The Ascent review – if looks could kill

Every last area in The Ascent is an astonishingly detailed diorama of Blade Runner-inspired dystopia. From the festering depths of the Deepstink – the industrial heart of the Ascent Group’s arcology – all the way up to the shimmering corporate luxury of the Pinnacle, every rusty gangway, rain-soaked noodle bar, granite boardroom, and neon-lit vista looks like a piece of concept art brought to life. Hover cars stream across the yawning chasm at the centre of the superstructure. Alien throngs shuffle through market hubs, every storefront inviting the crowd to stop and stare with neon displays, holograms, and nosebleed techno. This is a truly resplendent slice of hyper-urban despair.

Tarnishing this visual feast is the unavoidable realisation that this is probably one of the most derivative cyberpunk game worlds around, too. Entire buildings are plucked straight from Blade Runner, pedestrians wander the streets under umbrellas with neon poles, and gigantic nude holograms dance in the distance. The vocabulary is Gibson through and through, the alien species look like they’ve got lost on the way back from the Mos Eisley cantina, and despite the abundance of advanced tech everyone seems content with the good ol’ cathode-ray tube in their TVs. Sure, this world is brought to life with stunning attention to detail, but you’ve been here before.

You arrive in this disorganised crush as an indentured labourer, locked into a contract until death with the only hope of escape being to work your way up through the corporate world as a hired gun. To do that, you’ll pick up missions from gang leaders and mercenaries, sending you all over the superstructure to fetch things and kill people.

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