Astral Ascent, the tried and tested version in early access

Astral Ascent, the tried and tested version in early access

Astral Ascent

The rogue like genre has experienced an excess of media exposure in recent years thanks to the success of numerous exponents of the genre, two above all: Hades and Returnal. Over time, therefore, the plethora of contenders for the throne of "successor" of the genre, has been decidedly nourished. Often the fall was fatal for these games; This hasn't always been the case though, and in one specific case, there has been a magical spark since the demo's release at last year's Steam Game Festival. We are talking about Astral Ascent, a peculiar roguelike of which we tried the version in early access debut on April 12.

We have spent many hours between the loops of the Early Access version of Astral Ascent and now we tell you our impressions general.

Zodiac signs

Astral Ascent: dialogue with an NPC The narrative in Astral Ascent is central, important and fascinating, but implicit. The player is provided with a general premise of the events, but then it will be up to him to decide whether to concentrate on reading texts and listening to secondary dialogues to deepen this aspect. In general, however, impersonating one of the 4 playable characters (for now only 2 available) means playing a prisoner of a Celestial Prison in search of a desperate escape to freedom, since the reasons for this imprisonment are not known. To escape, however, you will have to face the jailers, or the "avatars" of the constellations: warriors thirsty for victory able to wipe out even the strongest of fighters.

Once you have understood this and carried out the contextual tutorial that explains basic mechanics and game hubs, it will be the continuing to try to escape from the prison that will allow you to better understand all the mechanics. In our test, finding memories in the maps, talking to NPCs and also narratively exploring the work gave us an overall picture of the work done by Hibernian Workshop that is definitely above average. Mystery and astrology come together in a very intriguing mix. Moreover, even the NPCs are all very well outlined, with their peculiarities both character and artistic, making conversations as an interlude in the action very pleasant.

Frenzy without respite

Astral Ascent : one of the locations The beating heart of Astral Ascent is definitely the gameplay. We are talking about a very inspired 2D action platformer, which does not reinvent the genre it belongs to, but makes the most of all the mechanics and design ideas that make roguelikes enjoyable. The peculiarities lie in the choice to remove the equipment and to focus everything on skills. Each character (two currently playable and two that will arrive with future updates) has his own style of play and his skills that will be performed by pressing the Y key.

These skills are inserted in a mini loop of 4 skills that alternate with each other. In order to use them, however, it will be necessary to always have a full mana bar since each move will have a cost. To reload the mana, it will be essential to use and hit the normal hits by pressing the X key. Again, the important thing will be to create a balanced circle between basic hits and skills to always keep the mana charged and be able to maximize the damages.

The gameplay is completed by: the jump (double, but also triple), a dodge, the possibility of using particular skills such as the shield on the lower left spine and the healing crystals which, once obtained, will be obtained thanks to the right lower dorsal.

Astral Ascent in the Early Access version will allow you to take advantage of this gameplay across four worlds and against four Zodiac bosses. In each world to get to the boss you will have to face different rooms: which one to choose and the path to take will be up to you. You will be able to face exploratory rooms in which the puzzles to be solved will be centered on platforming, others of combat, shops, healing or special rooms and so on. Each new room is a discovery for the player and we will not spoil the experience here by telling you everything, but know that many surprises await you. But what we tell you is how the skills found as a reward at the end of specific rooms are really satisfying.

Astral Ascent: combat The gameplay of Astal Ascent is enhanced thanks to the design and beauty of these attacks. The possibility of inserting effect modifiers and bonuses also increases the planning of a real "build" for breaking the loop. Each attempt will be unique, each approach too, and the rewards will be very satisfying. Characters level up, unlock NPC bonuses, and the amount of content is disarming in terms of possibilities. There is also a customization of the colors of the character. As this is a pixel art game, you won't see any great effects, but it's still a welcome addition.

Speaking of a technical level, Astral Ascent offers a very pleasing pixel art to the eye, which does not excel in character models and which prefers a more accurate work on the backdrops and scenarios. Game worlds and enemies are truly inspired by art and design, as are the key art of NPCs and Zodiac antagonists. A particular praise also to the sound design and to the music that really present themselves in an important way in the players' headphones, supporting the action in an original and effective way.

Astral Ascent does not distort the genre, but offers a very solidity of the main peculiarities of a now abused category. What emerges is a title that is fascinating in terms of concept, effective at a playful level and bewitching in terms of design. The developer support announced since the kickstarter campaign is mammoth. In short, the ideas are there and the implementation has respected the promises, consolidating expectations. Now it's up to the players to try to escape from Astral Ascent's astral prison.


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