The Ascent Review – Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy

If you’ve ever worked a job where your bosses are the worst people imaginable, and they ask you to fix a problem using broken tools and then blame you for the results like it’s your fault, then you have a pretty good idea of what it’s like to play The Ascent. That’s not just a metaphor, either. It’s literally the baked-in plot of the game. It’s the far-off future, and in order to escape to Veles (an intergalactic project block for all the galaxy’s huddled masses yearning to breathe free), you must sign away your freedom to become an indentured servant, or Indent, to one of the various corporate masters running the place. In the first area of gameplay, you’re literally forced to clean Veles’ toilets by fixing the sewage system. By the time the credits roll, even after hours of mowing down scumbags, watching your character become a metal monster, and running odd jobs for weirdos and strangers, it’s hard to feel like you’ve worked your way up from those starting sewers.

The small blessing is that the job involves fewer plungers, and more heavy sci-fi weaponry and cybernetic enhancements. The Ascent is a twin-stick shooter, with a slew of RPG elements thrown in for flavor. You’ll find an impressive and unique assortment of pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, and rocket launchers along the way, each of which can attack enemy weaknesses for extra damage, and they all have very different practical feels in-game. Armor has a similarly expansive variety, with the added benefit of changing your character’s look to an increasingly mechanical degree. It’s not great that most of those armor pieces obscure your custom-made character–what’s the point of creating a character whose face you immediately cover up?–but the designs are incredibly cool.

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You’ll also gain special abilities along the way, ranging from a hydraulic-powered melee attack that can vaporize your enemies to deadly drone companions who can fight by your side. My personal favorite is an army of explosive spider bots who run out and autonomously seek enemies to blow up. For the most part, though, you’ll be spending most of your time running and gunning through what are essentially expansive, RPG-style, isometric dungeons, where both a well-thought out combination of armor and cyborg magic is just as important as having the right gun for the job. When your mission is done, you can head back to one of the game’s bustling shopping districts to spend skill points on various character stats, as well as buy upgrades, new items, and new cybernetic toys to splice into yourself.

Continue Reading at GameSpot

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