ASCENDANCE – The Switch Island Review
ASCENDANCE is a 3D platformer that asks you to enter and experience an enchanting and peaceful journey to the sky and beyond, shaping your way with mysterious abilities as you rise with the enchanted wind platforms beyond the skies. Developer Onevision hope to offer you the player a tranquil, calming experience, and on first impression the soothing synthwave soundtrack and minimalist visuals give the impression of a game that has succeeded.
Unfortunately ASCENDANCE offers so little as an experience that it is is hard for me to provide a single compelling case as to why you should spend your time with this game. It just kind of exists, and whilst that might seem like unfair criticism, it just didn’t do anything to elicit a response from me during my playtime.
Speedrunners may have some fun with it as they scale increasingly elevated platforms and collect hidden icons as they go, but for anyone expecting a gameplay ‘hook’, prepare to come away disappointed.
If ASCENDANCE made me feel passionate about anything, it’s the floaty controls. Running in a straight line and executing jumps made for in an incredibly frustrating time, and although the game employs a checkpoint system that drops you back in where you left off (most of the time) this isn’t enough as things are hardly compelling to begin with, and totally unforgivable for a game where precise controls are so important.
Another cardinal sin? The total lack of an option to invert the Y-axis for the in-game camera. This might not matter to some, but to others who are a bit back-to-front like me, it’s a truly startling omission for a dedicated first person experience in 2019 and something that should be addressed.
The visuals are fine for what they are. The minimalist style works and is actually welcome as it doesn’t distract you as you navigate each of the game’s three worlds. What is distracting however are the framerate issues. Coupled with the issue of floaty controls, this only creates more problems in a game that requires you to be precise.
Overall the game just isn’t any fun. I wasn’t expecting waypoint markers or a host of ‘quality of life’ features, but a massive issue was not having the foggiest on where you have to go as the lighting effects used to indicate checkpoints reached aren’t always clear. Being lost might not be a new experience to many, but in a game as dull and unengaging as this one, that creates a massive problem.
In summary, ASCENDANCE just wasn’t for me. I enjoy most games that lean heavily into creating a feeling of peace and tranquility, but I felt neither of those things as I played. Frustration at the controls and framerate issues? Perhaps. Apathy at the uninteresting game design and lack of rewards or incentives to keep playing? Most definitely.
Developer: Onevision Games
Release date: 09/05/2019