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The Ascent is a solo and co-op action-shooter RPG, set on Veles, a packed cyberpunk world.
Welcome to The Ascent Group arcology, a corporate-run metropolis stretching high into the sky and filled with creatures from all over the galaxy. You play as a worker, enslaved by the company that owns you and everyone else in your district. One day, you are suddenly caught in a vortex of catastrophic events: The Ascent Group shuts down for unknown reasons and the survival of your district is threatened. You must take up arms and embark on a new mission to find out what started it all.
You belong to the corporation. Can you survive without it?
SOLO OR CO-OP
Play the entire game alone or work together with up to three friends in local or online co-op.
Aim low or high, switch weapons and equip lethal gadgets, take cover and use the destructible environments at your advantage and keep adjusting your tactic as you face new enemies.
Customize your character with cyberware that suits your playstyle. Allocate new skill points as you level up and try various augmentations to take down your enemies in new creative ways.
A VIBRANT CYBERPUNK WORLD
Meet new allies and enemies and find loot as you explore the brimming world of The Ascent and its wide range of districts, from the deep slums to the higher luxury spheres.
The Ascent is one of the most exhilarating games I’ve played to date. Neon Giant Developers have done themselves an outstanding job delivering a game that has action, story, dialogue, and excitement. With only 12 developers working on this game, they’ve made something unique. It’s not a game of my genre, however, I don’t mind a good sci-fi game that has Cyberpunk vibes. This game delivers in bucket loads full of rich lore, history, and setting. Every part of this world feels unique, from the high and mighty Pinnacle to the low-class Cluster 13. There is excellent voice acting across all fronts and especially for the alien counterparts in this game. The art design in this game excels in creating an atmosphere of a slick world where loyalty does not come cheap and power is at the forefront of everything that happens in the Arcology of the Planet Veles. This game demands a lot of strategic emphasis, and it is a game with deepness and richness that’s enough for your teeth to sink into. This review will focus on the aspects of the gameplay that are intertwined with the story. I, for one, seriously enjoyed this wonderful game.
The developers have detailed every single part of this world to the tiniest TV/Computer. You can go from one end of the Cluster to the other to see every little advertisement, the flashing neon signs, and the people inside it. People eat, drink and smoke. They laugh and talk, they go to the Golden Satori to gamble, and some of them do illegal trading in drugs and smuggling. The world itself is vital to the main story. No section of this world feels disconnected, and this has to be applauded. When you are given a major quest to go you might visit the Black Lakes, for example, or maybe the Node. One thing I liked was that as you progress, your mission correlates to the location that is given. Illustrating this further, when my character entered Black Lake, I heard stories of NPCs talking about how Black Lake was flooded and what caused its demise. But then, I imagine there was a lot more hidden to this. No one in the entire Arcology would visit Black Lake unless they had something to do with Hackers.
Black Lake is a stinking, desperate deluge where the worst of humanity’s dreams are long abandoned. Just like the Deepstink, it is over-run with annoying Feral Beasts. There’s also an illegal meat trafficking cartel going on just for the Ferals and their meat. But then again, of course, most of the food I imagine is not even real in this world. This is a world where you have to prove yourself to everyone. Many want an escape, so they’ll go to a brothel, maybe a casino, or take drugs. Wealthier citizens that are on the top of the Pinnacle, don’t need to worry too much. Life’s sorted out for them. The Node is also an area that’s relatively wealthy. This is but a glimpse of the many vibrant and diverse worlds you will encounter in this game. These locations evoke memories of my character grabbing his RPG-23 Launcher and smashing the living daylights out of these ferals and annoying gangsters, shooting with unrestrained magnitude.
(Hint. If you want to experience the true magnitude of this game, have a neutron beam as your augmentation and upgrade your biometrics and battery level to at least 20 for both. You will be an unstoppable God on the fighting fields of the Arcology) My key point is that the world creates the setting and theme for the main story. You will meet many interesting characters, and feature a lot of backstabbing people too. I felt they wasted some characters, and characters such as Celine should have had more scenes in my humble opinion. My criticism of this often explains the balance between telling than showing in various aspects as you discover this world. However, since this is a new world we are being introduced to, I can forgive it for that. It has, however, enough well-written content to keep the player gripped into the game for hours to come. I felt the story could have been a little longer.
Worldbuilding and Gameplay
As you progress through the world, your primary focus is completing quests and helping the NPCs of this world. Most of these quests make you go from one end of the Arcology to the other. The disappointing aspect is that once you’ve completed a quest, progressing back to where you started means you have to face the same NPC gangsters once again. Some bugs I encountered were many times when you had started a mission, the NPC enemies wouldn’t spawn. I had to restart my game once or twice for them to spawn, but that meant I had to enter the same arena of combat many times. Many times, I felt this was repetitive. Or when you completed an area and had finished those gangsters, there is no way to exit. Go back through the same area you came from and again face off those gangsters. Here, I would like to do something interesting. Instead of facing the same gangsters, I’d like to come up against more robots. They were far more fun to fight against. Navigation can also be tricky, and I’d want it to be smoother in my opinion with the option of quest markers. While navigation in this game requires you to figure out how to progress from location to location, sometimes it can be taxing on the mind and I would just prefer a mode where you can navigate without having to deal with NPC gangsters. Perhaps a discovery tour mode, where you can explore the city without any NPC gangsters and no enemies, just simply visit the world for fun. That would be nice.
It has never been so easy to make money in this game. In fact, it does this even better than most open-world games. Selling duplicate weapons is one thing, but you can also destroy Bounty Hunters, and they are fun to destroy with the Neutron Beam Augmentation (Which I highly recommend to get through questing or fighting NPC gangsters). You must collect a lot of these Bounties before you sell them to a bartender. It is easy to gain substantial amounts of Ucreds once you’ve collected a numerable number of bounties. You gain a ton of money for completing quests and it is very easy to level up. The biggest aspect I would tell you, the player to do, is to loot, loot, loot. Loot everything because then you will gain access to health, ucreds, which is the currency of this world, and basic components. I would also recommend saving as much as possible on basic components because once you go to a shop to upgrade your weapons, you will need those basic components then.
Here are some tips that will make Navigation easier: first, complete as many quests as possible in order to gain the maximum amount of Ucreds that you will need to take trips by taxi or buy weapons. Taxis are unlocked by completing the 3rd mission so you could easily miss this out. I advise you not to. First, most of the world will be unavailable to loot, explore, or destroy until you progress further into the main story and do side-quests. You must complete those side-quests because they are important for leveling up and progressing further. Also, get all cyber-deck upgrades pretty much as soon as you can. You need to loot from day one in this game. Second, once you use Taxi for a modest fee of 1000 Ucreds, I’d recommend having 40,000 Ucreds in the account. So whenever you need to go anywhere, just press the button for taxi and boom. It will save you plenty of time moving from one end of the world to the other. Use trains as much as you can for fast travel between quests.
The Ingame Codex Menu illustrates everything you need to know about the world of the Ascent. It has written lore, missions and explains what type of people inhabit the world. I’ve got to give credit to the UI designers that made this world very accessible. If you find yourself overwhelmed at the first go, and need a break from the world, you can simply press the tab button on PC (or a different button if you use the console) to simply chill and read it in your own time. This game was very well thought out by the team of 12 developers and I’ve got to give my hats off to them. They’ve done an incredible job creating a rich world. I do feel however that sometimes the limitations can show off in terms of what you are able to do in the world. You can upgrade your armor and gear, get augmentation (through looting, killing enemies, or buying them through the Grafter). That said, I feel there is a problem. When you travel through each part of the world, you have the following categories of shops: Grafter, Upgrader, Armourer, Weapons. These are often at every level you go through and while I don’t mind them, I do feel there could have been some more simplification. Perhaps you didn’t need so many shops in my opinion to basically upgrade gear. I would have preferred an option to repair your gear which I felt was missing in this game.
That said, I would have wanted to do more things for leisure in this game. Perhaps visit a Cinema, eat or drink. I would have also wanted to be able to travel in the trains for hours. I like that aspect and feel trains are heavily under-rated in the modern-day open-world games or sci-fi games that include them. There are plenty of dialogue lines to interact with civilian NPCs, and some of them can be downright funny, while some being outright sad. One NPC dialogue I witnessed talked about how he dreamt he had a wife and child. When he woke up, all of it was gone. That was terrible. The richness of the world also lies with the fact that wherever you go, NPCs talk about the situation that’s happening to them in this vibrant cyberpunk world and you feel immersed into it. I will say this: I enjoyed playing the Ascent. I have so much more to say. I don’t wish to elaborate further, because the way I’m feeling having played this game will prove to you how good this is for fun. You can also get this game on Xbox Game Pass, which is also an excellent decision to make if you’re going to try it out for PC and Console. Moving onwards, we’ll now focus on Combat.
The Ascent is truly one of those games that makes you feel like a God on the battlefield. I have not played shooter RPG games before, so my opinion would be that of a friendly newcomer to the field. That said, combat is fun and forces you to rely on innovation and strategy. You can also change weapons and augmentation halfway through combat. You can often duck for cover and move around here and there while trying to avoid enemy fire. Where the combat sometimes falls short is the fact that gangsters will attack you, for example, and you’ll end up killing civilians indiscriminately. A system that does not punish you for killing innocent civilians is lacking in this area of combat. I feel it could enforce more strategy in this sense. The Boss Fights in this game are fun however, they are not without their faults, however. Many times, once you figure out how to defeat a Boss, it becomes easier to switch weapons and augmentations during combat. They often repeat into a loop with NPCs enemies spawning towards you. Combat works in two ways: Completing main quests, and then using the money gained to spend it on new and excessive weapons while also upgrading gear, gaining loot, and using augmentations. Use the ones which have health more than anything else during combat.
The process occurs through running around laps in the arena of combat. While you are pursued by enemy NPCs firing at you, you must be alert and think ahead. Killing Bosses can be easier to destroy however, it then takes that sense of danger away once you have completed killing those NPC gangsters. I am suggesting having tiered levels between NPC enemies and bosses. When I went through the Node, I often had to run away from gangsters, defeating them while trying to avoid civilians caught in the crossfire. These were often unscripted, more fun, and forced me to think quicker. The Boss Fights, to an extent, vary upon which Boss you fight and what strategy you use. However, this is as much as I can offer in combat. From what I’ve experienced, combat is the most enjoyable part of this game.
The Ascent is one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played. Persistence and dogged determination while encountering failure upon failure are the key to success in this game. You will often die and return to the battlefield to fight those same gangsters again. This forces you to innovate and switch between your gear and augmentation. The unique levels of each part of the world play a key role in ensuring where you navigate, whom you speak to, and whom you fight. You will often save up your money to buy some of the excessive weapons from the shops, and when you upgrade, you will find yourself to be unstoppable. Completing as many side-quests combined with the main story will be the key to unlocking more loot, weapons, and gear. I also advise hunting down as many cyberdeck upgrades so you can lock those suitcases with advanced gear. If you’re itching for a Cyberpunk themed game, then this is the game for you. With dominant voice acting, well-written dialogue, and story, this game delivers a unique experience that you rarely get with some open-world games. A team of 12 developers that is Neon Giant have truly gone above and beyond to create a truly unique and wonderful game. You will not regret trying this game out. I do want to see a first-person mode to be added, a photo mode to be sure as well!