The Ascent (Review)

That’s right, in an era of first-person and third-person shooting games, we instead have a twin-stick shooter called The Ascent.  Part of why we’ve moved away from this isometric camera view is because of our ability to push graphics good enough for close ups.  So does this game’s zoomed-out focus tickle those nostalgia naughty bits but with that cyberpunk nipple twist?


…succeeds in creating satisfying combat.

The basic concepts behind twin-stick shooters haven’t changed much over the years, and it certainly doesn’t here, either.  In this manner, there’s a well-known foundation to build off of and the game succeeds in creating satisfying combat.  It’s fun, and later becomes visceral as you open up more moves to use, though you’ll never feel OP because strategy IS required.  There is no doubt in my mind you’ll die, plain and simple.  And part of that reality is that some fights are clearly intended to be done in co-op, but since I solo’ed the entire game, strategy was paramount to my survival which speaks to competent combat design.  The other part of my survival really is the surprising wealth in weaponry and combat options, and though I found my mojo with certain weapons, I have no doubt you’ll find something you like.  When you do, you’ll want to upgrade it, naturally, and your character along with it.  Unfortunately, as satisfying as the combat is, it’s all you do.  It’s rather monotonous, and this carries along thematically with your character simply being an errand boy.  You’re just going to fight baddies, and that’s it.  There is very little changeup to gameplay, unless you want to include the difficulty of navigating the verticality of the map (but thankfully there’s a nav guide!).  So, despite how much I enjoyed mowing down foes, I did pretty much nothing else.  The only thing that can reduce the effect of the monotony is to bring a friend or two, though if you’re playing it on Game Pass via PC like I am, I hope they fix the connection issues by the time this review posts.


…fair warning is that there is no endgame content.

Having done nothing but mow down foes, the credits rolled a healthy 15 hours later.  For such a small dev team and the game being half-priced (and also on Game Pass), I have no complaints, here.  However, the fair warning is that there is no endgame content.  Once you’ve completed the game, you’ll still be turning in bounties, and just going through the numerous side quests you missed.  On the flipside, I was genuinely surprised at how much effort was put into the game’s codex, and you’ll find more world lore than you could have possibly dreamed of.


… this game’s cyberpunk aethetic is absolutely excellent.

Because this game was made by a small dev team of 12 people, I can’t tell if this speaks to the ease of Unreal Engine, or the talent of this studio.  Perhaps it’s both, but this game’s cyberpunk aesthetic is absolutely excellent.  The art style on show using the technology on-hand presents not only impressive world variety, but also cool weaponry effects, too.  Thus, this game’s a looker, through-and-through.  Sadly, though, that’s where the buck stops as it seems perhaps the devs bit off more than they can chew.  First, since I played this on PC through Game Pass, I seemingly have the “Xbox” version which means I had no ray tracing or DLSS.  Again, I hope this is fixed by the time this review goes live as it’s present in the Steam version.  I also found bouts of inexplicable framerate drops, and some strange camera stutter.  In addition, there’s visible hitching when assets are being streamed in, too.  It seems there is definitely some work to be done on the Xbox version, at least on PC. Moving into the story is another bit of a letdown: sure, it actually follows your errand boy life and explains itself, but without any real character development and any real world-building within the story, it simply seems like the first chapter of a bigger game.  And not to spoil it, that might be accurate: the ending hints at either a sequel or DLC.  Still, I can’t deny I’m impressed by what just 12 people did here, and it rivals some of the biggest studios even if it still needs ironing out and to continue the story.


Yet the game exudes enjoyment in both the combat and visual arenas.

I actually wanted to be harder on this game because of its use of the more simplistic isometric view and twin-stick shooter concepts.  And in truth, it does nothing new.  Yet the game exudes enjoyment in both the combat and visual arenas.  This is a fun game, though again you’ll want to bring a friend so the monotony doesn’t tire you out as you really are just a thug.  And while it’s clear this game needs some work, primarily in the optimization category, I can’t deny that this is one of those indie games I don’t regret playing in the slightest.

I give The Ascent

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