Ascent of Kings Review—King for an Hour


One of the things I loved about Nostatic’s Quiet, Please! was the lack of nonsense when starting to play it. No long tutorial, no confusing controls to remember, you could just play it immediately. Their recent release, Ascent of Kings follows that same tradition, although it’s more of a platformer than an adventure game.

Whereas the goal of Quiet, Please! was to simply get everyone around to quit making noise so you could sleep, Ascent of Kings has a far more ambitious goal—help a young child become king by finishing a contest of sorts, reaching the end of the Ascent of Kings, something of an obstacle course. I guess there are worse ways to pick a king. I’ve always thought politicians should appear on Jeopardy!, instead of a debate, myself.

Their mother had a lot of explaining to do to her husband....

Their mother clearly had a lot of explaining to do to her husband....

You start off only being able to jump, but you gradually gain items that let you do more. Boots that let you double jump, gloves that let you climb vines, a slingshot that lets you shoot rocks, and more. Quite a lot, actually. All these elements are used to progress further along the Ascent of Kings to reach the final goal. But problem solving really isn’t the main focus; exploration is. It’s linear, but there’s secret stuff to find.

Platforming (that is, making accurate jumps) isn’t really much of an element in the first half of the game, but it becomes more so in the second half. Still, you are basically immortal, as when you die, you simply start over nearby. At most, it’s a screen away, so it never gets too frustrating.

Your brothers are kind of clumsy.

Your brothers are kind of clumsy.

The game controls well for the most part, with the jumping crisp, not floaty. Once in a while, though, you try to jump while leaping off something (vines for instance), and you don’t jump. You just fall, can’t even make a double jump in the air. If you get lost, you can pull up a map from the pause menu. Pretty nice touch.

Honestly, I’m not crazy about most retro-themed games most of the time. Let’s face it: while the blocky graphics back then weren’t so bad, the color palettes were awful, and so all too often retro games look needlessly garish. But Nostatic uses a nice, colorful but normal palette in their games. The music is similarly retro in a way, as it sounds like something out of an ’80s low budget fantasy movie. I kept expecting Hawk the Slayer to show up.

Explore the bowels of the earth.

Explore the bowels of the earth.

Depending on your platforming skills, Ascent of Kings will probably take you about an hour or so to beat the game, and maybe twice that to find all the hidden shrines. So perhaps a little short, but at the same time, it’s fun and not overly repetitive, with progression in the game constantly changing up the game play. More than anything, it reminded me of a less frustrating Pitfall II.


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