Ascent of Kings is an eShop game from Nostatic Software, and I grabbed it due to my enjoyment of the developer’s previous Wii U game, The Quiet Collection. Instead of The Quiet Collection‘s point-and-click adventuring, exploration-based platforming in the vein of Metroid is the order of the day here.
In spite of this difference in genre, Ascent of Kings looks a hell of a lot like The Quiet Collection aesthetically, for better or for worse. Its enviroments (mostly mountains and caves) are all depicted in the most basic blocky pixel art imaginable, and the characters and enemies are all sprites that would have looked dated during the 8-bit era. As was the case with The Quiet Collection, though, this didn’t really stand in the way of my enjoyment.
The goal puts you in the shoes of a young boy who must compete with his brothers in a series of trials, in order to become the king of the realm, or some shit like that. It’s really not important. What matters is that you have to traverse the gameworld to find 8 shrines, earning new abilities that allow you to access new areas, Metroidvania-style. This structure means that the game features one of my all-time favorite things a video game can have: an awesome old-school map screen:
The abilities you gain are pretty standard (double-jumps and the like), but like most games of this ilk, the freedom to explore they give you makes discovering them pretty exciting. The controls are pretty tight too, especially when compared to many other indie platformers of this type – even difficult challenges never feel overly frustrating or unfair; they just make you want to get back on your feet and try again.
So yeah, Ascent of Kings is a pretty fun little game, but it has one major flaw: its length. After about 45 minutes of playing, I had reached the final shrine and “beaten” the game:
Then, after a cigarette break and about 10 more minutes of playing, I found the four remaining bonus shrines:
My total playtime was 1 hour and 3 minutes, including the cigarette break. In that time I exhausted every bit of content the game had to offer, including a minute or two running around during the fun interactive credits sequence:
Because of this issue, I’m a little hesitant to recommend the game. Even for its meager $2 price tag, this seems like a little bit of a rip-off. On the other hand, $2 is basically a completely disposable amount of money and less than most of us spend on our morning cup of coffee, so I dunno. Is $2 worth it for an hour of gameplay? The decision is yours, and all I can tell you is that you will spend that hour having a pretty decent time.
Human Resource Machine