Test – The Ascent: the twin-stick shooter of the summer

Expected around the corner as one of the first big excluded from the Xbox Series, The Ascent does not disappoint.

The developers of Neon Giant, a small Swedish studio made up of 11 industry veterans, sign their first production with The Ascent. The title, which runs on Unreal Engine 4, caused a sensation last summer when it was officially presented at the Microsoft keynote. Excluded from Xbox (also available on PC), the title is presented as a twin-stick shooter which borrows certain gameplay elements from RPGs.

Visually, the game is superb.

In The Ascent, you play as a “perma”, a henchman transformed into a slave, who is entrusted with missions by his corporation. In the future cyberpunk of The Ascent, humans rub shoulders with other species, with diverse and varied intentions. The player will gradually get to know the world around him, over the course of the missions. If the world of the game is very attractive, we regret from the outset that immersion level, The Ascent struggles to seduce with fairly hollow dialogues and dubbing, failed cutscenes and big concerns about angles of view.

Pad in hand, fortunately, the situation is radically different. Clearly, The Ascent is not a game that will be played for its storyline. On the other hand, his universe clearly deserves the detour. If it is a twin-stick shooter, the title does not hesitate to play with the codes of the genre and very often eyes more on the side of the RPG than the shooter. We walk freely in the universe of The Ascent. The missions entrusted to us, however, push us to follow a well-defined path in this open world.

It is possible to hide in order to duck enemies.

We will not hide it from you, the fights represent a big part of the gameplay. You will have to face renegades, robots and monsters of all kinds alone or with others, in teams of four. The gameplay is very nervous. We use one stick to move, the other to aim. You can switch quite easily from one weapon to another. Dodge is essential to avoid hits or grenades. The gameplay seems a little too simple at first, but it is gradually enriched with elements borrowed from RPGs. In The Ascent, you will gain levels over the experience acquired, you will be able to improve your equipment and your arsenal and above all use “increases”, powers that you will collect during the adventure and that you can equip. There is something for everyone: from the defensive turret that will help you clean up, to the shock wave, to progressive character care. Experience points also allow you to gradually improve your character. The whole is pretty well done. Solo, The Ascent is a rather enjoyable game to play, but which only reveals its true potential in co-op. The developers leave the choice here to the players: it is possible to play it locally or online.

The RPG part is pretty solid.

Together, it is possible to set up real strategies, to cover each other during intensive assault sequences. Boss fights are also a lot more fun. In solo, the formula also works quite well, although the game has a little more “lone wolf” side. It will take more cover to duck enemies and no one can save you.

On the content side, the title will manage to keep you glued to the pad between 12 and 20 hours of play, depending in particular on whether or not you accept the side quests. For the genre, the content is therefore rather generous, especially since the title is only sold € 29.99 and is included in the Gamepass. However, we regret some fairly repetitive passages. Clearly, we feel that the developers were sometimes at their wit’s end to extend the entertainment. The pace remains overall very good and the bestiary as well as the locations are sufficiently varied to maintain the interest of the player. The formula is nonetheless very classic.

The Ascent nevertheless manages to distinguish itself from other games of the genre by its splendid realization. On Xbox One, the game looks quite nice. On Xbox Series, we are close to the graphic slap. The environments are superb, the visual effects amaze us. The world of The Ascent is filled with life. If the action takes place in the foreground, it is not uncommon to witness very striking scenes with the crash for example of a flying vehicle in the background, against a tower, which will crash in turn, causing panic among the NPCs in the sets. A lot of work has been done in terms of immersion. The cyberpunk universe of the game is also very successful – even more, dare we say, than that of Cyberpunk 2077. There is no doubt, The Ascent is with Ratchet & Clank and Flight Simulator one of the first true slaps on “next-gen” consoles. However, we regret that the optimization is far from perfect, with a few small bugs here and there and very awkwardly placed save points.

Conclusion

Nice graphic slap, The Ascent is also a very pleasant game to play alone or in co-op, with three friends. Somewhere halfway between a twin-stick shooter and an RPG, the first game from the Swedish studio Neon Giant hits hard with its charming cyberpunk universe, its breathtaking settings, its nervous gameplay and its lifespan. solid. Very action oriented, the game offers intense gunfights. The grip is accessible, but The Ascent manages to be rich enough to interest followers of the genre with its well-thought-out cover system, intense boss fights, upgrades, and RPG-inspired experience system. All the elements of a very great game are there. However, it will be criticized for not always very well placed save points, clumsy menus and failed cutscenes. Unfortunately, The Ascent is not the kind of game that we go through for its storyline, but more for the action. In co-op, locally or online, the title shows its true potential. Battles against renegades, robots and monstrosities are extremely fun. The title is also one of the first next-gen games to hit our jaws.

The Ascent

The +:

  • A grandiose achievement
  • Local and online co-op
  • Solid content (12 to 20 hours of play)
  • The soft price (30 €)
  • Rather fun fights

The – :

  • The menus
  • Very poorly placed checkpoints
  • The presentation: cutscenes, voiceovers and camera angles don’t show it in its best light


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