oOo: Ascension is not for the faint of heart given it’s steadily increasing difficulty that makes for intense play sessions.
oOo: Ascension is a fast-paced arcade game by sole developer Kenny Creanor and published by Extra Mile Studios. The game originally released on Xbox in May 2018, Steam in September and Nintendo Switch in October 2018, and now most recently released on PlayStation 4 on January 31, 2020. In watching the game’s trailer, to me it looked like a cool sci-fi puzzle-style game and had some awesome music. I have been into my puzzle games lately so thought I would give it a go. Hooley dooley, I am writing this review 45 minutes after finishing another hour of playing it and my heart is still pumping hard. It got the adrenalin going due to that feeling of triumph when you complete something that you found frustratingly difficult.
Think of old games like Wipeout, Rollcage, Trailblazers and even Super Meat Boy, only bring in the play area to a small rotating sphere in space and this is how oOo: Ascension feels. You are a small triangular spaceship and must navigate from point A to point B as fast as possible and without dying. That is the basic premise of the game but there is also a ‘par time’ to beat. However, this game throws lots of spanners at you to throw you off and the difficulty ramps up at a crazy rate. As you navigate the narrow pathways using the left mouse button on PC, you cannot touch any walls or fall off edges, and you must avoid things like spinning blades, laser beams and numerous other obstacles that get harder to navigate. Using the right mouse button boosts your ship which is handy to escape some traps or quickly get on/off a moving platform.
The first few worlds, each with 10 levels, are a good entry into the game. There is no tutorial, it’s just tough love learning by making mistakes. At first I would do my best to beat the par time but after a while I just went into survival mode and just focused on finishing. One good thing is once you complete a level, you can see your previous ghost, so it drives you to complete it faster. Or, like my most recent play session, it helped me to get to the bloody end. The sphere spins in various directions, and each run through spins slightly different, so it is hard to get your bearings. You pretty much just need to move forward and deal with what comes at you. There is no other way to describe it really. You really learn by doing in this game.
You will die, a lot. You know a game is hard when one of the achievements is die 1000 times. Dying is a learning experience and a frustration. I do not mind continuously dying in a game, but when the game is moving so fast and you rely on muscle memory for movement, it can get frustrating. Even more so when you die while trying to get off a moving platform. The game respawns you in the exact place you died. If you died whilst getting off a moving platform, it keeps respawning you in the death zone over and over until the platform moves over that location. I would have expected you to respawn either on the platform you tried to get off, or the last solid location prior to getting onto the platform. This would ease a lot of the frustration I experienced.
In saying that, even though I am still raging a little inside, it feels bloody good to finally beat a stage and eventually that world of 10 stages. In the early stages of the game, I felt like trying to beat my own times to see how quick I could do them. There are global leaderboards too if you want to measure yourself against others. However, after about the 4th world, I just went into survival mode and I just wanted to finish each bloody level. And holy sh*t, did some of the levels make me rage. It is not the game’s fault; I just do not have the twitch reflexes required to 100% this game. I am just content with saying I completed each stage. But man did I need to take some breaks, phew!
I loved the glowing visuals of the game and it runs super smooth. The electronic soundtrack emphasises the speed of the game but also gets you into the right tempo to tackle the challenges. I also love the clever intricacies of the level design, particularly the later worlds where it just gets bloody crazy with lasers and saw blades and rotating barriers trying to smash you. It sure does get quite insane and intense. You can also play local-coop or remote play with friends over Steam which is cool.
Overall, I gave the game a 7.5/10. oOo: Ascension is not for the faint of heart given it’s steadily increasing difficulty that makes for intense play sessions. It is a very cleverly designed game by a sole developer and is built for gamers with good reflexes. Global leaderboards let you measure yourself against others, I just struggled with the ever-increasing difficulty and had to take regular breaks to calm myself down. I enjoyed playing it in short bursts.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis