I don’t think Ascendant likes me very much.

At least, that has to be the reasoning behind why it keeps punishing me. Every fight in this 2.5D roguelike beat-em-up is an elegant ballet where the wrong step could end with you face-first in a pit of spikes or standing on top of a container of explosives. This is handy because you never stop fighting for more than a few seconds.

You play as the “Ascendant”, a demi-god looking to take down the reigning gods of the world. You do this by going through various arenas and beating everything into submission with your mighty sword. It wears its influences proudly, as you move through a procedurally generated series of randomly laid out rooms bringing the pain and searching for loot to enhance your survivability. It’s reminiscent of The Binding of Isaac but it does share DNA with 2D classics like Streets of Rage and Golden Axe.

The interesting gameplay hook here is the mobility of combat, you dash through the air, launching enemies into spikes and deflecting projectiles as you move towards end-of-level bosses. While you can simply hammer your enemies into oblivion, the best way to do it is to beat them into a “stagger” state, during which you can launch them into solid objects to kill them instantly. This keeps the combat interesting and keeps you moving around during the fights, coming up with tactics on the fly.


Pair this with a handful of playable characters and a series of upgrades that affect you in different ways depending on how you choose to assign them. None of these upgrades or characters change the game too much but add their own little challenges or quirks. Skill and a lot of luck with serve you best going forwards, but it’s nice to have a few toys to alter the game.

The gameplay alone is strong enough to recommend it, and it’s not hurt by stunning aesthetics. You’re fighting your way through the seasons and every season has its own sound and look that fit it well, and while you’re primarily here for the fighting, the cartoony flair to the design makes it a joy to travel through and it’s clear that some thought has gone into it.

Unfortunately, a lot of the difficulty that the game boasts is due in part to bad luck, an incredibly precise parry (the hardest to pull off I’ve ever seen) and very sparse health pick-ups. It’s definitely not easy, and a lot of your deaths will feel totally unfair. This is a bad thing™ and this goes double when you lose everything you’ve worked on over the last half an hour.

There’s also not an absolute ton of content, which limits the amount of discovery you can do. I think it’s a worthwhile purchase if you enjoy some brawling with your videogames though, and although the price ($9.99 at time of writing) is a little steep for the content, I had a great time.

Local co-op is included but I didn’t get a chance to test this out for the full experience. I opted to play this with a controller and recommend that.

Store page: http://store.steampowered.com/app/296930/

Review: Ascendant
A fantastic brawler without enough content for its price point.
  • Aerial Combat
  • Inventive combat mechanics
  • Great art
  • Thin on content
  • Feels unfair
7Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

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