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Savant - Ascent REMIX Review | Genre-Bending Goodness?


Savant - Ascent REMIX review by Ophidian Mind

PC/Steam

Release Date: 9/29/2023

Developed by: D-Pad Studio

Published by: D-Pad Studio



Remakes, re-imaginings and expansions of older games have been on the rise in recent years and the practice has become so popular that fans have even started demanding that their favorite games receive the same treatment. Savant - Ascent was a game released in 2013 to a positive reception and the upcoming Savant - Ascent REMIX promises to greatly expand upon its predecessor while retaining the core of what made it appealing to players. Will this expansion be successful in bringing in new players and appeasing the existing fanbase? Let's find out!


a screenshot from Savant - Ascent Remix
Savant - Ascent Remix mixes a lot of genres into one challenging product.

Savant - Ascent REMIX combines different forms of gameplay, including some twin-stick shooting, bullet hell and 2D action platformer elements. Movement is controlled by keyboard directional keys and attacks are aimed and executed with a mouse. Most of the action takes place within a tight area on a scrolling screen where enemies and projectiles can come from all directions. These attacks can be evaded by dashing from side to side to reach safe areas or by utilizing the game's jumping mechanic.


Players can hurl rapid shots as a regular attack and large shots that cover a much wider area. These large shots are available on a charge meter located at the bottom of the screen. When aimed properly, the large shots can take out entire clusters of small enemies and do significant damage to regular enemies and bosses. Strategizing when to use the light or heavy attacks is a key part of the gameplay.

In addition to health or power-ups that can be found in chests throughout the game's stages, you may also discover a portion of a disc. Collecting enough portions to create a full disc will unlock an additional song created by the musician ALSO known as Savant, with whom this game was a collaboration. Savant's 4-disc soundtrack for the remix of this eponymous game is also available on Steam for those who are interested.


Savant - Ascent REMIX also contains score attack elements. Each game section has an earned score based upon player actions and recent scores are compared to previous scores while still showing progression within the levels. How the game progression works will vary somewhat depending on which difficulty setting is chosen. In normal mode, there are checkpoints located within the stages. Stages that have previously been completed can be selected from a stage select menu and player progress is saved.


A Screenshot from Savant - Ascent REMIX
Ride elevators and take on vivid enemies while avoiding bullets and projectiles.

The hardcore mode of the game changes most of that. Checkpoints and extra lives no longer exist, there is no stage select and the entire game must be completed in one sitting. As the name would suggest, this is a hardcore mode for players who feel they have mastered the game to really put their skills to the test. Because Savant - Ascent REMIX is considerably longer than the original Savant - Ascent, this mode provides quite a brutal gauntlet of fast-paced, challenging gameplay.


I highly recommend playing on normal mode first because part of succeeding in a game like this is in learning the levels and knowing at what point certain dangers arise and how they can be dealt with effectively. The "git gud" process here isn't just in mastering the game mechanics, but also memorization. This means that even if you think you've got the gameplay down, you're still likely going to struggle in hardcore mode unless you have learned the levels previously on normal mode.


While it was not yet available in the version I played, there will be a timed survival mode in the final version, and this might be one of the biggest player draws when it is released. With games like Vampire Survivors being very popular right now, adding a mode that creates a similar concept but with different gameplay will likely appeal to fans of that style. As a fan of those types of games myself, I am very curious to try survival mode when it is ready and I think it will fit well with Savant - Ascent REMIX's gameplay. This mode also claims it will increase enemy numbers and have bosses appear, so it promises to be some exciting chaos.


The graphics in Savant - Ascent REMIX are fairly good and, much like the gameplay, manages to mix in a lot of styles into a cohesive product. The stages are generally dark, heavy colors, punctuated with vivid neons. Enemies are generally brighter, contrasting colors, with a Saturday morning cartoon look to them that stands out from the gothic-feeling backgrounds.


The music is energetic and can range from electronic-meets-classical themes to very upbeat dance music that reminds me of something you might hear in a mid-late 90s Japanese arcade game.

Savant - Ascent REMIX screenshot from the game
The game will feature a new time survival mode

The controls are a bit of a mixed bag. Shooting is very well implemented, aiming is fast and works well and alternating between different kinds of shots will soon feel intuitive after you get a basic feel for the controls. In contrast, having to reach across the keyboard to press "X" is awkward in this fast-paced game where you are swarmed by enemies and can take substantial damage. Jumping and dashing generally work fine, but the controls for the multiple jumps can seem a bit off at times. For example, sometimes it is difficult to tell which direction an extra jump will go, and this can lead to accidentally leaping into enemies or projectiles.


All in all, Savant - Ascent REMIX can be a fun experience for those desiring both fast-paced action and a considerable challenge. While it plays like a modern, polished game, it also has some of the appeal of retro arcade games. It's one of those games that can feel like you're getting the best of both worlds.



Pros

+ Exciting fast-paced gameplay

+ Energetic soundtrack that gives it a nice arcade feel Cons

- The jumping mechanic can be janky in certain situations

- Save system can be glitchy and saves can disappear

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