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Indie corner: Ascendant

Big AAA developers rule (ruin?) most of the gaming market while indie developers try everything to gain some fame. The contrast between both is huge. AAA developers have huge offices, several teams working together for a single game. Most Indie game developers don’t have the funds to work from offices and have to do with empty rooms, such as garages. One such example is Hapa Games, a 5 man strong game developer with their garage as office. This is their moment in the spotlight, with Ascendent

Hapa Games has released their 2D roguelike brawler game Ascendant on the consoles. However, we reviewed this game on pc, and a lot of frustration came from the hard controls and the lack of controller support (at least on Windows 10)

DemiGod

In Ascendant you are a DemiGod, who invades other rival DemiGods planes. These DemiGods will send out their minions to fight and kill you so it is up to you to be at your best and survive. Between the killing and slaughtering of your rivals armies, you will come across new weapons, spells, blessings, breaths (single use items) and spirits. There are many different types of each, some of them even have a different ability depending on where you use it (weapon, body or spell). Overall, there are enough options to keep the discovery of new stuff interesting through the game. however, there is a lack of information when you find new blessings and spirits. You only know the advantage once you have placed it in his permanent slot. This might result in an upgrade that doesn’t suit your play style, and sadly there is nothing you can do about that. Once you have picked up a new item, it stays with you until your death. You might find it again in another playthough, and only then it will reveal his upgrade.

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Hit and launch

The combat in Ascendant is easy with a nice twist on it. You fight with the left mouse button and the right mouse button allows you to launch the enemy in any direction you want. And, with a bit of luck, kill some of their friends in the process. Or launch them towards a spiked ceiling so they can work as a new ceiling decoration! You also have mana (used for spells) and single-use items (called breaths). Combat isn’t bound to the ground, the aerial combat is something worth mentioning. Fighting an enemy mid-air, launch them  towards a ground-bound friend while you dash towards another air mod is so smooth in this game, you will try to keep fighting in the air for as long as you can. Which isn’t always that easy, because you will have to use all your cunning to survive. Ascendant is a very unforgiving game since there is almost no healing option in the game. A single hit can have severe consequences because it is something you will take with you through your session.

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Seasons

Ascendant has procedurally generated levels which looks stunningly beautiful. Even better since the colour pallet changes with each level. Each level is a different season, with new mobs and is more difficult to survive. The algorithm Hapa Games uses to make their level is wonderful. They never feel unfinishable (unlike the Swindle) and manage to produce unique levels each time. Thanks to this, each new playthrough does feels like a new attempt of your demigod to invade his rivals panes and conquer them. And not only your DemiGod, Ascendent has a local co-op, which is always a nice feature.

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Control and conquer

The game says it has controller support, but at the time of the review, it is not possible to use a controller while playing on a Windows 10 pc. I wished it was possible to play with a controller, because the key combinations for keyboard require fingerbreaking moves. You can rebind keys, but I think a full controller support would have been better. This might be a bug only on Windows 10, because the controller I used vibrated when my DemiGod got hit, but I wasn’t able to use it nonetheless.

The good: The bad:
+ Level design – Controls
+ Combat – Lack of information
+ Co-op

 

3 out of 5:

3ster

 

Have been gaming for several decades. I love to play RPG and strategy games. My favorites are the Witcher series, Fallout series and The Elder Scrolls