Title: Ascendant
Platform: PC, Linux, Mac, Steam, GOG

Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Rogue-like, Action, Adventure, Brawler
Players: Single player, Local Co Op

Written by Whistler 3rd October 2014


Continuing with the 2014 tradition of rogue-likes, Ascendant is a side scrolling rogue-like brawler that boasts a rather unforgiving gameplay along with lots of random generation and procedurally generated maps in the same vein as The Binding of Isaac, and Rogue Legacy.

Ascendant has you assuming one of seven demi gods where for whatever reason will invade your rival’s realms carving a path of destruction as you eliminate all zealots and creatures in your path.

But hey who needs context when you’re a super powered avatar slashing your way through hordes of foes, picking up loot and taking down bosses.

Once you’re thrown into the fray you’ll spend your time going between interconnected chambers cutting down your foes and looking for loot while preparing for the next boss. As mentioned worlds are randomly generated so your experience will change each time (well mostly); once you enter a chamber you will need to fight off all would be attackers to progress to other rooms and pick up your reward for beating the room’s enemies.

Thankfully you won’t be just fighting endlessly from one room to the next as there are special rooms containing chests, merchants and challenges (though pretty much every challenge ended my runs).

Once you reach the boss room of the level you’ll come up against one of the various hulking monstrosities each requiring a different mind-set from the last.

Some of these bosses are rather creative too, like the ever evasive Burrower that requires you to chuck the minions he spawns into him or Grunty, an oversized minion that stands aloft in a tower till you knock it down.

Granted though while in Binding of Isaac you would have ample time to figure out the boss’s pattern and then react; I never really felt I was given the same legroom in Ascendant. I often felt like I was just bashing my head against the wall till I got lucky, and not just for the bosses.

While combat is enjoyable Ascendant just feels overly reliant on it’s random generation; 9/10 of my runs would be end horribly as I struggle to scrape by the first few levels due to the lack of power ups or keys making it impossible to spend what little influence (Ascendant’s currency) I accrued.

All of these little issues are far too common and end with me just chucking myself into the boss’s face hoping they give up out of sympathy.

But maybe I’m just horrible at this game and lack the commitment like I had with Binding of Isaac or Risk of Rain. It can be said though that controls and as previously mentioned combat are spot on, while Ascendant spares no expense on reminding me how much I suck at it the controls are nicely fleshed out and are easy to pick up with a simple, one button for attack, another for a stagger attack, a jump, a dash, a guard and a magic attack which you can pare these up for some nice combos.

Fighting strikes a nice balance between smooth and almost cinematic experience where you’ll lunge towards enemies, have mid-air skirmishes and send your foes flying which can be enjoyed with a friend locally, so long as you can convince them to give the game another go after you thrown abuse at them for the fifth time (I mean really who steals health when they’re almost full hearts and then dies a second later).

As to be expected in a rogue-like, death is the ultimate punishment where upon your death all the blessings, influence and such are lost to the void.

Where in Binding of Isaac you cry momentarily and start again as you look forward to new combinations, in Ascendant you’ll more than likely just be exhausted as you ready yourself to go through the same notions with little noticeable variety.

Ascendant is by no means a bad game, it just didn’t strike a chord with myself no matter how many times I threw myself into that wall.

Maybe with the implementation of an online Co Op I’d maybe be more favourable towards this addition to the rogue-like genre but as it stands Ascendant still finds itself in the grey area; I won’t be sinking tons of hours into it, but I don’t quiet feel like deleting it from my Steam library yet either.


Interesting visuals,

Enjoyable combat,

Easy to play, difficult to master.


Little noticeable variety,

Can be too punishing at times,
Local only Co Op.

Final verdict,

Ascendant doesn’t ascend to my permanent Steam library collection, but it does get a 6/10.

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