Dubstep is one of those crazy music genres that get people into long-winded arguments on whether or not it is actually a genre of music. Dubstep is in-your-face beats full of techno rhythm with a myriad of wub wubs alongside their unique structures. I’m not trying to say that dubstep is the most intelligent sounding genre of music, with classical music and jazz being my go-to study genres, but it’s pretty awesome being able to make music out of broken sounds and techno beats.
What happens when you pair dubstep with video games? For the most part, they serve as the background music for crazy fight sequences and action scenes, but never as the main part of the game. Meet Aleksander Vinter, other known as Savant, a dubstep artist with an alternate persona which he calls “Vario”. Paired with D-Pad Studios, they produced what I consider one of the flashiest music games I’ve ever played: Savant Ascent.
Based around one of Savant’s albums, “Cult”, Savant Ascent stars the pixel caricature “Savant” as he pursues his arch-nemesis and alter-ego, “Vario,” through a castle that extends taller than that of some of Dracula’s castles from Castlevania. Through the power of dubstep, Savant uses his sick beats to take down the forces of Vario by containing his beats in blasts and throwing them at his enemies. While blasting through foes, Savant also has a chance of obtaining records of his works in order to gain greater power to use against Vario and his gang.
Savant Ascent is definitely one of the prettier games I have played last year, with sprite work for every enemy, sprawling castle landscapes that almost look too huge and too extreme that one must call them gothically-epic, and a main character who exudes the rule of cool. Every sprite has this crazy medieval feel with sharp outlines and shapes that make you feel like you’re in a crazy anime with ninjas and knights. The dubstep influence heavily impacts much of the sprite animations, which move like they are on a steady beat, like hands on a clock. Explosions exude a feeling of awesome while keeping intact that rule of cool that the Savant caricature shows off.
The gameplay of Savant Ascent feels fast, frenetic, and, for the most part, cool. As mentioned previously, Savant is a cool looking character. He hadokens his fellow enemies in flurries of giant blasts of energy created from the power he wields over dubstep. The songs you obtain make you feel even more awesome, as grabbing new record pieces lets you slow down the action to watch Savant suavely chain-grab some beats. Enemies, while limited in type, are difficult enough that you’re always kept on your toes while you try to maintain your groove. Riding up two giant elevators at fast speeds leads to higher degree of trying to play the game like an actual savant. Rolling and jumping between each elevator feels smooth while each destroyed enemy makes you feel like, for lack of a better term, a ninja.
Savant Ascent’s greatest asset is the way it tried to make players feel cool, like they are wearing a pair of aviators as they walk out of a burning building without looking back. Players knows that they will be challenged in the game, but that won’t stop them from gunning down little robot dudes with the power of rhythm and energy. When Savant gets done in, he explodes in a time-stopping moment of glory. When Savant shoots he makes his enemies know that he is no push-over. Like Spike Spiegel, playing Savant Ascent makes you feel awesome.
Bottom Line: Savant Ascent is actually a really cheap download, selling for $5 on Steam. With music that almost doesn’t feel like dubstep but like orchestrations of cool, the entire game won’t stop until you feel like a badass. Though made in GameMaker, the game is clean, silky, and smooth. The difficulty keeps you locked in as you aim for 5 minute runs through progressing difficulty in almost the most absurd and impossible looking ways. However, with the emphasis on playing to the beat of dubstep music by Savant, nothing feels impossible.