Ascension is one of those games that most every gamer has heard about. If you’ve had the fortune of playing it, you’ve probably experienced an engaging, fast-paced card game with just enough strategy. It is good for a quick play, but those seeking more strategy are probably best of looking elsewhere.
An iPad version of the game is available and is an excellent implementation that is true to the real life version. However, it is not without flaws.
Where Ascension on iOS shines is in gameplay that is true to the original. The digital versions of the cards are visual duplicates of their real life counterparts. The playing area is well thought out, and while packed with information, it never gets in the way of itself. The rules of the game are clearly implemented and while some can be lost in the quick play in the digital version, that can be overcome with repeated play.
Ascension for iOS is a great translation of the card game's non-digital gameplay
I have to admit that while I’ve played the real life version, I’ve never enjoyed it enough to feel compelled to buy it. The iOS’s low price entry point and fairly robust online player pool make this a good alternative to shelling out ~$25 for the real version. Also, for mobile gamers the async feature is really welcome and realiable. Feel free to start several games and play them over time.
However, the iOS version suffer in a few areas. First, while the game has been out for months, the original gameplay can become stale shortly as the number of play cards is somewhat limited. While players know that expansions are coming in the digital form, no official date has been set as of this writing.
Second, the digital version lacks some of the modern features found on other top flight iOS games like Carcassone and Ticket to Ride. There are no leader boards, no persistent scores, and a general lack of features supported by Game Center and similar social gaming platforms. Maybe an iOS 5 update is around the corner (although there has been no hint of this).
In the end, Ascension is a good buy for iOS gamers (the iPhone version is nearly as worthy as the iPad version). Expect solid gameplay but without some of the features that separate the top flight digital games from their hard copy counterparts. This is also a game ripe for expansions to freshen gameplay.