In Ascent of Kings’ world, there is no standard succession in the royal lineage. Instead, people are tasked with making the dangerous climb to a shrine, which will bestow royal power to whoever gets there first. Not exactly a stable method for establishing the next monarch, but you get what you’re given.
As a young boy, you’re forced to watch your three older brothers go off to attempt the Ascent of Kings, with your father telling you that you’re simply too young to attempt it. This guy is winning no ‘father of the year’ awards however, as he pays no attention as you wander off to attempt the climb anyway. The old man guarding the ascent is no better, simply allowing you to pass despite your young age.
And so begins the platforming adventure that is Ascent of Kings on WiiU. Playable entirely on the Gamepad if you wish, this 8-bit styled, side-scrolling ‘Metroidvania’ has such charmingly simplistic visuals. The pixel art is beautifully colourful, the world’s inhabitants range from jumping blobs to blocky humans, and the environments are quite varied – though there aren’t enough of them. Taking around half an hour to finish the main game and around an hour to 100% complete it, it’s not exactly a long game, but then it is only £1.49 via the eShop.
The platforming gameplay contains standard jumping and a stone throwing mechanic (picked up early in the game) and could not be simpler. With a few extras added throughout the game to allow entry to previously inaccessible areas, it opens up somewhat. Puzzles are dotted around the world, usually in order to gain access to one of the twelve lesser shrines to 100% the game. These puzzles are a little too easy, but they do help to bring a little variety to the gameplay and may keep younger players interested for a bit longer. The jumping can be a little fussy from time to time though, especially when the double jump is unlocked, as there are times when the second jump just refuses to trigger. This led to a few completely avoidable deaths, but luckily your character instantly respawns without penalty.
The entire experience is very reminiscent to Nifflas Games’ Knytt Underground. The platforming gameplay and design is very similar, even down to the zoomed-out view and the small, charming characters. Perhaps this is why Ascent of Kings is such a fun game to play.
With a bit more challenge, perhaps with another area or two, or puzzles with a bit more depth, the gameplay could have been extended a little. But as it stands, the price is so low and the game is so fun and relaxing, Ascent of Kings is certainly worth your pocket change.
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