The Ascent Review – After the success (or failure?) of Cyberpunk 2077, many have realised the thirst of being and playing in a futuristic cyberpunk world. Sure, there were already a few games in that particular genre but we haven’t seen good ones in a while.

While the gaming world talks about CD Projekt RED’s game, a great cyberpunk game from an indie company consists of just 11 people slips under the radar. That game is called The Ascent and boy, the game takes many people by surprise.

The Ascent is an RPG, action-shooter game in third person (or top down view) that you can play solo (single player) or with up to 3 friends (coop). It’s mostly a single player game though, which is totally fine as I had a blast playing The Ascent on my PC and completed it on my own.

My first impression when playing the game (or even while looking at the screenshots and videos before playing it myself) is how beautiful it looks. The design and the art are just breathtaking to behold – thanks to Unreal Engine 4 & NVIDIA RayTracing technology, plus the artistic touch of the designers & developers from Neon Giant.

As far as RPG goes, there is a character creation phase, stats, and special skills that you can level up and assign to your character. The Ascent is all about that fun, arcade shooting experience though so all the skills and things you can equip (like modules and augmentations) are all being made to complement that style and your preference.

Like shooting an automatic weapon while running and gunning down your opponents? Make sure to equip a rifle and upgrade your Aiming skill (less spread) and Critical Hit Rate (making sure that one of those non-stop bullets can trigger critical hits).

But if you like to hold big weapons like a rocket launcher, make sure to spend the skill somewhere else like Balance. This makes you quicker to move while holding your rocket launcher so you can find cover quicker and rain rockets down from the safety of a wall (yes, there is a cover system).

There are certainly varieties of weapons that you can collect from chests and enemies (energy weapons, shotguns, etc), or purchase from the weapon vendors. Each weapon can be upgraded to dish out more damage, but that’s about it. There are no random attributes a la Diablo or Borderlands here. I surely don’t expect a team of 11 can throw this in now (maybe The Ascent 2?) but it would certainly elevate the experience of playing The Ascent.

Gameplay, as you can probably see from the gameplay videos, is as fun and exciting as it looks. But there isn’t much excitement in wondering what kind of loot will you be getting from mowing down your enemies. Thankfully, the weapon sounds great and the gore (not too gorey) make things really fun once you start shooting and killing with the big guns.

The main missions are quite fun to do and the story is quite engaging. The dialogues are voice-acted and there are also cutscenes using the in-game engine, with your character in view (along with the armour set you are wearing). Your character doesn’t talk though (which is fine) and you can select between a few dialogue options with no branching stories. Unfortunately the side missions are just okay and I actually ended up only completing a few of them at the end – just because I can’t be bothered going back and forth after playing the game for some time.

It’s the only one thing I don’t really like – the amount of walking I have to do in the game. It is a lot of running around and mostly going through the same area I’ve been into. Sure, you’ll be thrown into combat here and there, but because there are no randomised loots to hope for, the combat sometimes makes it even more tedious to get to a point.

You can get a taxi – which is pretty much the waypoint’s instant travel in the game but often, you’ll still have to do minutes of walking from the waypoint to your destination. Thankfully, dodging (which is a combat roll that you can do to evade enemy’s bullets) helps a bit as it gets you a few metres farther, quicker than simply running around.

I also didn’t realise that I went into the final battle a bit unprepared. I would have used all my upgrading components and prepared myself more if I knew it beforehand. There wasn’t any warning that I couldn’t go back to the city to make some purchases and respec (yes, you can respec your skills).

The Ascent Review Conclusion

The Ascent is a fresh, RPG action shooter with cyberpunk theme and has lots of untapped potentials. However, even at its current state, The Ascent has a good lore, fun shooting mechanics with covering system, and a variety of weapons, skills, and abilities to boot.

The game looks gorgeous to look at with its neon lights, rain effects, sparks, gore, explosions, and even utilises NVIDIA Ray Tracing and DLSS.

Sure, there are plenty of running around from point A to point B, and there is no randomised loot system a la Diablo and Borderlands. However, given the team only has 11 people and can achieve so much, The Ascent is definitely worth a play for just A$44.95 and it is already a good game.

I’ve finished the game in 15 hours but I skipped a lot of side missions, so you might be able to get around 15-20 hours of gameplay in total. Once you’ve completed your main mission, you can still continue on playing to finish the incomplete side missions.

I’m certainly excited to see what the team can do with The Ascent 2. The lore is there and there are lots of exciting things to untap with this game.

Disclosure: The Ascent review code was supplied for reviewing

Overall
4

Summary

A fun, RPG action shooter with great lore and gorgeous graphics – along with so many untapped potentials

Pros

  • Gorgeous graphics
  • Fun gameplay
  • Stats, Skills, and Abilities to equip, switch, and level up
  • Variety of weapons to suit your playing style
  • Voice acted with in-game cutscenes
  • Good gore & violence without being too much

Cons

  • No randomised loot system
  • Too many running from point A to point B, even with the help of a fast travel system
  • “Meh” side missions and not rewarding enough

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