Analysis – The Ascent

Who I am
Elia Tabuenca García
@eliatabuencagarcia
Author and references

As soon as it was announced, The Ascent drew attention for its beautiful cyberpunk atmosphere within an action RPG, focused on a more tactical shootout and with several possibilities for creating strategies, which involve cyberware mechanics, augmentations and loot. The Neon Giant project has always had this ambitious tone, even though it was developed by just 12 people. Despite having in its team professionals who have worked on franchises such as Wolfenstein and Gears of War, the responsibility for such a huge scope is evident, even more so with all the visibility of being on Xbox Game Pass.



With a plot that highlights corporations and crime syndicates seeking control of a collapsing world, The Ascent even allows you to experience this journey alone or with friends. Does he have the gas to keep the player's interest from start to finish? Check it out in our review.

Narrative potential but uninteresting execution

The plot revolves around the powerful group The Ascent, who raised and initially controlled the corporate metropolis known as Arcology, on the planet Veles, which within a collapsing universe, became the fate of the most diverse races in the galaxy. However, The Ascent mysteriously closed its business, which intensified the power struggle between several other corporations and also criminal organizations. In the midst of all this dispute is you, one of the many others who were enslaved and transformed into workers, who now, with the decline of the megacorporation, must take up arms to defend what is left of their sector, before chaos ensues. further.

Many of the games that follow the line of ARPGs don't have very elaborate plots, and, unfortunately, The Ascent is one of them. The game brings in its narrative ever-present social problems, such as the class division, where the poor are thrown into the sewers of Veles, while the rich live in the luxurious and modern and higher districts. Workers involved in the corporate's dark plots and highly modified thugs spreading terror wherever they go. Although the basis of the plot is extremely interesting, everything is developed in a shallow way, making it difficult for us to engage with its story.



During the twelve main story missions, you meet a variety of characters that help expand the narrative. However, as you realize how uninterestingly it all develops, and that these same characters are far from memorable, you'll be using the "skip dialogue" button often to get right into the gunfight, which is where things really get. interesting.

Frantic gameplay and full of possibilities

while the plot of The Ascent it is uninteresting, the same cannot be said about its gameplay, as well as the various options to explore its world. First, you create your character with some not-too-vast visual options, but it's not something that makes much of a difference. The appearance can also be modified at any time in the game, just by going to a certain NPC that will put you on the surgery table for your changes. However, as you level up and install more upgrades on your character, your character will change appearance and become more and more cybernetic.

As for skills, they can and can be active, called Augments. These powers are quite varied and completely alter the gameplay as they form an incredible combo with weapons. We can call in robots to fight alongside us, summon a horde of robotic spiders to get the attention of enemies, and blast them for massive area damage. Who knows how to summon a shower of guided missiles or a powerful laser beam? Or still have a field to generate healing or create protective shields? The possibilities are very vast, and you can always combine two of them, at any time, according to the battles and your style of play. We also have the resources called Tactical, which help us with grenades, healing fields, shields and more. Finally, there are the passive skills, which here are called Module Space. They increase stats like healing power, ability cooldowns, offer more health, and the like. A very fun package, with vast possibilities to create strategies to win battles.



Some of these skills can be found in chests, others can be bought from vendors or dropped from bosses. There are still chests and special doors called CIE, which to be opened need improvements in Cyberdeck, which is our hacking system. With it you can hack doors, chests, explosive barrels or even vending machines and ATMs. Items to upgrade Cyberdeck are hidden by maps, so the more you explore, the more it becomes a hack machine.

In addition to the above skills, to expand the RPG systems, we also have a number of attributes such as health, critical hit, defense, marksmanship…. In addition to directly improving your character, these attributes are important for improving weapons and abilities, as they increase stats related to these equipment, maximizing combat efficiency. Points are earned by leveling up and can also be found hidden throughout maps, encouraging thorough exploration. Your choices are not final and with a little uCred, which is the main currency in the game, you can redistribute all your points.

At its core, The Ascent is an isometric shooter, in the style of Twin Stick Shooter, which are usually games that require the use of two analog sticks to perform movement and camera actions. In addition to shooting and walking, you can also roll and take cover in various structures on the map. This coverage even brings a very nice atmosphere of Gears of War, which is natural. since some developers have already worked on the Microsoft franchise. The cover system works well, brings more depth to the gameplay, and is essential for getting through more complicated encounters. To use the cover, just duck behind an object and then use the aim button so that the character automatically shoots protecting himself from enemy fire.



The shooting itself may seem strange at first, but once you get the hang of the controls, fun is guaranteed. The weapons are varied, which makes everything even more interesting. We have pistols, submachine guns, shotguns, rocket launchers and much more. They have projectile styles and automatic and semi-automatic models, for you to choose according to your taste.

These weapons can be upgraded at an NPC who works as a blacksmith, increasing their stats with each optimized level. Materials to perform these upgrades can be found on maps or dropped from certain special enemies.

For our armor we can equip three parts: head, torso and pants. They cannot be improved, we can just switch between better models. Both weapons and armor can be dropped from enemies, and we can also buy them at some vendors around the cities, but we also find them in chests and secret locations, as well as skills. These pieces of armor also have special protections against fire or energy, for example, and can be important to get past some more complicated bosses.

The variety of enemies is great. In addition to being aggressive, many of them have special abilities and are always ready to leave us cornered. There are also some special enemies around the maps, which have rewards in their name, and if we manage to eliminate them we can get uCred and equipment.

The bosses are challenging and take the game to a new level of difficulty, because in addition to more extensive health points, they bring more devastating attacks. Protection activities, where we have to survive waves of enemies, is also where the game has the biggest spikes in difficulty. If you don't have a good understanding of skills and how the gameplay works, you'll have a hard time getting past these parts. Enemies also have weaknesses that can be exploited with the most different skills and weapons. For example, robots take more energy damage, while organic beings are weaker against fire. It seems like a lot of information, but as you accumulate hours in the game, it all starts to flow naturally. In case you are stuck somewhere, the game has also recently added changing the difficulty level (easy, normal or hard).

Combat, in general, follows that formula of easy to understand, difficult to master. This happens because despite the simple commands, the game, as we saw above, has many details that can make your journey easier or more difficult. As we progress through maps and complete battles, the more familiar we become, which makes each encounter endless fun. Combining shots with skills, as we try to protect ourselves from the aggression of enemies and see giant explosions on the screen is really a pleasurable and frantic experience.

While battles are action-packed, the path to them can be extremely tedious. Even with its stunning visuals, at times it gets tiring having to simply walk from one side to the other without anything happening. There is a fast travel system, with which we can travel with the Metro or Taxi, but in addition to being only available in open areas, they are also not present on the map. Perhaps the occurrence of more fighting along the way would make this journey more dynamic.

the duration of The Ascent It's pretty interesting, I finished the main story in about 16 hours and did a few side stories, but there's still a fair amount of them to complete.

trouble no paradise

Despite the impressive graphical presentation, with a really impressive world to explore, The Ascent it has some annoying technical problems, which take some of the shine off the work done by the ambitious Neon Giant. There are bosses that simply do not appear or appear multiplied, forcing us to go back to the menu, to redo everything after the last control point. A positive side is that the game constantly saves, avoiding big losses of progress. Going to the main menu can also be problematic, as many times the game simply does not complete the action and we have to completely close the game to be able to restart. This brings us to the loadings, which in Xbox Series X are very fast, but that in the Xbox One X take forever. There is a good initial loading, which could be forgiven if there weren't more of these loading screens during the game, but whenever we use elevators or fast travel means, these loadings happen.

The interface also goes through problems, and the most common of them is simply disappearing everything and you can't see life bar, energy, skills and weapons. Map markers are also fickle, and often lead you to the wrong place. The tutorials also keep appearing several times on the screen, even the ones you have already learned. Some dialog options were also not fully translated, offering a great mix of languages.

Most of the problems I encountered were in the Co-Op. The game can be fully enjoyed solo with up to four players in Local and Online Co-Op, but despite the strong focus on shared experience, it seems that it was the area with the least testing, especially online. First, the progress is only with the host, and if you want to do something yourself, then you'll have to do it all over again, because although you keep all your level and equipment progress, the story doesn't follow the same idea. Another problem is that if a player interacts with a story NPC, only he can see the dialogue screens and make the choices, which makes the other player lose, even more, interest in the plot. At least the cinematics screens appear for everyone. Remember the loadings I mentioned above? They're terribly big in the last generation, even playing on an Xbox Series X I have to wait for everyone in the group to load, which is pretty annoying. It's really fun to get into The Ascent with friends, but some adjustments to engage the whole group would be necessary.

Fortunately, an update is planned to optimize the console version of the game, and that promises to greatly improve this problematic launch experience. This update has been out for almost two weeks now for PC, and due to this giant delay for Xbox, it could come out at any time. If you are going to play in Co-Op I highly recommend waiting for her to leave to continue or start playing.

Amazing environments and atmospheric soundtrack

The point that Neon Giant hit the nail on the head was in the graphic presentation of the universe of The Ascent. Her world is vibrant and full of life. Every corner we discover is overflowing with details and its own personality. One of the most interesting and beautiful worlds I've been able to explore in the gaming world. Everything is meticulous in the environments, with an impressive system of light and shadows for even more stunning results, in addition to a unique vertical design, bringing a wider view of your scenes, offering a great feeling of grandeur.

Another highlight is the fact that the streets are really full of NPCs busy with their tasks and talking about the events that move their lives. Nothing too deep, but it shows the developers' concern to show a living world.

No Xbox Series X the performance is good, with few stutters or sudden drops in framerate. The game manages to maintain well at 4K with 60FPS and HDR, showing some more critical issues as we enter new areas, but overall it runs very well. Unfortunately, despite all the pre-launch hype, as of the time of this review's release, the game has not yet unlocked Raytracing on Xbox.

Another strong point of The Ascent it's your soundtrack. The themes bring all the feel of the cyberpunk theme, teleporting us straight into that chaotic and brilliant world. Whether during moments of exploration or intense shooting, the trail takes us inside that world. The game has subtitles and menus in Portuguese from our country.

Opinion

The Ascent brings one of the most incredible graphic presentations of recent times. Its environments are full of details and its world is full of life, in addition the entire cyberpunk atmosphere is extremely well built, putting a lot of big developers out there in the hat. Its gameplay is fun and brings great immersion, with a good variety of weapons and abilities that we can switch between. However, the game suffers from a story and characters without charisma, in addition to several technical problems that take away some of the shine of this debut of the Neon Giant. Even so, in general, the title manages to overcome the problems with its qualities, and even if its history is not saved, the technical problems have already started to be corrected to make the experience more pleasant.

The game is part of Xbox Game Pass, and its world full of personality deserves your attention. It is worth remembering that it has support for the Smart delivery, which means that those who purchase it on Xbox One, or play through Game Pass, will be able to access the updated Xbox Series X|S game for free and hassle-free.

Understand our notes


*Make sure this is the current price before making the purchase. Values ​​may vary.

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