When supported, the PS5’s DualSense controller can really add that next-gen feel to a game.
The latest example is The Ascent, released on Xbox consoles and PC last July. It wowed us with its visuals on Xbox Series X back then, but thanks to impressive DualSense support on PS5, it’s more immersive than ever before. We honestly couldn’t imagine playing it on any other format.
Haptic feedback allows you to feel the world around you – everything from bullet shots to large vehicles moving nearby. Even more impressive, however, is The Ascent‘s use of the DualSense’s speaker. Various aspects of the game’s audio are pushed through the speaker rather than your TV, creating a layered effect that really draws you into the action. Sometimes, you feel like you’re actually there. Only a muted attempt at utilising the adaptive triggers lets it down.
Beyond the noteworthy DualSense implementation, it’s somewhat unfortunate that The Ascent remains pretty much the same game as when we reviewed it last year. While it’s an enjoyable fusion of the action RPG and twin-stick shooter genres set in a immaculately detailed cyberpunk world, we find its story a bit lacking. It fails to draw you into the action and make you care.
There are gameplay issues too. It can feel quite unbalanced at times, something we hoped would have been fixed by now. It’s common to go from mercilessly killing a screen full of goons with ease, to finding yourself in a crumpled heap on the ground, lifeless. Thankfully there isn’t much of a penalty for dying. It would help if you could have a store of health packs to use in the heat of battle, rather than them being used automatically as you walk over them.
It’s a shame that these issues hold the gameplay back, as ultimately there’s a very enjoyable experience to have here. And it’s one that can be shared with others. While The Ascent can certainly be enjoyed alone, it shines in co-op where you can work with other players to overcome the odds. You perhaps won’t even mind that there’s not a great range of weapons on offer; with other ways to customise your futuristic mercenary, you can still feel suitably unique.
There’s a range of cybernetic enhancements to be had, for example, imparting you with various special skills and boosts. You’re also free to distribute your skill points in any way you see fit, so if you want to be tanky, you can do that. And every piece of equipment you equip changes your appearance. Though if you’re not happy, there are weapon skins available, and transmog options for your armour.
Ultimately, then, if you’re after a twin-stick shooter with the added depth of an action RPG to play with your friends, chances are you’ll love The Ascent. Those who like to play alone might get a kick out of it, too, providing they can live with the frustrations that arise from its unbalanced nature. It’s a shame that its story doesn’t make any impact, but with a world so detailed and alive, you might not care all that much. You’ll just be having fun exploring every nook and cranny while shooting bad guys, more immersed than ever before thanks to DualSense.
The Ascent is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC