The Ascent
Maximum PC|October 2021
C-beams glitter in the dark
IAN EVENDEN

THE INTRO TO BLADE RUNNER, but with way more shooting, seems to be the elevator pitch here, and it works extremely well. As an indentured laborer on the planet Veres, paying off the cost of your new life on the off-world colony with your body, you are at the bottom of the pile. Quite literally. They call it the Deepstink, and you’re sent down on a new character in an RPG mission to reset the computer that’s not clearing the sewage so your betters, who live higher up the arcology, aren't showering in manure. You need somewhere to ascend from, after all.

LOCKDOWN MISSION

It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so dangerous. This early mission is straightforward enough—you go in with your gun, blast a few ferals, hack a few doors, watch some robots at work, reset the computer’s memory. It was a bit like getting back into the Maximum PC office after the Covid lockdown was lifted.

Shooting is a twin-stick affair, the left one handling character movement while the right controls shooting direction. The camera is fixed, which can occasionally mean some higher part of the level getting in the way, but rarely. There’s a dodge roll to get you out of packs of melee-only enemies and dodge the telegraphed incoming artillery fire, but most of the time you’ll just have that trigger clamped down as you dance your laser sight across the pack that’s running at you.

There’s a cover system, mastery of which is key to combat, but early opportunities are few. So many fights turn into a procession, running backward while kiting a few ferals that mindlessly run at you. The first time you encounter a boss it’s in an open donut-shaped arena with few places to hide. The cover does come, as pieces of the disintegrating superstructure come to your aid.

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