A Thug’s Ascension Review – Bullets, Blocks, and Bombast

A Thug's Ascension game screenshot, Shooting
A Thug’s Ascension Review – Bullets, Blocks, and Bombast

Platforms: Windows PC, Mac, Steam

Game Name: A Thug's Ascension

Publisher: Moonwalk Games

Developer: Moonwalk Games

Genre: Action, Adventure

Release Date: January 18th, 2024

A Thug’s Ascension by Moonwalk Games

In A Thug’s Ascension, you play as a man named Chief, part of a posse trying to take down the Anaconda group – a criminal organization involved in drug trafficking and murder – by any means necessary.

As in most crime dramas, a tragic backstory reveals itself, making things personal.

A Thug's Ascension game screenshot, Gang

Most missions are focused solely on gunplay: clear out all the enemies in an area while pursuing the the occasional side objective. It’s a fairly linear mission structure, with just enough variation to keep each mission from getting stale.

The combat can feel a little unpolished. The enemy AI isn’t too smart; many encounters feature enemies that just stand in the open, shooting nonstop, making no effort to take cover.

Guns don’t have the right amount of punch, either, leaving many combat encounters underwhelming, but at least they get the job done, and there are a variety of weapons to mess around with.

Crime Stories

The combat takes a backseat to the narrative. A Thug’s Ascension features a lot of cutscenes, highlighting the game’s main focus. Unfortunately, the cutscenes introduce too many people and groups at the expense of character development.

Everyone except the protagonist and the main antagonist feels underdeveloped, lessening the impact of more intense events centering on shallow characters and negatively affecting the story.

A Thug's Ascension game screenshot, Combat Gif

But it’s not all bad. Serious narrative themes within its narrative shine: violence, human nature, corruption, power struggles, and trauma, to name a few. There are genuine dramatic moments here that are engaging and thoughtful.

Unfortunately, a lot of those themes get bogged down by the other aspects of the narrative. There are lots of social issues and different organizations vying for power that characters explain in detail via dialogue sequences. It helps develop the game’s setting, but it feels a little too much and not enough showing.

The intricate world with so many things happening in the background is commendably ambitious, but the narrative would resonate more if it was more focused. When it dials into the main character’s narrative and backstory, it’s a lot more compelling.

Around the Blocks

Visually, A Thug’s Ascension reminds me a lot of the blocky Roblox style, with wide, rectangular characters who have unchanging facial expressions.

During cutscenes and dramatic moments, the camera lingers on characters, and the lack of expression makes the more dramatic moments feel less impactful. It also makes it harder to gauge what emotions characters are trying to convey.

Other than that, environments and locations are mostly lacking in visual flair, but at least they’re legible enough to thwart confusion.

A Thug's Ascension game screenshot, Bar Talk

There are genuinely solid, well-told moments within A Thug’s Ascension’s narrative. I was engaged enough to see what would happen next, particularly during the latter half of the game, which turns into an engaging, entertaining crime drama, but lackluster combat and a somewhat bloated narrative might be a turn-off.

A Thug’s Ascension is available via Steam.

Check out the official trailer for A Thug’s Ascension below: