The Ascent makes its debut on PS5 with a substantially unchanged technical set-up, except for the implementation of the DualSense features.
Eight months after its debut on PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X | S, The Ascent arrives in the PlayStation ecosystem with a version modeled to take advantage of the peculiarities of Sony’s new flagship. In this regard, the developers of Neon Giant they certainly did a good job in transposing their cyberpunk shooter to PS5, although some aspects of the offer would undoubtedly deserve greater attention. A consideration that resonates with the characteristics of a proposal which, although enjoyable, shows more of a lightness on the game design front.
A cyberpunk ordeal full of light and shadow
Before analyzing in detail the exclusive features of the PlayStation 5 version of The Ascent, it is worth spending a few words on what are the fundamental features of the Neon Giant title.
Set in the coils of a colossal megalopolis dominated by a pantheon of corporate titans, the work of the Swedish team puts the players in the shoes of an “Indent” (customizable through a not particularly generous editor), a piece of cannon fodder forced to serve the interests of one of these industrial giants. Precisely the sudden collapse of the Ascent Group represents the trigger for a campaign which, from massacre to massacre, it will see us clashing with the dystopian “status quo” of arcology, at the center of a web of galactic machinations and intrigues. Although based on rather intriguing premises, which put many of the typical themes of the cyberpunk trend at the center of the plot, the campaign set up by Neon Giant fails to give users a concrete incentive to engage, limiting itself to offering them a long list of pretexts to disseminate the metropolis of corpses and scraps of incandescent lead. On the other hand, the incredible charm of the world shaped by the developers partially manages to compensate for the shortcomings on the narrative sidefilling every shot with a blaze of neon lights, urban decay and superviolence.
As spectacular as they are, the shootings also contribute to highlighting the qualitative fluctuations of a playful plot that is not perfectly focused, which struggles to align with the considerable ambitions underlying the project. The roofing system, for example, it is implemented in a rather rudimentary way and the same can also be said for the aiming mechanics, which allow you to select two different lines of fire (one low and one high) but in fact limit this need to just a handful of circumstances.
In fact, in the vast majority of cases, the most functional approach will be that of throwing your head down against the opposing hordes letting the weapons sing until the enemies are transformed into a jumble of scarlet stains and offal.
Net of its naivety, the “twin stick shooting” model proposed by The Ascent is still pleasant, but it is clear that the title would have benefited considerably from a greater diversification of the situations offered by the gameplay, and from a better implementation of its cardinal dynamics.
A discourse that also concerns the role-playing component of production, which ultimately continues to have a relative impact on the production balance: if on the one hand the increase of the individual parameters of the character can in fact significantly alter his fighting effectiveness, on the other hand the progression system does not push users towards the creation of particularly varied builds, forged to accommodate specific styles of play . On the other hand, The Ascent’s “gameplay loop” follows a rather rigid script, without major variations on the theme of the massacre. This is not to say that the title of Neon Giant is not able to offer the audience a good amount of hours of fun, but it is undeniable that the potential of the formula has not been fully expressed, with perceptible consequences on the stability of the gameplay.
Taking note of the constant sense of wonder aroused by the panoramas of arcology, we would have liked, for example, a greater emphasis on exploring its sprawling districts, fragments of a futuristic fresco as evocative as it is brutal.
The wonders of Veles also shine on PS5
So we come to the key question of this article: how does The Ascent behave on PS5? The short answer is “good but not great“From a technical standpoint, the latest iteration of the Neon Giant title clearly shows all the merits of a monumental graphic sector supported by a great artistic direction, capable of enhancing the cyberpunk setting of the production without giving up.
The arcology of Veles is a mosaic of breathtaking views and precious details, which combine to reinforce the attractiveness of a not particularly memorable gameplay. In purely performance terms, we didn’t notice any noticeable changes from the latest version of the game for Xbox Series X (have you already read our review of The Ascent?), With a resolution set at 4K and a frame rate solidly anchored to the 60 fps threshold. Also on the audio side, the choral rendering of the title remains at excellent levels, in a concert of explosive effects and electronic music. As usual, the most significant addition is the support for DualSense features, a central element in the PlayStation generational philosophy. In this sense, the development team has done a good job of integrating the gameplay with a rich assortment of haptic stimuli which add a pleasant sensory note to every playful situation, from the shootings to the interaction with the game world, with the contribution of the speaker integrated into the pad, used to counterbalance most of the gameplay sounds.
The only real “caveat” is the failure to exploit adaptive triggers, which could have considerably increased the caliber of the feedback offered by the gunplay, as well as the character of the different guns available to the player. Another drawback, also present in the remaining versions, is represented by the not exactly lean uploads that mark the game experience, both as regards the start of the game, as well as for what concerns the waiting times triggered by the use of elevators or means of rapid travel.
Overall, however, the adaptation work carried out by the Uppsala team it has proved more than valid confirming the evident technical capabilities of a promising studio, which we hope will be able to reach its full creative potential in the future.
Version Analyzed PlayStation 5
The Ascent is presented on PS5 with an offer substantially comparable to that of the counterpart for Xbox Series X, obviously considering the state of the game after the updates published in the months following the launch. For this reason, the latest edition of the Neon Giant title keeps intact its balance of strengths and weaknesses, the latter for the most part linked to some superficiality too much in the playful definition of the title. As usual, the most distinctive element of the proposal is represented by the support for the DualSense functionalities, exploited rather well but not completely. In fact, we would have appreciated if the developers had used the adaptive triggers to give more force to the gunplay, instead of limiting themselves to the combination of haptic feedback – integrated speaker. Net of this stumbling block, however, we can confirm the positive outcome of the adaptation work carried out by Neon Giant, authors of an excellent transposition.