A prophecy predicts that after the Titans lose power, one of the Three Gods will rule. You are a member of the Caos, a race of ancient warriors sworn to one of Three Gods (Darkness, Void, and Light). Pledging your allegiance to a god, you fight and crusade across the land, desecrating shrines and converting humanity so that your god may rule the land once more. In your way are Titans, monstrous immortal giants who reign over the land with astounding power. Your goal is simple. Kill the Titans and ascend into the heavens with your god.
It’s a simple narrative but if it were anymore complex, it might be too much for the game. There really isn’t much plot behind the game. You choose a god, fight for that god, find a means to take down the Titans, and then take them down. The aim is simple. It’s attractive. And there’s a strange sense of fulfillment in becoming a warrior that deserves a Titan’s attention and then taking down the monstrous beast who thought it wise to neglect you. It’s the obvious lust for power and glory scenario but it’s an effective one.
For comparative purposes, the game has a God of War-esque fighting mechanic, a Dark Souls monetary feature, and a map conquest mentality. You have a light attack, heavy attack, magic, dash, blocking, and combos to mix things up. They aren’t very complex but the executions and rough combat makes for a satisfyingly violent gore fest.
Players can customize their Caos warrior with armor designated by player level and upgrade level. Armor, weapons, and upgrades in general all derive from the currency of souls. It requires a bit of planning and care to make sure you have enough souls to repair things as well as further your character but it isn’t even close to difficulty of Dark Souls portrays.
The god a player chooses isn’t a permanent choice. At preset levels, a player can choose to ‘ascend’ their Caos to their god and choose a new god to fight for. During each ascension, the player chooses legacy items from their current inventory to carry over into their new Caos warrior. It costs a hefty sum to keep a large amount of your items so soul management is key in these scenarios.
After an ascension, the player’s previous Caos warrior, bearing whatever they currently had possessed, guards the shrines and lands the player has captured. Other players attempting to steal shrines may be forced to fight this ascended warrior, so the stronger you are when you ascend, the better chances you have of keeping your land.
Now depending on the global situation of land dominance, the Three Gods will offer rewards to the new Caos warrior for serving in their name. These rewards depend heavily on that gods desperation for more land. Serving under these gods will also grant the Caos warrior with new spells, abilities, powers, and weaponry. The strongest players in the game for each god are given a seat in the Sanctum for all players to see.
After the ascension, the player is placed a few levels lower than they previously were and given their legacy items and previous soul amounts. They then continue their crusade against the Titans, as well as, against the other gods and players trying to take their land.
All of this is a surprisingly complex and satisfying system for a free-to-play game. I walked into the game with no previous knowledge or experience and found myself relatively satisfied with the outcome. The game is technically single-player but also includes an asynchronous multiplayer aspect, similar to Dark Souls, where players see ghostly apparitions of other players in their own play through of the same area. You can curse them, bless them, or even attempt to invade their world with enemies or to steal their shrines/land. It’s a fun mechanic but also a disappointing one when all I’d like to do is to add a Caos friend of mine in on my struggle against the Titans. Luckily, the game has a locked door in the Sanctum reading “Co-op Coming Soon.” So who knows?
I’m sure Ascend: Hand of Kul won’t satisfy everyone but it’s certainly not a game anyone should overlook. I mean, the fact that it’s free should usually be reason enough but adding into the argument that the game is well made, fun, and immersive should be a calling card for most.
My most notable complaints could only be the potential for grinding (which, in my experience, was never that often) and the frustration of other players cursing you with enemies and handicaps all the time. Sure, there isn’t a strong character driven narrative, mind-blowing graphics, or a revolutionary gameplay experience but it’s a fun game. It makes me feel like a badass when I have an army of human archers riding my Caos warrior as I jump into battle against trolls, orcs, and inevitably, a Titan or two and I think it’ll do the same for you.