The 2D action platformer resurgence continues with Ascendant. But how long can it continue?
Before playing Ascendant it had been a fair few years since I’d played an action platformer, the game took me back to days and games gone by. Games such as Comix Zone, Another World and Viewtiful Joe ran through my mind, however Ascendant manages to conjure these memories while being totally dissimilar to all of the aforementioned titles. You play as a demigod, invading a world controlled by your rivals, battling through stages based on the 4 seasons (not the 60’s group), you must hack and slash your way to victory. Your demigod has a number of maneuvers in its arsenal from the get go, a sword is your main weapon however you have the use of magic as well, all of which are upgradeable as you progress through the game.
The control system is intuitive and easy to master, your sword has two basic forms of attack, hit the crap out of your enemies until they have a yellow halo meaning they are stunned, from there you can launch them into other enemies to cause damage. This launching mechanism is used for one of the early bosses, a giant version of the main cannon fodder enemies is trapped in a cage sending out waves of enemies, which you must then dizzy and launch back at him in an attempt to send his cage crashing to the ground, thus defeating him. Using your left stick to aim, your sword can be used to deflect magic back at your enemies, which takes a little bit of practice to master but once you have done so pulling the move off will be a breeze.
The levels are split into single screens which act as a series of trials which must be completed before the next room is unlocked, the difficulty can be frustrating sometimes and you will find yourself cursing at the screen as you die and have to start all over again. This is where Ascendant gets a tad annoying, the game uses a permadeath mechanic so if you die then that is it, no respawning or continues, you die and you start again from a totally new scenario. This confused the hell out of me the first few times I died, and I was left wanting to attempt the last level again and found it frustrating that I couldn’t do so. The boss battles are fun, set in a confined space with pre-determined rules on how to beat each boss, learning the correct patterns can be fun and rewarding and luckily you do not have to complete every screen to access them, however there isn’t enough of them and unfortunately these segments are the highlight of the game.
The trouble with Ascendant is that it can very samey, trudging through the same types of levels with only a change in season and the odd boss fight to mix things up a bit. The music is nice but very repetitive and I found that I wanted to mute the game after about 10 minutes. Hapa have created a game which frustrates and delights, unfortunately not in equal measure, I had fun playing but I couldn’t find enough to keep me interested in the long term. There are few flashes of excellence but not enough to keep the game from feeling disappointing, I was left hoping the next screen would be a boss battle, and if it wasn’t, wondering if I could be bothered to trudge through another screen to see if the next one was.
Developers/Publishers: Hapa Games
Ascendant is available now.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a review code from the publishers.
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