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Tower of Guns

19:0030/04/2014Posted by Charles Etheridge-Nunn4 Comments

You are in a tower, you have a gun and you shoot things. Handily, all the clues are right there in the name. This is a roguelike FPS, intended to be played in short bursts as you try to ascend further up the tower for… reasons.

Your motivation for getting through the Tower of Guns changes each time and charmingly the opening text dialogue between you and another party may have you as a robot, a sentient dog, an heiress and several more. The motivation is so variable because it’s frankly unnecessary, but that’s okay, nothing is necessary but the shooting. Nothing.

The titular tower is made up of visually different worlds but ultimately they’re all the same, ran-domly-generated room after randomly-generated room. Each one could be sprawling and massive filled with all kinds of moving platforms or hidden passages, or they might be a simple room with a handful of enemies. Speaking of the bad guys, you’re not shooting men or aliens, everything’s some kind of odd robotic shape. In one room you might be fighting a floating bladed orb, the next has gun turrets that shoot razor blades and then occasionally you get a boss monster could be the size of the room… or it might just be the room itself.

There’s a lot of variety in Tower of Guns, and somehow not enough all at the same time. The ran-dom turrets and swarms of robots seem punishing at first being bigger and seemingly able to keep hitting you wherever you hide, either floating to your location or launching such big spikes that it’s impossible to get out of the way. This is another game which encourages repeat plays though, the more you play the more you might unlock out of starting guns and skills. You start to get better at anticipating the evil robots and navigating the rooms. The guns are vastly different, the only dis-appointment being that you can only use one per game. Luckily life is cheap in Tower of Guns and even though most enemies drop health, you’ll find yourself dying often. Even with one choice of gun per play, each one can level up when you collect XP from fallen enemies and you can even boost yourself with random pickups. This means that you could become fast, healthier and jump to a near-Mario level of height. You’re still going to die eventually and with nothing more than a forward progression through rooms filled with deadly robots it can sometimes feel like it won’t be worth returning. Every few deaths you will get a treat from the game, certain accomplishments can unlock new guns or skills so there’s still something to play for even if you’re just dying a lot to begin with.

The graphics owe a lot to Borderlands 1 & 2 with the same sort of strangely-sketched levels. The design of the robots is fairly nondescript and utilitarian, the only noteworthy creatures being the hug-bots at the start of levels or the gigantic random bosses.

When I first received a review copy the controls were fine using keyboard & mouse, but playing with the controller felt like you were wading slowly through levels. This has been updated, however there is still no way to control menu navigation with the controller.

After the first dozen or so deaths, this game felt like it had run its course and was going to be the first roguelike I’d played which I wasn’t a fan of. Double that amount and somewhere between patching controller interactivity, learning how to deal with some levels and unlocking some frankly invaluable skills, I came to enjoy Tower of Guns. It’s not a perfect game, far from it, but it was a grower and I’m pleased to have stuck with it. The game touts itself as a first person shooter you can play a few times over in a lunch break. It’s short and sweet, good for a hit of FPS fun without getting too serious about anything or having to deal with internet randoms. There are definitely better roguelikes and FPS’, but this combines them both well enough to provide an entertaining experience to dip in and out of.

Reviewed on PC; review copy provided by the publisher.

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