In Ascent, you awake in an unknown, alien environment, seemingly as the result of crashing with your spaceship. The game is a minimal metroidvania, and clearly took inspiration from the aesthetics of Super Metroid – but it doesn’t stop by recreating the sonic and visual atmosphere, but instead condenses the melancholy that was hidden by the strange exoticism of the archetypes world.
The game basically works without fighting, instead you got to clear jumping passages – some of them a bit tricky, but none is really hard. Over the course of the game, you collect new movement options that let you enter deeper into the world, and collect fragments about its history. The movement feels good, and the difficulty seems well enough adjusted – neither boring nor frustrating.
The best thing about this game are the really well executed aesthetics: The visual art and music are absolutely nailed, and the strong zoom caused by the low resolution intensifies both the ambience of forlorness and abandonment and the beauty of the presented world. The sparse storytelling works well, and while there is clearly a environmental message, there is much room for interpretation in the end.
Ascent is a damn well made little game. The gameplay is good, the story atmospheric, and the pixelart, colordesign, music and usage of the graphical effects is quite striking. If you give it a shot, the game will give you some dense, satisfying, and atmospheric thirty minutes.
Ascend is available for Linux, Windows or Apple or can be played within browser. Both options worked out of the box for me, though you might want to disable Fullscreen when running it native.
After playing and checking on the developer, Johan Peitz, I realized that they did quite a few games I played around 20 years ago – namely Icy Towers (which I remade when doing „Acid Flight“) and Freetris. Glad to see they are still around.