The Ascent

Icon - Calendar Released: 29 Jul 2021
Icon - Edited Reviewed: 3 May 2022
Platform: PC

The ascent

The Ascent is an impressive indie top-down shooter with gorgeous visuals and huge attention to detail. The atmosphere, sound effects & weapons are great. It has a levelling system, lots of options for weapons, augmentations and tactical slots, supports co-op, and includes all the things you'd expect from cyberpunk such as ICE, neon lights and evil corporations. Unfortunately it's pretty hampered by huge walks between missions with nothing to do except dodge roll for minutes at a time, and a really terrible map system. There's a lot of excellent gameplay here, but can be frustrating trying to get to your objective both in terms of UI and time. About 50% of the game is walking.

Pros

  • Character creator
  • Absolutely gorgeous. Like, seriously amazing visuals
  • Fully voiced campaign, with good actors
  • Works well on a keyboard and mouse, don't have to use a controller
  • Levels, skills & attributes
  • Sound effects and the guns are excellent
  • Weapons can be upgraded
  • Lots of combat attention to detail, like if you shoot an enemy when he's about to throw a grenade at you, he drops it
  • You can press a key to show you a path to the next objective. Which is cool, but also basically a requirement as the maps are so confusing to get around
  • There are 4 different damage types, and enemies are resistant or weak to different ones. Annoyingly though, you can only wield 2 guns at a time, so you have to keep going back to your inventory to change them
  • Fantastic soundtrack

Cons

  • I'd quite like a longer camera distance
  • No cross-play with Game Pass
  • Ray tracing framerate is bad, but runs well in DX11
  • The skill points just increase certain attributes; there's no new abilities
  • The UI can be a bit confusing, especially buying/selling items
  • Gear clearly has item levels, but it doesn't tell you what they are so it's hard to tell which gear you should get
  • A year after writing this review, "Anabolic Express" is still recommended at level 2 and takes you through an area with level 10 enemies. And it still takes you to a locked door that you can't open until later in the game
  • You can take taxis or the metro to your destination, but taxis are only within the zone you're in, and the metro stations are far and few between. There's WAY too much travelling in the game between shooting sections
  • The map does an extremely poor job of explaiuning what's on your level, underneath or above you
  • The cyberdecks feel tacked on. There's no choice about a deck, you just occasionaly stumble across an upgrade that lets you open 1 level higher of door / chests
  • Some really minor inconsistences - sometimes you have to press F to enter an area, sometimes you just walk in. Sometimes you have to hold F to open a chest, sometimes you just press it
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