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Video Game / King's Ascent

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Not so many years ago, a terrible dragon started ravaging the Northern lands. She devoured livestock and would easily fight off all who tried to stop her. In response, the King devised a cunning plan to stop the monster. He held a great banquet in its honor. He showered the dragon with praise and fed it until the beast was stuffed. Once the dragon was sedated by it's own gluttony, the King's knights leapt from their hiding spots and slew the creature. The king then built a great tower to watch over the people and remind them they were safe.
—Level 1 Intro

King's Ascent is a 2013 flash vertical platformer developed by Aqualuft. Not so many years ago, a tyrant king ruled over the land and lived in luxury while his people starved. A lord who worked for him became tired of his cruelty and overthrew him, becoming the new king in his place. The new king later orchestrated a plot to defeat a great dragon that was terrorizing the kingdom and eating the livestock. The king would throw a feast in the beast's honor, and after it had entered a food coma, the king's guards would kill it. The plan went off without a hitch, and the king had a tower constructed for him to watch over his citizens. He also routed a town's water with the town's permission to stop a drought, and defeated an invading army through tactical trickery. Because of his good deeds, he is beloved by his people.


Today, the king is trying to track down his sorceress, Alabaster, and general, Dravious, who have neglected to show up for a meeting. While he is searching for them, the tower is shattered by the animated skeleton of that same dragon from all those years ago. The king must climb up the levitated ruins of his castle, dropping debris on the beast below. However, he soon learns that the dragon is merely one member of a conspiracy out to overthrow the king... and it quickly becomes clear that not everything is as clear-cut as one would believe.

Gameplay consists of platforming through vertical levels while being chased by an Advancing Boss of Doom. In a unique twist, instead of reaching the end of the level, the goal of each floor is to deal damage to the boss by dropping the falling platforms onto them. The game can be played here and a postmortem can be found here.


King's Ascent contains examples of:

  • Big Bad: The Tyrant, the Final Boss and only unambiguously evil character, is behind the conspiracy to dethrone the king. He's the past king and wants to retake his throne.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The king defeats the Tyrant again and ends the conspiracy to overthrow him, but after realizing that he went too far in trying to please people who will never be satisfied, decides to Abdicate the Throne anyway and become a farmer. Alabaster refuses the crown, claiming that she is too consumed by revenge to rule. The question of who will rule is left up in the air.
  • Boss Game: The four levels consist of an Advancing Boss of Doom chasing the king, who must direct platforms at them to defeat them.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The king may be flawed, but The Tyrant is plain evil.
  • The Chains of Commanding: The focus of "Life on a Throne," and a main theme in the game. It is heavily implied that everything the king did, he was pressured to do by his people.
  • Dragons Versus Knights: The first level pits the knight-like king against the undead dragon that terrorized his kingdom when alive. But the traditional morality is subverted when it turns out that the dragon used to be a protector of the kingdom who turned against the king when he betrayed her by stealing her land to use as farmland.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The game does not make it clear who is in the right. The king certainly seems to have tried his best, but he has made many grave mistakes and refuses to admit them, even when confronted. Alabaster and Dravious are correct about the king's mistakes, but they insist that everything he did was self-serving even when it almost certainly wasn't. The postmortem confirms that this was intentional.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: The Tyrant claims that the king is as tyrannical as he was, despite trying to justify himself.
    King: But I still did what I thought was right! You never did.
    Tyrant: What you tell yourself doesn't change your actions. If everyone thinks you were as cruel and brutal as I was, how are we different?
  • Theme Tune: "Life on a Throne" by Debs and Errol.
  • Win-Win Ending: Of a sort. With the exception of the Tyrant, both sides get what they want- the king retires from his duties and can live a life without the pressures of ruling, while Alabaster and Dravious have technically gotten their revenge by removing the king from the throne and getting him to realize his folly.

I'll be a farmer.