The Ascent, Neon Giant's tribute to Cyberpunk culture

Who I am
Philippe Gloaguen
@philippegloaguen
Author and references

From its very first steps, The Ascent he has been able to demonstrate that he has enormous potential. I admit it: burned a little by what Cyberpunk 2077 could not give me, to be able to breathe that atmosphere back to Blade Runner, in videogame sauce and with very different ways and modalities, it immediately intrigued me.

The first work of the young Neon Giant team, available since day one on the Game Pass for PC and consul, he has been able to demonstrate that he has that spark that not all productions can boast, even though, in the long run, it has inevitably shown the side of various gaps that are in some ways also understandable and predictable.



Having made this necessary premise, it is right to underline a fundamental aspect, at least for my personal taste: The Ascent is a title. fun, complex, intriguing and tremendously difficult (in some sections), so much so that I regret Sekiro on several occasions and for this very reason he was able to capture me.

Let me be clear, it was not an easy journey, nor a riot of videogame happiness all the time, but it is certainly an adventure that I highly recommend to everyone, especially to those who are in possession of a subscription to the always praised Game. Pass. Because, let's face it, The Ascent is probably not a title for everyone, but it knows how to hit the right chords at the right time on more than one occasion.

A world to explore (and experience)

The Ascent is a very courageous product, in several respects, and the narrative and thematic component is one of those, albeit more than ever full of more or less evident external inspirations and influences. The narrative imprint is very clear, but also very layered, albeit in the details. As a member of a large corporation, The Ascent, our alter ego moves in a city born of the most classic cyberpunk influence, made of lights from the signs of large factories, dark streets and lots and lots of desolation.



A cyberpunk world that knows how to be very ruthless

As a company employee, subjected and almost lobotomized by the strong powers of the most important corporations, our protagonist, created through a very limited editor, takes his steps, forced to fight for survival, in a terribly hostile and threatening world. The Ascent is structured in the most classic of ways into main missions and secondary assignments, which are fundamental for the understanding and knowledge of the game world which, unlike it may seem, actually has a lot to say.

It is a real riot of lore and notions to discover gradually, the game of the young development team, which wants to leave the player the taste of exploring and letting himself be transported into the game world without "weighing down" everything with an overwhelming story, but by packaging a narrative system that is very much based on exploration and knowledge, obtainable by exploring, reading and experiencing the city in the most intelligent and "hungry" way possible.

In this scenario, paradoxically, the main story is less interesting, although it remains interesting for all the (approximately) 15-16 hours of play necessary to be completed.

The gameplay: a particular shooter with little relevant role-playing elements

Net of the narrative, stylistic and structural branches, it is clear how the fulcrum of the production lies in its gameplay and in particular in what is the cornerstone of a similar production: the gunplay.

From this point of view, The Ascent brings to the screen a system as simple as it is satisfying, which leverages a system typical of the shooters of the past based on the use of a few buttons used for action and which, on balance, it works great, albeit with some important reservations. The gunplay of the Neon Giant title is a real pleasure for the senses, thanks to that desire to be frantic, adrenaline and "caciarone" from the very first bars, as I like it, also taking advantage of the generous amount of enemies on screen present on more than one occasion.



The game's weapons contribute not a little to increase the sense of satisfaction, all "unique" in some way, or in any case able to return a always different feedback according to the guns held, freely selectable after assignment in a menu that allows you to equip two at a time, one secondary and one main, switchable at any time.

The result is more and more difficult and complex firefights, also due to a decidedly higher level of challenge, which require the player an ever greater effort, by the hour. Unfortunately, however, on a playful level the title, more than once, has given me the feeling of being just this, that is, a pure and raw shooter, which would not be a problem, if it were not for the fact that the game is accompanied by an important role component, at least on paper.

This is precisely one of the main shortcomings of the game. I have never felt the need to put a lot of hands on the various equipment or to diversify the approach to battles, even the same weapons, since it was often enough for us to master and better control the actions on the field of our alter ego. to achieve success, even against bosses, including the most challenging ones.

And it's a shame: The Ascent tried it and on paper brought a product with many good intentions to the screen, starting from the creation of the avatar to the management of the other aspects of the game, but in the end he failed a bit in building a play system beyond the shooter component of the game, which still remains solid and incredibly fun.

Ah no, there is a nit: the aim. I wonder, after playing with it, whether or not this stylistic choice is the fruit of the devil, as the good Maccio would say, but we will probably never receive a real answer to this question.



Technique and artistic realization

One of the most successful aspects of The Ascent is undoubtedly that linked to the technical and manufacturing aspect of the production. The development team has been able to work hard from this point of view, packaging a product that knows how to take inspiration from the genre to which it belongs in the best possible way, showing off an incredibly fascinating look, made with sometimes manic detail.

The game world, Veles, in its classic cold and gloomy realization, typical of cyberpunk inspiration, is fascinating, pulsating, alive and characteristic, capturing the player in a stylistic and sensorial riot in some truly enviable passages. The Ascent is in fact supported by an almost commendable artistic-structural realization, especially if we take into account in particular the settings and the various locations, an aspect on which the development team has been able to give the best of itself.

If the polygonal modeling of human characters or in any case of "living" creatures stops only at an overall "normal" level of realization, what stands out is undoubtedly that of the settings, with attention to the smallest details, accompanied by an incredibly solid technical structure.

During my testing, I tested the game on both Xbox Series X on both mid-range PCs, connecting it alternately to one TV 4K HDR 10 it's a Monitor gaming with resolution 2K and with HDR 10, complete with support for ai 120hz, remaining each time entranced by the chromatic and sensorial riot of the production. The Ascent runs commendably on both machines and with both outputs, resulting in a real stylistic and technical jewel, a small taste of the potential of a next-gen only at the beginning but which is already knowing how to give small and big emotions.

To make the big voice are elements such as particles and lighting, both aspects of the utmost importance for the development team and, on balance, two aces in the hole for the young guys of Neon Giant. In particular on X series the title also sports a very good one raytracing, which pushes the two aforementioned aspects to a higher level and makes the experience on a sensory level even more satisfying.

The management of the menus and the general interface, on the other hand, appear old and chaotic, somehow breaking the general magic that the Neon Giant jewel has been able to restore. The sound also appeared to us to be of an excellent level, although the absence of the Italian localization could discourage a slice of users, a slice that is actually increasingly (fortunately) small and that is slowly learning to look beyond this aspect.

USEFUL INFO

I played The Ascent on both PC and Series X, connected to a gaming monitor and a 4K HDR 10 TV. It took me about 16 hours to finish the adventure.

Duration
  • About fifteen hours for the main campaign, paying little attention to ancillary activities.
Structure
  • Frantic and spectacular shooter, with elements of a twin stick shooter with a lot of role-playing elements that are actually very sketchy.
  • The game is divided between main missions and side missions.
Collectibles and Extras
  • In the game there are several Codex, which broaden the story and enrich the narrative background significantly.

The Ascent is an overall successful experiment. The title of Neon Giant works and convinces as regards the charm of the setting and stylistic choices in general, but it inevitably loses a few strokes if we analyze elements such as variety of settings, situations and playful possibilities. The twin stick shooting system works, although some choices are not very happy, but the uncertainties relating to the role-playing aspect of the game, all too marginal, are felt in the calculation will slow down the experience that remains more than enjoyable, even if representing a small "lost" opportunity to rise towards a higher quality level.

Review by Salvatore Cardone
Graphics

Splendid to see and to make, The Ascent is a real sensory triumph, accompanied by an almost smudge-free and excellent technical realization. The artistic realization is also very beautiful, which wisely draws from such products with great skill.

88
SOUNDTRACK AND DOUBLE ROOM

Good dubbing and sound creation in general, accompanied by a soundtrack overall discreet but never truly memorable.

70
GAMEPLAY

The Ascent is a very cool shooter, but sadly it all stops there. The role-playing elements of the game are all too sketchy and push the player to focus almost exclusively on firefights and little else.

80
Total Rating scale
78
Did you like the article? Share it!
Audio Video The Ascent, Neon Giant's tribute to Cyberpunk culture
add a comment of The Ascent, Neon Giant's tribute to Cyberpunk culture
Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.