Review | The Ascent
I am typically not a huge fan of isometric titles. I had great fun playing the classic Fallout titles growing up. I find the 2.5D qualities to be limiting and rather outdated. However, The Ascent has made me a believer again. Last year, the team over at Neon Giant delivered a fresh, engaging cyberpunk classic with fantastic fantastic visuals and action to boot. After almost a year after its quiet release on Xbox and PC, PlayStation players can finally get a taste of this rather low-key masterpiece.
The Ascent sees your custom character go through the motions of being enslaved by a megacorporation known as The Ascent Group. Your ultimate task is to uncover the truth about the sudden drop in influence that The Ascent Group holds. Naturally, your journey wont be very easy. Rival factions and corporations have taken the groups decline as an opportunity to sweeten the deal for themselves. It’s up to you to destroy whoever gets in your way while restoring the Group’s hold on power. In your pursuit for the truth you’ll encounter mutants, monsters, and thugs alike as you blow your way through a destructible dystopian hellscape.
The Ascent‘s progression and loadout customization system was a surprising thing to experience. Your character is equipped with something called a cyberdeck. Cyberdecks are devices that can be used to open doors and find rare loot. There are a splendid variety of weapons available to use as the story progresses, as well as drop from enemies. Every weapon feels especially powerful. I found myself mowing down enemies with ease on the hardest difficulty with the starter pistol. It really is a joy to watch creatures and goons drop within two or three shots. You can also augment your character with different abilities via your cyberware to give yourself an edge in battle. There is 4-player online and 2-player local is also available for those who want to jump in with friends
I was immediately blown away by the shooting mechanics in this title. Most twin-stick shooters becoming mind numbing after about 30 minutes. My character is often to small on the screen and it make engagement more difficult. However, I did not encounter this problem in the slightest while playing The Ascent. What makes this title unique from a technical perspective is it’s cover system and ‘high-aim’ feature. The enemies are plentiful The Ascent and don’t allow for much room for breathing. The game allows you to mitigate this by aiming above a closer enemies head to shoot one behind them. This can also be used as a means to fire a taller enemy as opposed to a shorter one of they are in the same line-of-fire. I found this mechanic while simple to be rather innovative and it definitely added to my experience. Apart from this, things are fast-paced, more than functional, and whole lot of fun.
I find it hard to get fully immersed in isometric titles the way I would on your average third-person experience. However, I didn’t find that to be problem with The Ascent. The visuals are beyond impressive. developers have truly pushed Unreal Engine 4 to it’s brink in terms of fidelity in the isometric context. While character models are small on screen, they carry commendable detail. The environments while reminiscent of other cyberpunk games is unique to itself and really makes use of the camera angles provided in-game. The game functions as an open world and is very limited on loading screens. The colors are rich and saturated. Bullet textures are fun to look at and really give off a feeling of the damage being done. The game’s soundtrack is also nothing to sleep on. Energetic, enthralling synthwave tracks make a great sonic backdrop to the killing spree. Excellent work from Pawel Blaszczak on the music.
The Ascent is by far the most engaging twin-stick shooters I’ve played. I personally haven’t felt this level of satisfaction since the original Dead Ops Arcade hidden games in the original Call of Duty: Black Ops back in 2010. This game is incredibly impressive for a team of only 12 people. A year after its initial release, The Ascent still triumphs as it makes its way to PlayStation. If you were limited by the Xbox and PC availability prior to this, now’s your chance to pick it up. I highly recommend it.
Final Score: 9 out of 10
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