The Ascent is often praised as the better cyberpunk game when being compared to last year’s Cyberpunk 2077, however this for me has not been the experience. Now don’t get me wrong, I consider myself a fan of the cyberpunk setting and I am also a connoisseur when it comes to RPGs. But The Ascent did not really click with me and it might due to the high expectations I had before starting this game.
After finishing Cyberpunk 2077, I was pumped. Having loved – with the exceptions of a couple of bugs – every minute of the game, I was in need of some more futuristic dystopian violence. When Gamer.nl ran a giveaway for game keys they did not have a chance of reviewing themselves, I jumped at it the moment I saw The Ascent on the list.
Now in the intro I stated that I had high expectations, one might wonder why the game did not click with me. First of all the game was being heavily promoted as a Diablo-like ARPG but with a futuristic setting with graphics rivaling that of AAA games. Teasers and trailers of the game made it look gorgeous with raytraced dystopian cities as a playground to shoot stuff. However the moment you boot the game, you realise that The Ascent is in no way an ARPG like Diablo, but just a twin stick shooter. Is this bad perse? No of course not, but I dislike playing twin stick shooters on my PC having to resort to mouse and keyboard. And yes you might say, “go connect a controller” and I did, but after doing so, I noticed that my character got stuck easier in the (very rich and detailed) environment and that shots did not connect as well compared to using the mouse. So I had to settle with keyboard and mouse, which for me was not optimal.
When it comes to the whole ARPG aspect of the game, there isn’t actually one. Sure you loot chests and enemies for currency and gear, but this feels moot quite early on in the game. Certain vendors, chests and enemies you find early on, will have overpowered weapons that you don’t have to grind for better. In the mid game you will have enough currency to just go to specific vendors and get a new gun that is even more overpowered and race towards the end. This means you will just be picking up and selling everything. To give an example: One of the first boss fights a rocket launcher drops. If you are a bit skillful in keeping enemies at a distance and performing dodges, you can kill pretty much anyone with this gun. After selling pretty much everything I had picked up, I visited a black market vendor you meet early on in the game to get a flamethrower, which is considered one of the best guns in the game and powered through the remainder of the game. And more such guns can be easily obtained early on by investing in hacking skills.
Now does this make the game bad? Well it depends. If you are playing purely solo, expecting some sort of depth in character building or story, then you will be disappointed. However if you are playing this with friends and just want to enjoy gorgeous graphical violence where each shot feels like you are a one man army, feel free to pick The Ascent up.