Ascent of Kings – Wii U

Ascent of Kings is the latest effort from Nostatic software, are a fairly prolific studio for the Wii U eShop, specialising in bite-sized retro throwbacks. This game has been in North America a while but it’s finally made its way to Europe.

What’s interesting about Ascent of Kings and will instantly get your attention is that it’s a 2D Metroidvania-style platformer, albeit a very brief one.

The story is very simple. The King is dead and the search for a successor has begun. In this particular kingdom any able man is able to attempt a trials to see if they are good enough to be King. Being the youngest of four brothers, you are initially stopped from taking on the trials, but it’s not long before you’re on your way.

It’s a very simple game highly focused on platforming and making your way through the maze like structure in an attempt to reach the Shrine of Kings to claim your place on the throne.

Initially you only have a simple jump button as you jump up and across areas, avoiding enemies and barrels. Very soon you’ll be coming across your brothers at various stage, they are sat too injured go on. As a result, they each will give you an item that will give you a new ability for example; a double jump or the ability to climb vines. Each time you get a new ability the world opens up a little more.

On your way to the Shrine of Kings you will come across 12 lesser shrines. Some of them are plainly in your path but a few of them are well hidden. Some of them will given you even more abilities such as breath longer underwater, stomp through unstable ground and even glide for a short time. For a game of such short length, they really packed in a lot of different abilities and they are all well utilised.

And the game is short. Seeing the end credits took me about half an hour, although getting 100% via finding all the lesser shrines took me a tad longer as a couple were fairly well hidden. Overall, I spent 50 minutes with the game which is short, especially as there is nothing for replayability, but it’s priced accordingly.

I think it’s a well-designed game to be honest. It’s certainly not bad. Making my way through the maze like worlds was fun. It packs a few different environments and hazards that vary the gameplay up. Puzzles are not hard by any means, in fact they’re really very simple, usually involved pulling a timed lever to open a door or hitting switches with your slingshot.

The game controls fine enough, I think the jumping is a little clunky at times, especially when you’re on the top of an animal that supposed to give you a boost, often it failed to read a double jump I tried, usually leading to death. That’s not such a problem though as you respawn instantly so you can try again.

The game looks okay for what it is, using the almost clichéd retro pixels doesn’t really do any harm and the music is okay. There’s nothing special about the presentation. The gamepad does boast a rather useful world map though, I found myself using it quite a lot when trying to work out where the last hidden shrines could be located.

One frustration I has with it is with the screen transitions. Each section of the game is split into screen sized chunks so if you jump pass the top of one, the screen will switch to another screen as your head appears from the bottom. I found this a little disorientating if I’m honest.

Overall, Ascent of Kings is a decent game. I enjoyed playing through it. For such a short game it has a lot of abilities packed into it and it doesn’t outstay its welcome. It feels basic in motion and doesn’t really offer anything special, but it’s a nice, harmless Metroidvania that’s priced accordingly.

Good points

– Lots of abilities

– Well constructed world

Bad points

– Screen transitions

– Short

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