Ascendant is a 2D, side scrolling, beat-em-up co op game that is as frustratingly difficult as it is fun. Carebears beware – if you pick up Ascendant, you WILL die – over and over and over again – but you will also likely keep playing out of sheer determination to beat the game. The entire goal of Ascendant is to defeat all of the bosses. The game prides itself on being difficult, and it difficult it is. Aside from the fights requiring you to use every trick you have up your sleeve, If you die, you die. There are no 1ups, checkpoints, saves, or anything else of the sort. If you die you start over, period.
You play one of a few demigods that have one goal; to destroy every living creature on the world you are sent to invade. There really isn’t much in the way of plot, but there doesn’t have to be with combat mechanics that are this satisfying. To be sure, you have your basic enemies that you can just run up to and button mash to death – but it is not long before your button mashing days come to an end. The enemies in Ascendant (especially the bosses) are absolutely ruthless, and require you to master swordplay, spells, dodging, and countering, while still relying heavily on timing and fast reaction times.
The aesthetics in Ascendant are beautiful as 2D games go, and the fluid gameplay accentuates the artwork tenfold. What really makes the game shine in my eyes is the local co op. Granted, it does dumb down the difficulty a little bit to have two players, but the experience of working together with another demi-god to slaughter hordes upon hordes of monsters is just too satisfying.
I still haven’t managed to beat the game solo, but I can’t recommend this one highly enough. If you are a fan of side scrollers, beat em up games, or platformers – give this one a try – you wont regret it!
Ben is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of PCGR. He writes much of the content, manages the site, and does other editorial things that would bore you to tears.