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Savant - Ascent
Darxio Aug 6, 2013 @ 8:09pm
Savant - Ascent: Beautiful, but a tease(You better give updates, devs)
The title is the TL:DR Beware, wall of text incoming.

Let me start by saying I love this game, even if it has a few flaws at the moment.

I have no idea who Savant was before this game. I was just browsing steam greenlight downvoting trash and upvoting like one or two things before I came across this game. I almost downvoted... until I saw the trailer quasi-in-beat to the music(No, the game isn't a rythem game, they did that for style). That made me watch it. I had to watch it a few times to 'get' what was going on in the trailer, because there's two things going on that I'm enjoying here. The music, and the action I'm seeing.

Sadly, greenlight is quite a strange, and dare I even say corrupt, system. I've learned this following a couple games(Seeing some high ones never get accepted, and then seeing ones like Divekick only get accepted once about to release on Playstation). I upvoted, but I didn't bother to wait for it to come to steam. I just went to the page and saw that if I get it there, I'd have access to an adroid version if they make one too(Linux, mac, iOS too, but I don't have that), all for $2 now. A steal. Bought it just for cross-buy alone(Hope you guys follow through on this).

Anyway, downloaded it. Installed it(its default folder it installs to is abnormal, but nothing you can't change). Loaded it up.

First impression: It's fullscreen. I see it's able to go windowed too(Not natively in the program's options). The game's not exactly made for Widescreen. I've got black bars on the left and right of my screen. Annoying at first, but with later knowledge of the game, if you have more left and right vision, it'd give you more of an advantage. Still, something to consider. These black bars no longer bothers me at least.

What does bother me is the lack of a basic options menu off the bat. I know this game is very simple at its core, but a basic options menu for volume, resolution, things like that. Also, for someone who has played it already, options for changing music at the start(Instead of having to die off the bat to start selecting). (Note: Next patch will add options menu, see bottom)

There is also no pause. Escape brings you right back out to the title menu, and from the title, quits the game.

You think I'm all negative nancy on this game? That's where the negativity ends. On to the praise! PS: I do like that the main menu has no music. For some reason, it sets the tone for the game.

There ain't too much story, but there's enough art to piece together what's going on. It's interesting enough. Probably more understandable for Savant fans I guess. I just understand enough in the game to know I need to get back up the Tower.

Your first game will teach you the basics JUST enough for you to understand what's going on... It's quite enjoyable. It's fluid in the mouse controls. You point, click, and shoot at enemies. You've got fast firing energy blasts, blowing up these enemies all around, and grabbing CD pieces in the blink of an eye with style. You need to collect 16 CD pieces in total, and every 4 will get you a new power. It's vital to collect them, so you're taught to murder special enemies on sight and snatch up the pieces. All in style.

I want to put emphasis on style here. You FEEL stylin' when you grab a CD piece and do some things. The FEEL is just as important as the gameplay, after all.

Anyway, after learning the ropes, the enemies will start throwing themselves at you. You learn you can only dodge left, right, or with jump(And when you jump, you jump to the side opposite of you) Instead of dodging bullets, you learn to try and dodge enemies. I ended up dying here twice, but you'll soon discover that you'll need some fast reflexes. It's less about positioning to be pixel perfect and more about reading enemies, knowing when to jump, and spacing.

Anyway, once you die, you'll get upgrades from your CDs. The first half of the game will give you two important upgrades you NEED to clear the game(The ability to fire 5 bullets when you first start firing, like a shotgun attack, and the ability to store energy with kills and unleash it with a powerful attack on right click).

The first half of the game is easy with one type of enemy(and the stationary enemy you kill for CDs). The second half is seen in the trailer, and that's the awesome one. I ain't gonna spoil it at all, but it's rough, and if you have old man reflexes, it'll train then back to what they used to be, I swear it. You will re-learn from your glory days(If you had them) how to dodge like a pro without convoluted controls getting in the way. At least you start at the second half if you die there, instead of back at the beginning.

The last part isn't exactly a stage since it's more of a boss fight mechanic, so I'll leave that to be discovered. There is a score function, but don't care about that too much when trying to beat it for the first time. If going for score, start back at the beginning.

Unique is the music aspect. When a CD is discovered completely, you can choose what track to play the game to. Sadly, you actually can't select the starting track without restarting the entire game, but there is an interesting track variety.

I actually want to talk about music for a second here. I really feel that music is truly one half of what makes Savant - Ascent what it is(and the current simple-yet-great gun-and-dodge gameplay is the other). I've taken some time to sample some of Savant's tracks after playing this game(Great artist, very talented). Not all of his tracks would work for a game like this, and the ones currently chosen are mostly well chosen indeed. However, the music choice does seem lacking(Though this IS a $2 game, and you get 5 tracks for it AND a game if you think abotu it), and I wish there was more music of Savant's to choose from for variety's sake. The game lives vicariously through Savant's music though, so I hope more music will come with future updates.

It's not the same playing with music in the background, since if you fail, you HAVE to have it stop on a dime to keep the immersion going.

One other point I want to make. An endless mode to compete for score would be a beautiful content update. It could be as simple as the second ascent stage looping over and over, or more complicated and random than that. Some endless-type stage would allow people to put those scores and Savant's music to blissful use. (Note: Next patch will add Endless mode. See bottom)

The game is too short for its own good. It needs more content, an endless-type mode if anything. It deserves better. While the main menu angers the consumer in me, the gamer in me just loves the gameplay beyond belief that I feel sad when there's no more to play.

I truly think it's a solid game, but it needs content updates. I hope the developers deliver on content updates. I don't know if this will ever be greenlit due to how steam just cherrypicks whatever it wants regardless of rank, but regardless, this game is a one-of-a-kind gem that needs to be played to be enjoyed. Sit down with headphones, get away from distractions, and play this game. It's $2 that won't be wasted. Trust me. I still don't really know who Savant is, but a good game with good music will forge good memories.

PS: I love the relationship between the devs and Savant before this game, how they make him art, and he makes them music, and this game just sprawls out of that relationship.

Edit: So it took me about 4 hours to gather my thoughts and write that, and 2 hours ago I read the upcoming patch notes. Time attack, Endless, Balance and Tweaks and an Options menu. Seems great!
Last edited by Darxio; Aug 6, 2013 @ 8:22pm
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Showing 1-6 of 6 comments
DPad  [developer] Aug 7, 2013 @ 2:18am 
Hi Darxio! Great post, and very inspiring! I've read all your feedback, and as you can see from the patch notes on our website, we are currently trying to add some of what you thought were missing from the game. Now I'm not going to over-promise or announce anything just yet, but look for more content in the futute. If you've bought the game already, all content patches will be free.
Darxio Aug 7, 2013 @ 6:37pm 
Thanks for replying! That was one of the reasons I got the game(Other being the future android version as well).

It's one of the better $2 I've ever spent in my life, and I'd argue with myself if I could remember my entire past in full detail.

Thanks for taking the time to read!

PS: Just want to add one of my thoughts on the current game about more powers in future updates. More is fine, but I really, really feel like the game doesn't need more powers. It's got that perfect balance right now where it's at, that if anything more is added, it really should be so minor that it doesn't disrupt the flow. Super Mario on the NES has limited moves but it's a timeless classic, for example. However, more music variety should never be turned away, of course.

PPS: For endless, perhaps consider having CD pieces restore some health to encourage nonstop ascending musical action as well as collection of CD pieces in general(When endless is implemented, of course).
Last edited by Darxio; Aug 7, 2013 @ 6:45pm
Jinxvorheeze Aug 9, 2013 @ 9:53am 
I just wanted to pop-in and say that I appreciate this post a lot. It's well thought out, informing but not overly critical and convinced me to pick up the game from the website as soon as possible; I wish more people would take the time to gather their thoughts and present them in an intelligent fashion like Darxio.
pkt-zer0 Aug 10, 2013 @ 10:27am 
Played the game some. It's really good! To be more specific than just "more content", I think maybe a few more enemy types would be good, a different character with slightly different mechanics even better.

EDIT: Finished it. I see you're slightly ahead of me with the "different character" thing. :P Looking forward to the endless mode.

Also, CDs grant you 1 bar as it is, them restoring health as well would seem too powerful. Maybe 4 pieces for 1 life, or something? I dunno. Still seems kind of at odds with the fact that you get CD pieces from tough but otherwise harmless enemies (so you only kill them if you're going for score).
Last edited by pkt-zer0; Aug 10, 2013 @ 10:51am
Psycho Aug 15, 2013 @ 2:22am 
Good review, would be great to see a lot more like this on Greenlight!
Dark_russian Dec 14, 2013 @ 3:43pm 
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