The Ascent, the preview: cyberpunk ultraviolence

The Ascent, the preview: cyberpunk ultraviolence

The Ascent, the preview

Developed by the Neon Giant, a semi-unknown Swedish team and made up of some veterans of the landscape, The Ascent did not make much noise at the time of the announcement, perhaps due to its belonging to the overly abused genre of twin stick shooters with a view from above. However, we saw this curious video game in action during an interesting digital event of ID @ Xbox, and it genuinely surprised us. What is shown, in fact, seems extraordinarily solid, boasts an unexpected depth in multiple elements, and it seems - most important of all, damn hilarious both alone and in a group. And if that wasn't enough, it will arrive at day one on Game Pass. We all have good reasons for a cheerful dedicated preview.

If he moves, you can shoot him

The premise of The Ascent is quite open and it all starts simply from the failure of a megacorporation, which causes chaos by giving free rein to organized (and non-organized) crime on the planet Veles. Since this is an extremely industrialized cyberpunk world, the solution to the delusion that has arisen is predictably one: shoot everything that moves. Quite fortunate, then, that your alter ego is a specialist when it comes to turning living beings into a colander, and there is a considerable demand for specialized killers around.

As you can easily guess, those just described are rather fragile narrative foundations on which to build an epic adventure, but perfectly suited to outline a sci fi setting and to offer a lot of freedom of action to the player. Freedom of action, however, which we immediately noticed in the game structure, thanks to a pleasant demo unveiled during the event. In fact, The Ascent does not seem to be the typical twin stick shooter with fixed arenas with well-defined power ups and very little variety, but a mixture between that genre and a real RPG, with multiple approaches to situations, an elaborate development of its protagonist, a complex loot system, and a nice extra cooperative to be the icing on the cake.

To understand, the first gameplay shown - belonging to the early stages of the game - was in an explorable city map where not everyone present was hostile . The objectives must therefore be achieved through a sort of overworld with many possible paths, and the choice whether or not to face certain criminal groups or to opt for a more peaceful solution by achieving the objectives with less risk. Let me be clear, here the "peaceful solution" does not really exist - we only talk about avoiding certain clashes and then unloading lead on someone else - but the presence of urban areas bodes well when considering the variety of tasks available. If nothing else, however, the city seems to be full of secrets, alternative battles, and closed doors to unlock (via cyberdeck or other ways) for a bit of healthy additional loot.

A thousand ways to die

The fights, however, remain the fulcrum of the experience, and it is here that The Ascent objectively amazed us, because even by observing the gameplay for a few seconds you can see a truly remarkable variety of tools and weapons available to the player . The guns are numerous and very different from each other in range and power (and immediately there seems to be spoiled for choice); not enough, then, the player can install cybernetic modifications on his alter ego, which completely change the approach to shooting. An example? the developers went almost immediately from a rather static specialization, specialized in combat from behind cover and with the ability to detonate some of the enemies hit (with consequent area damage), to an extremely more mobile variant, complete with instant shots and explosive spider drones. Ah, all this with a total absence of classes, however: the style of play depends exclusively on the modifications selected and the weapons equipped.

Speaking of covers, The Ascent presents the curious possibility of changing the height of your weapon fires when fired, rather unique in a twin stick shooter but designed to offer a more refined cover system than normal. In practice, you can fire at groin or head height, with the second compulsory choice from behind a cover; if you raise your weapon while walking normally, however, it deals high damage on stunned enemies, so the mechanic could offer quite creative options with certain weapon combinations.

Even from a technical standpoint the title of the Neon Giant is very enjoyable, with somewhat detailed maps and really neat particles (but never so excessive as to make the action less clear). Instead, it remains to evaluate the difficulty of the game during the cooperative (up to 4 players), given that the developers have talked about a scaling linked to resistance and damage of the enemies, but not about particular tweaks to the artificial intelligence. In fact, managing the balance will be quite fundamental to make the experience actually more enjoyable in a group.

The Ascent demo surprised us positively. The neon Giant shooter seems to want to stand out from the crowd thanks to a much more elaborate and flexible system than the average, and boast extremely solid mechanics. If the developers were to manage to balance the co-op properly, it could be a major surprise. We'll see.


Ultraviolent, very solid, and apparently hilarious Cooperative up to 4 players More complex than you might think DOUBTS Balance of difficulty in co-op and variety of the campaign to check You noticed errors ?

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