The Ascension | RPGFan


Boy, I like myself a little bit of cyberpunk. Action RPGs, top-down shooters, always night-time towns, all filthy – sign me up! Ascension is clearly cyberpunk. Artistically similar to the Shadowrun serial on PC, Ascension turns visuals up to eleven. Not only is it a technically beautiful game, but the level of detail at each location is staggering and borderline intimidating. Pair these visuals with stunning voiceovers and captivating vignettes of passers-by as players explore the world, and what’s not to love? Well, the gameplay and the bugs, for starters.

Strange bugs absolutely assaulted Ascension from the exit. As we all know, modern gaming gives developers the chance to fix their mistakes, especially when it comes to bugs; However, the degree to which the bugs in this game influence the gaming experience is of concern. Some players have complained about black screens and crashes, although I haven’t encountered them. I have encountered several – up to four – copies of bosses appearing at random after cutscenes and elevators that get stuck during co-op play and force one person down while the other player picks it up. Entire questlines and enemies were also gone until I restarted the game. We’re talking ghost town here – no sprites, friendly or whatever. The bugs don’t end there, but these examples show the types of issues people are currently experiencing.

Far from breaking the game, I find the bugs bearable. To be honest, if the quality of the gameplay matched Ascensionpresentation, I wouldn’t care at all. Although artistically marvelous, Ascension struggles to provide the basics of sound game design. Throughout the experience my brother and I had to walk everywhere. The metro exists, but only in certain places and hardly ever where you need it (where you get or complete quests). You can call taxis from anywhere, but they are extremely expensive in a game where purchasing basic equipment depletes all the funds you earn on your trip from level 1 to level 12. Taxis take you rarely get you where you need to go. The result is that after completing a lab (i.e. dungeon), we had to go back to the entrance and then walk to the nearest metro or railroad tracks just to get to where we needed to go. More than once we have spent our 20-minute or so insane journey hitting the same old enemies with bullets.

Ascension boasts impressive detail and personality.

Unfortunately, AscensionThe shooting game isn’t too exhilarating either. Shooting at enemies turns into spraying and praying – shooting vaguely in their direction and hoping something lands. He is in adequate control, but sometimes getting caught on a fallen comrade creates frustrating moments in already intense situations. Combine that with the goofy aiming mechanic while dodging for cover, and the less than perfect controls only serve to exacerbate the bad gameplay.

Of course, the game offers three skill points per level that can increase accuracy – which annoys me so painfully in modern games (why do we always do this?) Something that shouldn’t even be a problem at first. place. Upgrading isn’t the celebratory experience it should be. Upgrading any of the eight different stats also places numbers in sub stats like Cybernetics, but the sub stats don’t represent anything significant until the end of the game.. With the sub-stats, the devs seem to be trying to add depth to the skill point allocation, but I’m fascinated that they refused to take advantage of it earlier.

The equipment is not only offensively expensive, but it’s vanilla as it all comes out. Several types of weapons exist – think shotgun, SMG, assault rifle, pistol, etc. – and each offers a particular property (fire, impact, electricity, etc.). Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where the customization ends. Players can thoughtlessly throw “core components” to improve said weapons, but these rarely increase anything of importance, usually moving a number in a range of damage numbers up to one or two points. Where’s the excitement? Can I turn my bullets into talking-shoot nanomachines? What about the fire shells that are incredibly powerful when they leave the chamber but lose their fiery goodness when they fly? Could we get bullets having different effects when hovering over different types of terrain? Can we please do something that might make me smile?

Outdoor seating at The Ascent under a neon Jellyfish sign.
The game is also dirty and beautiful.

Still, I smiled. While scavenging quests and sloppy bounties flood the main missions and side quests, I adore some key characters. Our protagonists are dashes – that is, indentured mercenaries – who serve up a disgusting, lazy, dishonest and manipulative bastard who is always in the same booth at a bar, but this slug is probably one of the best characters in the whole game! The voice actor kills the lines and the dialogue is exquisite. Tasteful and creative swear words match the colorful personality of each line. This gentleman is not the only star of the series; various cast members frequently grace the stage throughout, providing a memorable experience, and not for the wrong reasons!

Likewise, NPCs litter the streets and alleys of each of the different towns and cities. Most engage in informal conversation that creates a sense of belonging. Two people talk about the recent bankruptcy of a mega-corporation in a way that could only be expressed in this cyberpunk landscape. Buddies harangue a friend for sleeping with someone outside of their relationship using slang that reflects the world. Someone sits slumped in the lobby of a transit station, talking about the other life he lived in cryogenic sleep and weeping over the fictional woman and children he had in stasis. Of course, none of these ideas are entirely new, but they’re tastefully scattered throughout the game, so it’s not just a tiring journey from point A to point A to a point B for executing targets that have become the responsibility of your corporate overlords. These NPC conversations add a distinct flavor that most games don’t have, and they make the grueling gameplay a little less underwhelming.

A cyberpunk shop in The Ascent where the merchant asks the player character "Hardware or software?"
I guarantee I don’t have the money for anything you sell, and I’m doing post-match content right now.

I can’t remember the last time I was so confused by a game. Ascension is a sound and visual masterpiece. Although cliché, nothing quite beats the beats of cyberpunk music. Slow, punchy synths and percussions complete the rainy and graffiti-strewn environments. The amount of detail in the world and the raw talent of the voice actors constantly shocked my brother and me. The short stories and expertly written dialogues create a sense of belonging with anonymous people that I want to have a real conversation with – please tell me more!

If I’m brutally honest, I’ve played some top-down shooting flash games that have a deeper design and play better than Ascension. Playing it was a terrible experience that I coached my brother through, and I feel guilty for it. While the thumbnails are cool, the central plot falls apart completely. Firstly, the game doesn’t give you time to make sense of the giant conspiracy that is unfolding. Second, player-controlled characters never speak or suggest any motivation other than wanting to earn their freedom. And finally, the horrible gameplay distracted me and caused me to quit the story halfway through.

That 10-15 hour trip at $ 30 to the exit is riddled with bugs and lodged in boring game design and even worse execution. Nothing excites me to play Ascension. If only it was an adventure game.


About Johanna Gooding

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