Saturday, December 24, 2016

Ascension - 10/20 hours

Well, that escalated quickly. I was planning on doing a post at 3 hours, then 5, then 7, then 9, but each time I was just a little bit off my target time, so I though, "well, maybe I'll play for just a little bit more," and then, what do you know, ten hours have passed. I think that means I like the game . . .

Except I have indeed run into some of those porting issues the negative reviews have been going on about. I'm pretty sure there's a certain card that consistently crashes the game, and the whole thing looks stretched-out and weird in fullscreen mode, but the text is too small in windowed mode. You can't change resolution and the AI is moronic.

Although, if I'm being perfectly honest, the last one doesn't bother me so much. My favorite part of the game is assembling long, intricate combos, and it's just as well that I don't have an aggravating AI spoiler to get in my way. I suppose, in theory, that it might better if I was facing a worthy foe, but since Ascension obfuscates half your score until then end of the match (you earn "honor" points by accomplishing various tasks in the game, but each card you buy for your deck also has an honor value, and your deck's honor isn't summed until the very end), I never really got the feeling of being in direct competition with the computer. My desire to rack up as many points as possible before the end of the game is already as strong as it's ever going to be.

So, despite the AI competition, I've been treating Ascension as a kind of fantasy-themed Solitaire. It's been working pretty well for me, although I think it probably loses more in translation than Sentinels of the Multiverse or Magic: the Gathering. A big part of what makes the tabletop game so great is the knowledge that you are screwing over your friends and the heartbreak that comes from them snagging a crucial card before you can get to it. Without that social element, Ascension really just becomes and exercise in baroque combo-building.

Luckily, baroque combo-building is exactly the thing I love most in a card game. It rapidly became difficult to keep track of time. I bought this game on a whim, but I expect it will be one of my faster finishes. If I'm not done with it tomorrow, I'd be very surprised.

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