Ascend: Hand Of Kul Xbox 360 Review

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Ascend: Hand of Kul is a free to play action-RPG on the Xbox 360. Developed by Signal Studios and Published by Microsoft Ascend is a decent game for a free to play but has a fair amount of annoyances that can frustrate the player. Out of the 30 hours I’ve played with the game I’ve found it enjoyable at times but tends to run dry and lose its novelty very quickly. I haven’played t the previous game Ascend: New Gods so this is my first jump into the franchise. Most of my complaints in the game are minor. While the game has a lot of untapped potential it serves its self well as a free to play for Xbox live.

The overall concept of the Hand of Kul is that it’s a free to play game that boasts robust action-RPG gameplay while also trying to weave a mythical narrative behind it. The three factions you can choose to play with offer different experiences but don’t feel too much different as you only get some minor stat changes and a color change to how the game world is displayed. Not a huge complaint but I would’ve liked to see more of what they could do with the 3 different gods.

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The gameplay felt a little hack and slash-like with a mix of dark souls in terms of the overall gameplay with souls being the currency to buy different powers and upgrade your equipment. What I really liked about the game was the ability to buy your gear from your inventory menu instead of having to go to the shop just to repair and upgrade. This cuts a lot of time back tracking and gives more time to explore and fight in the world. You buy your equipment using souls which is the games currency. You can play the game normally and get souls by killing enemies and completing quests or you can buy soul packs which are in-game micro-transactions to give yourself a slight advantage. What I didn’t like was the tutorial as it was a little too lengthy in explaining everything. A minor complaint but still felt a tad long.

What the game does well is utilizing the player world and incorporating it into its gameplay. For example players will see ghosts of other players simultaneously playing in the game world. They will have different outlines to represent which faction they are from Blue for the void faction, red for the dark faction, and yellow for the light faction. The feature I thought was interesting was how you can benefit or “grief” other players in the game. While fighting enemies you can banish other enemies to the other person’s game if they are from a rival faction. You can do the opposite with other players from your own faction to help them which are called blessings. These include temporary buffs like extra damage and speed which can be helpful in the midst of battle. The enemy types were pretty lacking as well as bosses as you face the same ones over and over again with little to no variation between them. Most of the game you will be capturing shrines to do your gods bidding. After a while a different player will contest the shrine in which you can challenge the other player to a 1v1 battle for the shrine. These battles are fun but can be frustrating because the game keeps constantly notifying you of other players invading your shrines. Again a small complaint but nevertheless this is a fun game but some of the PvP features of the game could be better. There a bunch of customization options to make your gigantic warrior look the part while he takes on other warriors. Finally the leveling system in the game is pretty interesting too. Once you reach a certain level you can ascend and put your character in a category of a champion that will fight players that invade your chosen god’s shrines. You can even align with a different faction if you choose to. This concept wasn’t very clear but is still very interesting once you delve into it more.

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The graphics seem pretty passable for the most part. Nothing that would blow me away There were some texture pop ins but the graphics of the menus look pretty nice and how they laid out everything looks great. Really I can’t say much about the graphics as they looked pretty standard run of the mill visuals you would see on an aging console.

The plot for the game felt really forgettable as I lost interest very quickly the further I progressed into the game. The story is as follows: You play as Cao’s, a gigantic mighty warrior created to the serve and fulfill the wishes of the gods. As Cao’s you serve your god by capturing shrines to extend your reach across the land against two other rival god factions. The END.

Overall Ascend is a decent game with some minor problems in gameplay and some lacking game mechanics but the interesting leveling system and player interaction make up a little bit for what the game lacks. I would give a try since it is after all a free game. I mean seriously who doesn’t like free games? Anyway give this a try to keep an open mind while playing as it can be easily dismissed if you don’t look at everything the game has to offer.

Brian McCoy

Multiple platform game reviewer and college student with a huge passion for video games.

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