A Thug’s Ascension takes us to India, amidst urban shootouts, but above all, it gifts us with a beautiful story, full of important and profound messages to reflect upon

A Thug’s Ascension

On January 18th of this year (2024), A Thug’s Ascension was released, for PC and Mac, a title developed by Moonwalk Games, with whom we had a chat in this interview some time ago when the video game was still in development.

I was personally intrigued by some aspects of this title, namely the storytelling and the setting. I must say that the expectation regarding these two aspects was met, with some minor reservations that I will delve into.

But first, let’s specify what it’s all about.

A Thug’s Ascension is a dark crime drama where first-person shooter and cinematic narration converge in a low-poly action-adventure set in a corrupt metropolis.

A crime movie in video game format

One of the most interesting aspects of A Thug’s Ascension is precisely the way Moonwalk Games chose to represent the story behind the video game.

The style is directorial, cinematic in nature, with shots and camera movements typical of a movie.

Adi Chandra, one of the authors of A Thug’s Ascension, is also a filmmaker, and it’s no coincidence. In fact, as he told us himself, it’s his main aspiration. When asked, “Do you already have plans for a future title?” he replied, “No. After A Thug’s Ascension, I am excited to move out of the realm of video games and enter the film and television industry, focusing on purely visual stories.”

There is a lot of love for cinema in this title, and I would say it’s the characteristic that stands out the most. The cinematic approach behind A Thug’s Ascension is, as mentioned, a big plus, but, I’m sorry to say, this almost exclusive focus on directing has greatly penalized the final result, if we want to evaluate A Thug’s Ascension as a video game, which, effectively, it is.

Maratha is our city

The setting, as I mentioned, was something that intrigued me. Personally, I’ve never played a title set in an urban context in India, and I was very curious to learn more.

Moonwalk Games gave particular emphasis to the cultural aspect, making references to typical dishes and delving into some social dynamics, giving us a measure of both the positive and negative aspects of a place like Maratha.

Which are, in fact, the positive and negative aspects of many other places, but it’s interesting how typical dishes like Biryani, Vindaloo, or Iaska are mentioned, specifying that they are preparations that require a long time. A time worth waiting for.

Indian food

Issues related to racism, sexism that crop up here and there, but especially the problem of violence, corruption, and so on, I don’t feel comfortable saying that they are typical of a place like Maratha. I mean, who doesn’t have these problems?

However, there is a sense of deep anguish that arises from the narrative dynamics, related to the social issues I referred to, and this suggests how much desire there is to create greater serenity and security.

There were references to the climate as well, talking about humidity and the almost total absence of winter.

In short, Maratha is an environment full of brothers and sisters who love each other, who take care of each other, but they are all forced to live in filth, which is why they dream of escaping, like one of the characters, Prem, who would like to go to America, where everyone is richer and the streets are made of gold.

3D Narrative

Another aspect that I was fairly certain would be well done is the storytelling. A Thug’s Ascension has a good story and good writing.

We embody Chief, a mercenary who works, or rather fights and lives with his group. Chief’s group represents the middle ground between Law and Reckless Crime, which is what our protagonist himself wants to annihilate.

The real Villains, therefore, seem to be there. They are described as terrorists and rapists, and the Anacondas are an example.

Chief and his crew spend the entire story dealing with this ruthless and unscrupulous gang, while also fleeing from the Police.

All the characters have their own three-dimensionality, and I appreciated that a lot. The story takes a while to get going, but when we get halfway through the game, the characters start to thicken, to reveal themselves, and the narrative comes to life.

A Thug’s Ascension characters

The depth that is given not only to the protagonist but also to characters like Ramu, Prem, Riya, and Abdul, Chief’s old and new friends, is interesting.

Even Dr. Sarkar, unanimously considered the most villainous villain, who seems to throw a wrench in everyone’s plans, actually has his own background, his own suffering, and, in the end, the same dream as everyone else.

I found this ability not to pass categorical judgment on the various factions – except for the Anacondas – to be an interesting and not at all obvious choice.

Gameplay and Graphics

The aspects that have made A Thug’s Ascension a somewhat mediocre product are the technical parts, but particularly the graphics.

The combat system is well done, but it’s the only aspect of gameplay. There’s no real exploration, no interesting crafting system. Everything is very basic, stripped down to the essentials.

The graphics strongly resemble Minecraft‘s style; one could almost say it drew direct inspiration, using low-poly more for logistical reasons, but there’s no doubt from Moonwalk Games that felt the need to tell a story more than anything else.

And when a story is powerful and evokes emotions, the presentation format doesn’t matter.

In principle, I agree with this last statement, but in this case, an extra effort, if only in choosing a slightly more original style, would have made everything much more impactful.


It’s a bit of a shame that the content of A Thug’s Ascension is partly overshadowed by the aesthetic issues we’ve discussed. It’s fine to choose, it’s fine to believe that if the story is good, nothing else matters, but in my opinion, using cinematographic technique so “emotionally”, I might say, framing and lingering on faces that are almost devoid of expression and sometimes a bit grotesque, seems like a missed opportunity.

So we have a great storyboard that with the help of original graphic work, not necessarily overly elaborate, would have brought to life a product certainly devoid of direct references, thus with a strong individuality, and would have better brought to light the themes and messages, very strong and very valid, behind A Thug’s Ascension.

A Thug’s Ascension

“A Thug’s Ascension is a first-person shooter where the narrative component takes the lead and becomes the protagonist, alongside the direction, of this video game that, however, still seems to be in draft phase, especially from a graphical point of view. The story comes to life after a while, but as soon as you delve deeper and get to know the characters’ twists and nuances, you can truly appreciate the aspect Moonwalk Games gave more importance to, namely the quality and truthfulness of the dialogues and the depth of the themes addressed. It’s a shame that equal importance wasn’t given to the rest, to make it something that could be defined as a full-fledged video game, rather than a visual novel with some shooting, which leaves a bit to be desired.”


  • Powerful and well-written narrative, especially in the naturalness of the dialogues.
  • Characters well characterized, with multiple layers of interpretation and depth.
  • Unusual context, highlighting socio-cultural aspects less common than others.
  • Well-studied and executed direction.


  • Gameplay limited to some shooting and little else.
  • Insufficient level of graphics and aesthetics.
SCORE: 6.5


I'm an Italian artist who came late to the gaming world but fell in love with it right away. I'm not the best gamer, and I choose titles that appeal to my personal preferences, but I can appreciate the graphics content and artistic solutions above all, even as I learn about all the fascinating game development features.