Have you ever wondered what Hotline Miami would be like without the violence and murder? For me, that sounds like it would make for a pretty boring game, but the new release oOo: Ascension evokes the same sense of urgency to reach your destination with an addictive formula that will likely have you trying again and again, no matter how many times you fail.
The premise behind the game is quite simple: you control a small ship through mazes that are built upon a sphere, and if you touch the walls or one of the many traps or obstacles the game throws at you, you’re dead. I assure you that death will come often and quickly, as the game takes no time in pumping up the difficulty. Much like the hyper violent game previously mentioned, you can respawn instantly, which makes getting back to the game quick and reduces frustration. I found the puzzle designs to be satisfying, with a number of the challenges throwing a random screw ball at you, such as having the walls close in on you just short of the goal. This will happen often after completing a much more difficult segment, which makes the loss even more painful, but encourages you to improve. A useful tool to aid you in improving your runs is the fact the game will include a ghost of your previous attempt, which I found moderately helpful in some of the more trap heavy levels.
The game is huge, with countless levels spread across a number of worlds known as sectors. Not much changes between them as far as the overall premise aside from new hazards to avoid. As I mentioned earlier, it gets pretty difficult after a short period of time. I was able to speed through the first few levels with ease, completing them in seconds, whereas later levels took me a minute or more to finally complete.
The game’s controls are tight and responsive, which makes most failures feel well deserved. While the simple controls are accessible, you will need lighting quick reflexes to progress through later levels. I am a bit disappointed by the lack of the ability to rotate the sphere, as this would make some of the more challenging puzzles that offer multiple paths less frustrating. In your time with the title, you’ll only need a face button to reset the level at any time, the left or right stick to move, and the right trigger to use the boost feature. The boost mechanic does essentially what it says, but is a bit harder to steer using this option. I found myself taking more time to complete the levels using the boost and only used the speedier method of travel when absolutely necessary.
The visuals work well, with an overall design that evokes the feeling that this is part of the Portal universe. While unrelated, it’s easy to draw this connection due to the muted, off white tones with many single color elements added. The ship you pilot even resembles a slightly deformed version of the turret you’d find in Aperture Labs. I’d often die expecting GLaDOS to chime in with a snarky comment.
The game can be played in couch co-op, where each player must complete the same puzzle, which neither adds nor removes from the game, but does alleviate the need to take turns if you’re like me and have a child who always wants to join in on the fun. In addition to the co-op mode, there isn’t much to do once you’ve completed the many levels, aside from replaying past sequences to earn a coveted oOo rating on each level, which requires nothing short of perfection and careful use of the boost feature. The game boasts a huge number of challenges, so it doesn’t feel short by any means, but does lack a reason to revisit it once you’ve completed it.
If you’re looking for a great puzzle game that is highly addictive, you could do a lot worse than oOo: Ascension. With its challenging gameplay that can be played in small chunks, I would highly recommend purchasing this title.
8 out of 10
- Short Challenges Completed in Seconds
- Huge Number of Levels
- Tight Responsive Controls
- Appealing Design
- Some Cheap Deaths
- Not Much Replay Value
- Lack of Online Co-op
oOo: Ascension was developed by Kenny Creanor and published by Extra Mile Studios. It launched on X1 May 25th, 2018 for $14.99. The game was provided to us for review on X1. If you’d like to see more of oOo: Ascension, check out the official site.
Here at GBG we use a rating method that you are more than likely familiar with – a scale of 1 to 10. For clarification, we intend on using the entire scale: 1-4 is something you should probably avoid paying for; 5-7 is something that is worth playing, but probably not at full price; 8-10 is a great title that you can feel confident about buying. If you have any questions or comments about how we rate a game, please let us know.