Im currently playing through The Ascent, and to be honest, im not really in love with it.
At the very least, it is a decent change of pace from a massive RPG, but the game isn't really doing it for me.
This is an isometric twin-stick shooter, set in a grimy/cyberpunk setting. And to be honest, I really cannot fault the visual or audio presentation here. The game is frankly gorgeous, even when you are surrounded by mostly dirt and rust, let alone when the backdrop opens up, the rain starts falling, and there are neon signs everywhere. The amount of detail packed into every environment is incredibly impressive, and in this regard, it receives only glowing praise from me.
Unfortunately, the gameplay isn't quite up to the same standard. Frankly, there isn't really much going on with it. At its best, it is kind of dull, and at its worst, it is pretty frustrating.
So this is mostly a shooter, though there are a couple of melee weapons, but the guns are a lot more boring than I would have liked. You do have ballistic weapons, and energy weapons, and heat based weapons, etc, but they all fall into the same few classic categories of guns - pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, etc. So far, the only unique weapon that I have found, is a minigun that shoots rockets, that is sadly much less effective than it sounds. Other than that, the roster of weapons has so far been very uneventful, which doesn't make combat particularly exciting at the best of times.
One issue with the shooting though, is it feels really inconsistent. Enemy hitboxes are seemingly incredibly unforgiving, with projectiles appearing to pass straight through some enemies, without causing any damage. Of course this happens with automatic weapons too, but it especially makes the single shot weapons feel really frustrating to use, because shots that look like they landed, in fact end up missing entirely. Rapid-fire weapons are definitely the way to go, which is fine, but it does unfortunately eliminate a decent chunk of the armoury.
The game does attempt to spice things up with its gadgets, and some are pretty fun, like summoning a small army of kamikaze robot spiders, but outside of a few niche uses for your offensive abilities, these slots are generally best saved for support abilities, because it is generally just quicker/easier to just shoot enemies, than try to set up any of your gadgets.
Another frustration is with the navigation. There are free fast travel stations that take you to other free fast travel stations, or you can pay for a taxi to take you to a waypoint, but actually walking around the gameworld is really slow. There is no sprint button, so you are forced to sometimes just slowly jog from one side of the map, to the other, often passing through low-level areas, where you just one-shot a lot of enemies, running around for minutes at a time, to reach your destination. It is a bit of a slog.
This game is apparently relatively short, and im about half way through - and I am really enjoying the art design - so I will probably finish it. But as things are, I don't think this one is going to be getting a glowing review from me.