While it has some quirky issues, this futuristic gun game still manages to be engaging and exciting in an old school way. Set in the far future, the cyberpunk shooter The Ascent casts you as an "indentured worker" for The Ascent Group on the planet Veles. But when the company suddenly falls apart, sending the planet into disarray, you have to do whatever you must to survive. That "whatever" includes running errands for people, exploring an intricate city, and shooting anyone who looks at you funny. With frantic gun fights against reasonably intelligent enemies, and the ability to enhance yourself with special abilities, this feels like the recent game Cyberpunk 2077 if that game had been made by Housemarque, the studio behind such recent but similarly old school-style shooters as Dead Nation and Alienation.
That said, this game has some rather basic (and, you'd think) easily avoided problems. While it's fun to run and gun, and the taxis are helpful, the subway system is useless. Plus, the map is only accessible in a menu, instead of when you're actually moving, and while you can draw a line to your destination, it disappears way too quickly. It also doesn't help that you can easily make a wrong turn, especially when exploring, and run into a group of ruffians who are way more powerful than you. Also, the text in the Xbox version is super small. But even with these annoyances -- and they are annoying -- this is still a gripping shooter. The controls are fluid, your enemies are reasonably intelligent, there's a lot of role-playing game-esque depth and customization, and it all takes place in a beautifully dirty and intricate Blade Runner-like setting. All of which makes The Ascent one of the year's better gun games.