REVIEW: ‘The Ascent’ Will Scratch that Cyberpunk Itch (Xbox One)

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The Ascent - But Why Tho

If you were disappointed in Cyberpunk 2077 for its lack of impactful themes, letdown about promises CD PROJEKT RED made, or just couldn’t play it since you have an old-gen console, check out The Ascent. Published by Curve Digital and developed by Neon Giant, it’ll scratch that cyberpunk itch.

The Ascent is an action-shooter RPG that can be played either solo or with up to three other people (online or through couch coop). The game places you in the shoes of an indent, an indentured servant who signs their life away to a megacorporation for the chance to come to Vales, a world with supposedly better possibilities. A slave in all but name, your life belongs to The Ascent Group. Well, that is until the corporation shuts down for unknown reasons. The survival of the district you live in is now threatened by other groups looking to take over. You’ll have to take up arms to ensure not only your survival but the entire district’s, and you’ll go on a journey to find out what started it all.

While not wholly unique in its angled top-down style, The Ascent nevertheless looks great. The cyberpunk themes can be seen in the cacophony of sights and sounds. From the neon lights, the multitude of storefronts, to the constant hubbub of alien languages and the rev of engines, it’s a bit overwhelming but perfectly captures a futuristic, dystopian feel. As you ascend in the district, the levels go from garbage-filled and cluttered to immaculate and spacious, representing the change in wealth. There are so many small details put into each level that I never get bored of them.

The Ascent - But Why Tho

The levels themselves are labyrinthine. But with the use of a mini-map and a ping that shows you a path to your currently-tracked mission, the levels become easy to navigate. Exploration is rewarded generously with plenty of crates to loot. Occasional changes in the camera’s perspective create fun experiences by showing off impressive views, requiring players to challenge enemies from a different angle, or revealing secrets.

But the cyberpunk themes go beyond just the graphics. High tech meets low-life in The Ascent’s story and action. You’ll fight through gangs, aliens, robots, and feral creatures with a multitude of guns, each of which has the ability to be upgraded through finding components throughout the complex levels. While the character creator isn’t very elaborate, you’ll be able to splice your character with various augmentations, allowing you to deploy robots, leap long distances, or blast a crowd of enemies with a neutron beam. Upgrade your stats, guns, and augments, and find new guns and armor; there’s so much you can do to make your character fit your playstyle and tackle anything that comes your way.

You’ll encounter a variety of different characters, many of whom will offer you side missions. While you can easily get through the game by just playing main missions, the side missions are what drag you into the world of Vales. Finding datapads and talking to the odd NPC further opens your eyes to what it means to live in Vales.

Generally, the action is fun. You’ll encounter plenty of enemies with a plethora of different attacks and movements. And the bosses you encounter will be challenging depending on your level. However, rarely was there a boss battle that required much skill or precision to overcome. And even upon death, The Ascent is never harsh. Death may respawn enemies, but it only sets you back a bit in the level, and you’ll never lose quest progress.

The Ascent - But Why Tho

While the graphics are astounding and the story and characters are generally entertaining and fun to interact with, there are a few frustrations. Because of the angled top-down perspective, it can be fairly easy to get stuck on objects while you’re running or rolling out of the way of an attack. It can also be pretty difficult to aim grenades with the default button layout.

At times, the voice acting and lip movements aren’t in sync. Despite this, I can hardly complain because the voice acting is wonderful. While not every character you interact with has English dialogue—many speak an alien language so you’ll have to rely on subtitles a lot—the few main characters that do are excellently performed.

Overall, The Ascent is a great addition to the cyberpunk genre. The graphics are stunning, the characters and story entertaining, and it’s available right now on Gamepass!

The Ascent is available now on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S, and also through Xbox Gamepass.

The Ascent
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    Rating - 8/10
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TL;DR

Overall, The Ascent is a great addition to the cyberpunk genre. The graphics are stunning, the characters and story entertaining, and it’s available right now on Gamepass!