The Ascent (Xbox Series X)

Without beating around the bush, this might be one of my favourite titles of the year. Developed by the relatively new team at Neon Giant, the game has only 11 people working on it in a 3 year period. The Ascent is a top down Twin-stick shooter with some light RPG elements, with a fantastical Cyberpunk setting.

Set in the world of Veles, where we see “the Ascent” group whom owns pretty much everyone, has just collapsed. Our story sees us trying to find out what happened and to stop the other factions seizing control of Veles.

Firstly lets talk about the presentation of the title, it looks absolutely fantastic. For an isometric title in this setting we have an kaleidoscope of colour in the midsts of the greys and browns of a dystopian future, we have busy centres with loads of AI activity, bars full of humans and aliens dancing together, with everyone going around their business as per usual.

In the hub areas we have arrays of shops, bars, and markets full of people lit up in huge neon lighting, advertisements and flying cars all over. The camera will often pan out onto huge cityscapes and huge structures, making you feel like an insignificant speck in the huge city. If you’re fans of “Blade Runner and “Judge Dredd” you’re going to feel right at home.

Weapons have some nice effects but nothing we haven’t seen before. Alien and character design fits right in with the setting, you’re able to customise your character to an extend with some different coloured gear and a few different outfit choices, some of these look like they’ve been taken right out of your favourite sci-fi movies, and there’s one that reminds me of the Megaman helmet.

Each of these have a different class, which leads me on to my next point. Armour and outfits all contain different stats, these can do things like upgrade your critical hit chances, defence against certain attacks, etc. Your weapons are similar with certain weapons having special ammo types, these will do different types of damage to enemies, however this doesn’t really feel significant in the way the game plays, there’s a smaller array of weapons than your usual dungeon crawler, and there’s a decent amount of upgrading you can do with your weapons. Or maybe you could say it lacks a bit of depth for those who want a deeper rpg experience.

Story wise the game was fine, you might be a little disappointed if you wanted something hugely deep, but it’s simple enough to follow, I went through the main campaign in about 9-10 hours, there’s a decent amount of side quests with a bit of a mix of things to do, whether that be killing a certain person/people, planting items in certain places or killing enemies with certain perks. You’ll find stronger versions of your standard enemies with bounties which will give you a cash boost when you take them to certain bars. There’s also a good few boss encounters too, which will give you a nice little difficulty boost.

Some of these missions will have rather annoying stand off’s or “hordes” if you will, where you’ve got to fight for a certain amount of time. These artificially increase the difficulty and really ruin the immersion of the game for that little bit. I’d have preferred a few more special enemy types just to give a bit of variation.

My only real gripes were what was mentioned above, the horde modes really ruined it for me. As well as a decent fast travel mechanic, the taxi and the subway were ok. But the area names didn’t mean much to me so ended up walking from a to b to c. Which slowed my gameplay time down but also gave me a bit of time to grind through my characters rank.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Ascent, even on my own when co-op was available to me. The game is crying for more content though as I felt it was a bit short compared to other titles of similar ilk. Something like The Ascent is crying for a cross-over with other IP, I’ve mentioned it a few times in real life, but this would be a perfect Judge Dredd game. If anyone has any sense they’d sort this out as it would probably be perfect.



Excellent fun, only marred by a few little tidbits

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