural proficiency in playing The Way. Eik hopes that Finn is able to join the champions of The Way by attending tournaments. The top-ranking players are highly regarded in Frisia but those that lose are punished severely. If Finn can climb the ranks, he’ll dispose of Frisia’s top commanders in the process. It’s a premise that requires a bit of suspension of disbelief, but the writing is generally good and the cast is likable enough that it’s easy to look past some of the more unrealistic aspects of the story.


The striking, hand-drawn art style is one of The Way’s more standout features. Resembling European comic book art, it offers a semi-realistic and gritty look into the world of Ash of Gods. The sheer nature of The Way as a card-game-come-to-life doesn’t lend itself particularly well to flashy visuals or impressive vistas, but within the confines of its art direction, The Way exceeds expectations. Add to this that the interface is clean and easy to navigate, and there is no screen clutter, and you’ve got a game that makes the most of a minimalist aesthetic.


While The Way restricts itself with its visuals, the same cannot be said for the audio, which cranks things up to eleven from the get-go. Every line of dialogue is voiced, and the gritty and gruesome nature of the story is heavily emphasized by the voice cast. Each and every actor delivered a fantastic performance that really got us invested in the characters they voiced. Likewise, the sound effects are crisp and really help sell the impact of battle. The cherry on top is a fantastic OST that wouldn’t feel out of place in a fantasy-themed TV series.


While The Way is definitely a more story-driven experience than most other deckbuilding games, the meat of the game still lies in playing the card game of course. The Way is structured around a series of tournaments, with each of these making up a story chapter. After a tutorial, which covers the basics of the game, Finn attends a practice tournament to convince the king of Berkana of his merits before setting out on what the game affectionately calls a suicide mission. Subsequent chapters dive into the conflict between the two nations of Frisia and Berkana, and gameplay often reflects the story by introducing chapter-specific mechanics. While the core gameplay remains the same, the varying conditions and objectives ensure that each game remains fresh, and staleness never sets in.

A round of The Way is played with a 21-card deck: a commander, ten units, and ten support cards. Each turn you’ll draw a card and can play one unit and one support card. When a unit card is played, a miniature version of that unit manifests itself on the battlefield grid. Any units on the battlefield will automatically advance forward based on their stats. They’ll attack any enemy units they encounter along the way, or the enemy commander itself if they can get in range. The aim of the game is of course to take down the enemy commander and claim victory. It’s a tried and true formula that takes cues from games like Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic: The Gathering, and so anyone familiar with those or similar games will quickly be able to get to grips with The Way.

That’s not to say that The Way is an easy game -far from it, in fact. The victory condition changes keep you on your toes at all times. What if you can’t use spell cards, for example? Or if the enemy commander isn’t even on the field and you’re served up a completely different set of victory conditions? Whenever a new rule is introduced in a tournament, you’re eased into it, however. During the first round of a tournament, you’ll get better rewards by sticking to these special rules, but not abiding by them doesn’t affect anything else. However, as you progress, sticking to the conditional rules affects the flow of the overarching story. There are several endings available, and getting the best possible outcome involves sticking as close to the requirements as you can.

While The Way is a fantastic card game, there is one major caveat: it’s not a very good deck-building game. That is to say, there are four pre-constructed decks, all built around a specific strategy, and you can customize these to a point. However, scratch-building a deck with loose cards you obtain and especially mixing and matching the different deck categories is something that more often than not simply will not work. The four base decks can be upgraded and modified, but they’ll always form the framework around which you’ll base your strategy. We definitely would have liked more freedom and possibilities here. If the two-decade-old Pokémon Trading Card Game for GBC, which recently came to Switch Online, feels like it offers more freedom for deck construction than a modern deck-building game, then there’s definitely room for improvement. Of course, that depends on the mindset that you approach The Way with. If you look at each tournament round as a puzzle instead, and your cards as the pieces to solve that, then the deck-building aspect becomes less important.

With multiple endings and three difficulty settings, The Way is a fairly sizable game, although one thing we would have loved to have seen implemented is a PVP mode. Both the solid core mechanics and the customizability of specific rules could have made for interesting and enjoyable matches with friends, either through local connection or online. Hopefully, this is something that can be implemented in a potential sequel. That said, at upwards of 20 hours for a single playthrough, you’re getting plenty of bang for your buck here. Subsequent playthroughs will probably be shorter as you grow more familiar with the game’s mechanics and can anticipate enemy strategies, but even if you decide not to return to the game to check out the alternate endings, this is still a title that’s worth the price of entry.


To say we were pleasantly surprised by The Way would be an understatement. The game didn’t quite turn out like we expected, as we figured this would simply stick to the mechanics of its predecessor. However, the shift to a card game proved to be a stroke of brilliance. Now, we would have definitely liked a PVP mode and more freedom when it came to deck customization. However, those nitpicks really confirm just how solid the core gameplay engine is. This is a sequel that blows its predecessor out of the water. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for the Ash of Gods franchise.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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Ash of Gods: The Way - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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