The Ascent – Review
Follow Genre: Arcade, Action RPG, Shooter
Developer: Neon Giant
Publisher: Curve Digital
Platform: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Tested on: PC

The Ascent – Review

Site Score
9.2
Good: Visuals, Atmosphere, Gameplay
Bad: Bugs, Some things are not explained properly
User Score
9.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

It’s not that often that games present that many surprises when it comes to their plot or how they are presented. We often get reimaginings of certain other popular titles, albeit with that distinct developer’s personal touches sprinkled in-between, or we get very niche titles that are sometimes a bit absurd, making them stand out in the evergrowing whirlpool of samey titles. That being said, we sometimes get a diamond in the rough, that sticks close to what is known and loved from specific genres, to properly flesh it out, combine it, and create something ‘new’ in the process. This is what The Ascent does for the twin-stick shooter genre, and we truly enjoyed every minute of it.

Story

The Ascent brings us to a dystopian future where a megacorporation called The Ascent Group rules the world of Veles. The company basically dictates how the inhabitants of Veles have to act, when they have to work, and they get very little reward for doing the worst jobs imaginable. Suddenly, the corporation’s structure crumbles and it’s no longer in control. This causes the many different inhabitants and regions to vie to become the new force to be reckoned with. You, an unnamed protagonist, will go from one region to another, disposing of those who are in the way, while completing different missions and tasks.

Overall, the story itself isn’t that amazing, but how it is brought and the general atmosphere very much is. You’ll get a lot of voiced dialogue sequences, a few fun cutscenes, and a fair amount of lore to flesh out what this world has to offer.

Graphics

Graphically, The Ascent looks like a perfect love triangle between Diablo, Fallout (1 & 2), and Cyberpunk 2077. The game boasts impressive visuals for a top-down experience such as this, and the world truly feels lived in. You’ll find yourself fighting in a dystopian futuristic setting, where the hubs are filled with random characters, while missions areas can be eerily deserted, only for you to get ambushed. The detail level is amazing, and the camera does zoom in on a lot of the action for certain dialogues or cutscenes, making it even more clear that this game is beautifully sculpted from top to bottom. We would have liked to see a bit more in terms of character customization at the beginning, but that’s just us nitpicking.

Sound

The sound design of The Ascent is also, like its graphical prowess, top-notch. You’ll have a fairly cinematic backdrop during calmer moments, but things get a bit more explosive during combat, blasting heavy tunes, getting you in the mood to pull out all the stops to mow down whoever crosses your path. The sound effects also pack a proper punch, and even the screams of your enemies being gunned down are quite varied. On top of that, you’ll get a lot of voiced story content, of which some is in English, while other portions are done in a ‘native’ alien language.

Gameplay

The Ascent is a twin-stick shooter with a lot of RPG elements, and a fairly open world to explore. From start to finish, you’ll be engaging in firefights, while finding new weapons, upgrading your character, exploring the world, completing side-missions, and so on. The overall basics are straightforward, as you just point and shoot at your enemies (and a few civilians), but the added intricacies do make the game a lot more complex than you’d initially think. You’ll soon find yourself managing your gear, upgrading specific weapon types, modifying your character, and investing stat points to become a more versatile gunslinger.

At times, you may find yourself a bit overwhelmed in the world of The Ascent, and that’s quite okay. You’ll notice that this digital universe is bigger than you’d expect and that many side missions allow you to explore different parts of said world. You’ll go from one slum-like environment to another, to eventually reach bigger and better parts. Navigating can be a bit difficult, but the game does show you where to go for the quest you’re tracking by a simple press of the designated button. You’ll notice the armor and weapon system are somewhat basic, where it’s just a matter of personal preference, and swapping out pieces of armor for different occasions. In terms of armor, it’s somewhat akin to the Monster Hunter series, where you choose the piece of armor you’re wearing, depending on who or what you’re fighting next.

While a near-perfect experience, The Ascent does come with a few minor annoyances. There is a quick travel option available in the game, but it’s a bit tedious to deal with, and it’s also easily overlooked most of the time, making backtracking a bit longer than you’d like (this is also somewhat true for the taxi system). We also encountered a few bugs, where quests became bugged, forcing us to complete other missions first, as certain doors would not allow us to go to the next area (even though they opened). We even encountered a few full crashes, which would then also lock the quest we were trying to complete. We do hope that this gets patched, as we were lucky enough to only experience this during side-missions, but we can imagine the frustration this might bring when it happens when trying to complete the main quest(s).

Conclusion

The Ascent is one of those rare gems in an oversaturated genre that combines the best of many of its predecessors and crams it into one functional and fun game. We did still encounter a few annoying bugs, but for the most part, it was smooth sailing through an interesting atmospheric story and an amazing-looking world, while a great soundtrack accompanied us during our lengthy sessions. Those looking for a fleshed-out twin-stick shooter, with a few Diablo-esque elements and a Cyberpunk aesthetic should certainly consider picking this one up. While co-op provides the most fun, this is also a great game to play on your own.

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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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The Ascent - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

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