Wikipedia defines Limbo as “[…] a speculative idea about the afterlife condition of those who die in original sin without being assigned to the Hell of the Damned.” This is a perfect way to start a review for Dark Ascent by Cruel Byte, because just like quoting a wikipedia page, this game seems fancy but is simply a bad idea and a boring game.
The idea of this game is simple: your character is attached to a balloon and you “hold to ascent” to Heaven, I guess. Meanwhile, you’ll be dodging various things to avoid your balloon to “pop”. Creatures residing in the Limbo: flying rocks, dragons, devils…and spiders?
To be honest, I used the word ‘dodging’ but I think that word entails too much excitement for what you will actually be doing in this game. Your options are limitied to hover in straight line or not.
Much like the number of moves, the number of sound you will hear in Dark Ascent is also very limited. You will hear one music, from the moment you start the game till the end. As well, there will be the sound of your balloon popping. You might hear devils cackling from time to time. However, I am not sure if that was actually the game or a voice in my head telling me to set myself fire to escape this boredom I have experienced while playing this game. I cannot confirm this because I simply do not have patience to sit through this game and progress enough to check.
Visually, however, this game offers more excitement than any way it can. The dark ambiance of the game captures what I think Dark Ascent was trying to go for very well. Calm, sad and yet possessing a strange sense of beauty. The background is drawn soft and lovingly, but in a twisted way, almost like a Tim Burton art. The characters that the player can unlock brings the dark humour and playful nature in this drudgery nature of Limbo. However, they each do exactly the same thing, therefore making really no difference in the game.
I, personally, am not sure why the game developers are still making games like this. Perhaps they think we will still be impressed by simply showing us how a touchscreen game works, even though this kind of games have been done millions of times since 2007 or even earlier. It needs little more than pretty art and somewhat witty pop culture references to satisfy gamers in nowadays. Our phones are more powerful than what NASA used to launch the first rocket into the space. Perhaps game developers should capitalize their hardware a little bit more.