Friday, May 17, 2019

Ascendance: First Horizon Impressions - Refunct Did It All Better

The short-but-sweet first-person platforming with great presentation genre seems like it's becoming a thing - if two games counts as a "thing" - and I'm totally into it. For games like this to be a success, however, they have to absolutely nail every aspect. They have to feel good to play. They have to look and sound exceptional. And they need to be priced appropriately. 2017's Refunct set those standards on Xbox One and is a great experience that I highly recommend. Ascendance: First Horizon, on the other hand, totally misses the mark. Continue reading our impressions on why we don't exactly love it.

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Ascendance: First Horizon is a first-person platforming game where you start out in a mostly empty world that fills in with new blocks and obstacles as you activate mechanisms scattered around. As the world fills in the platforming gets trickier and new objects - jump pads, elevators - are added to help you get around. There are also hidden collectibles all over the place as well. If this sounds familiar, it's because Refunct did all of the exact same stuff.

Here's the difference, though. Refunct had really precise platforming that felt good and was fast and fluid and entertaining. Ascendance just plain doesn't feel as good. The physics are a little more floaty and imprecise and seem a little inconsistent from one jump to the next. Some platforms required for progression are spaced right at the extreme limits of your abilities, as well, and you have to hit them exactly perfect in order to make the jumps, which leads to frustration. The game also has a frustrating checkpoint system as well where your checkpoint is the last glowy sphere (that builds more of the world) and if your next objective is all the way across the map it gets pretty annoying when you repeatedly miss one of those aforementioned perfect jumps and have to trek all the way over there again. It just ain't fun.

The presentation is also a step down from what Refunct did. Refunct had great lighting and water and interesting texture work. Ascendance opted for a simpler untextured polygon look that, while appealing in its own way, isn't nearly as good looking as Refunct. Ascendance does have three separate levels, each with its own color palate and style, which is kind of nice, however.

All in all, Ascendance: First Horizon is a less polished, less fun, less good looking first-person platformer compared to its nearest competitor, which makes it hard to recommend. It also costs $6 compared to Refunct's $3 which, admittedly, isn't a huge difference and Ascendance is a longer game, but why pay more for an inferior experience? Sorry that I have to bring the hammer down on Ascendance, but if you're interested at all you should play Refunct instead.

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