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Developed by small French studio Hibernian Workshop, Astral Ascent has caught the eye of fans of indie productions with its colorful art direction and pixel-chic animation. But besides its attractive visual aspect, does the title have enough to make a solid place for itself in the highly competitive roguelite genre?


  • When Dead Cells Meet Hades?
  • Roguelike does not put in all hands?

After the launch of Soulslike Dark Devotion in 2019, So, French studio Hibernian Workshop has dedicated itself to Astral Ascent, a 2D action platform game with pixel art graphics and roguelike mechanics.. Away from the dark atmosphere from their first production, this second project is now available in early access shows unlike in the colorful and luminous environments since the title takes place in The Garden, a kind of star prison protected by 12 name-guards of turrets that the player will have to defeat to escape.

When Dead Cells Meet Hades?

Of course, the most noticeable thing when launching Astral Ascent is its beautiful graphics. With sleek and colorful pixel art, the two biomes available in this Early Access are a lot of fun to browse, especially since the title’s soundtrack is just as charming. It offers many highly successful tracks. Finally, a large part of the game’s charm also comes from the particularly detailed animation that contrasts with the presentation in the pixel art of the whole. Then we get a rather unique visual aspect that gives the title a real graphic identity. In addition, most of the characters benefit from original appearances, particularly the five constellations that can be encountered in this Early Access that all have the right to a neat introductory cinematic.

Astral: An heir worthy of Hell and Dead Cells?

After asking the player about his astrological sign, information that will affect your relationships with other characters, Astral Ascent offers a short tutorial before immersing you in the heart of the action on your first attempt. Like most roguelikes, the sequence is quite classic and fans of the genre won’t lose track of it. Thus, we connect the different procedurally generated rooms to obtain new resources or improvements in order to be strong enough to face the boss at the end of the biome.. At the end of each table, it is possible to choose which level you want to go to depending on the rewards that interest you most. Finally, death is not punitive because if defeated, you will return to the central hub with a certain number of points that you can spend to get permanent improvements or to unlock new items that you can find during the next round.

Astral: An heir worthy of Hell and Dead Cells?

In addition to being somewhat classic, Astral Ascent stands out from the crowd in terms of gameplay. If we find simple commands such as hitting, jumping, darting or falling wildly on the ground from the air, these actions sparkle above all through their interaction, which makes the gameplay especially fun and nervous.. As for the original mechanics, the Hibernian Workshop title allows each character to use four skills one at a time. As you try to escape, you can change or improve these abilities or even modify the order of their sequence, but whatever happens, you can only cast one of these spells again once the other three are consumed. Finally, to use one of these skills, you just need to have enough Mana scales that are recharged simply by typing.

Roguelike does not put in all hands?

Astral: An heir worthy of Hell and Dead Cells?

With interactive controls, Astral Ascent is a particularly fun game as it offers battles as well as very dynamic platform stages. However, we must realize that the nervousness in its gameplay tends to make the work confusing. If enemy attacks are well marked to allow the player to respond accordingly, it can sometimes be difficult to find your way through all this deluge of influences. We find this slight interest in readability with respect to the game’s interface. When we get an improvement for example, we can also have difficulties in figuring out which skill we are applying a negative bonus to because the way to proceed is not very intuitive. Anyway, nothing spoils the game experience either, which remains functional.

Astral: An heir worthy of Hell and Dead Cells?

In terms of difficulty, Astral Ascent is currently less accessible than other products of this type, such as Hades. For example, at each end of the attempts, the improvements available in the central hub are much less generous than in the Supergiant Games title. Furthermore it, Some bosses are particularly tricky and it’s not uncommon that you have to do this multiple times to properly learn their different attacks to better anticipate them.. But to reduce the difficulty a bit, know that the title allows players to play cooperatively, locally or online thanks to Steam’s Remote Play Together. And since the game is still in Early Access, only two of the four planned characters can be controlled at the moment, the killer Ayla and the explosive fighter Kiran. Fortunately, it is not played the same way, allowing everyone to find their account. In the end, the other two heroes to come, Kali and Octave, will be more focused on long-range combat.


strength point

  • colorful art trend
  • Successful pixel art animation
  • Dynamic and responsive game
  • Two characters with different approaches
  • Co-op locally or online for two
  • Luxurious soundtrack

Weak points

  • Sometimes you fight chaos
  • Interface sometimes lacking readability
  • The challenge addressed may delay some

With this early access, Astral Ascent proves that she has the weapons needed to carve out a place for herself in the competitive roguelite genre. With its colorful pixel art graphics, detailed animations, and polished soundtrack, the Hibernian Workshop title offers fun environments to browse. However, battles are not left out as the game offers spooky gameplay and many possibilities that make each round fun. Despite everything, some minor flaws overshadow the image, such as readability issues or even a lack of logical content for early access. It remains only to wait to see if new elements added over time will allow the title to attract players in the long run.


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