Ascend: Hand of Kul is a new free-to-play hack and slash online game that seems to fall just short of entertaining. The game has the player take control of their own personal giant which will serve one of three gods in an attempt to spread their deity's influence across the world. Along the way players will defile altars to the deities that the player did not choose, fight waves of enemies, and upgrade their armor and weaponry.
The game's combat system is overly simplistic, with the tutorial teaching the player every possible combo within the first five minutes. The combat flows smoothly for the most part, though the player will find themselves being hit by an attack now and again that they were out of range of. A combo tracker rewards players with bonuses to the money (known as souls) gained from combat, but disappears upon being hit by any attack. This can be avoided by a fairly responsive block command. The game's magic system only allows a small amount of spells to be equipped at once, and require a significant cooldown between each casting of a particular spell.
The multiplayer aspect of the game is interesting. During combat the player will see translucent versions of other player characters, color-coded by deity, that cannot be directly interacted with. Fortunately the player can cast a special banishing spell to send nearby enemies into another player's world to harass passers-by. The other unique multiplayer mechanic is capturing other players' altars. Attacking an altar allows the defending player to warp to the altar and directly take up arms against the attacker. This earns souls for the player to spend on upgrades and items.
The shops can be somewhat annoying to use, as any item worth having costs somewhere around ten-thousand souls. This gives the game a slight 'pay-to-win' feel to them, as a player can purchase in-game currency to be able to quickly achieve these items. However, the game's combo mechanic makes it possible for skilled players to be able to earn souls quickly enough to be able to purchase the aforementioned items at a slower pace which eventually balances out the multiplayer.
Overall 'Asend: Hand of Kul' is a surprisingly decent free-to-play game that can entertain for a few hours. The combat is fairly solid, though bland, and the multiplayer gives a unique flair to the game that other titles could benefit from. The biggest downside to the game is that it is impossible to play the game offline. An active Xbox live gold membership and internet connection is required in order to play a free title that feels as though it stops just shy of fun.