Developer: Terrible Posture Games
Platform: Xbox One (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PC
Release: Steam – 2014, PS4, Xbox One – 2015
There’s a certain formula or recipe that goes into creating Tower of Guns, and it goes a little something this:
Tower of Guns (Serves 1)
A base of procedurally generated environments
2 dollops of Unreal Tournament
1 helping of Ikaruga (another bullet-hell shooter substitute will do fine)
A sprinkling of RPG elements
You take Unreal Tournament and your bullet-hell shooter of choice, mash them together, all the while liberally sprinkling your RPG elements, and then pour the results over the biscuit base, made of a procedurally generated environment, and VOILA! One homemade Tower of Guns made just for you. Try not to eat it all in one go.
I’d say there’s a plot, but even then, the paper-thin justification for a plot is a random occurrence, and generally the excuse for a gag. My particular favourite is that you’re playing as a man who is also playing an 80’s text based adventure game, and the game is describing to you the outline of each level. It’s daft, but it managed to make me laugh, so well played there. You’ve even got a story where you play as a collective group of workmates on a team building exercise which may have been designed to kill them.
The randomness of this game is without a doubt the best feature. Procedurally generated environments based on a number of different pre-set themes provide the player with fresh challenges every time they play. It’s a novel concept, but it does produce some stupid enemy spawns, with turrets barely attached to the platform they’re meant to be defending. Rooms do start repeating themselves fairly quickly, but even then, the items and stats you’ll be wielding will likely be different, the turrets and their placement will likely be different, and you might even be using a different loadout. The themes themselves do provide some additional variety. Warehouse is a good example, as you face most of the level in darkness, along with Foundry in which you must avoid a lot of environmental hazards… Mainly lava pits though. Lots and lots of lava pits.
The game offers a solid amount of different weapons and perks, which are unlocked for accomplishing various feats (levels completed, loot picked up in one run), and they all offer different play styles depending on how you like to dispense death. In order to get to grips with the game, I’d suggest dying three times to unlock the Compensator; it tears enemies asunder like the scythe of the Grim Reaper himself.
Tower of Guns also features some RPG Elements, as you constantly level-up every aspect of your abilities. Loot drops could see increase to your jump amount, jump height, speed, health, armour, luck, even things like the difficulty level. Even rarer are debuffs to those stats. To date, I’ve seen one Armour Down power-… up? Power-down…? Let’s go with “bad thing”. Meanwhile, you’re constantly collecting blue “things that make weapons go pew-pew”. I don’t know what they are, but they are blue, and they improve the pew-pew capacity of your guns.
After blasting your way through enough turret technology to kick-start another industrial revolution, you arrive at the Boss Room. Once again, this could be anything from a “Big Ol’ Spike Wall” to a Totem Pole of Destruction (“Dr. Turret”). This process is repeated until you reach the Sanctum, or Level 5, where you fight the Gumball Machine and finish your run. And that’s basically it in terms of what this game offers.
There is no alternative on offer here other than shoot things in the face and level up, and even though that is fun, your attention can only last so long. All you’re doing is completing five level runs over and over again, unless you’re playing Endless mode, in which case you’re doing five level runs back-to-back.
My point is simple; this isn’t something that you’ll want to play for hours, as you’ll just become bored by the lack of options other than “pull trigger”. Sure, there are three different flavours, in the form of Story, Endless and Dice Roll (daft modifiers for every room), but you’ve still got the same formula at the heart. That being said, the formula works well and the game is a lot of fun to play. The randomness coupled with the load outs help to ensure different runs every time you play, but just remember to take some breaks in between runs. “Tower of Guns Fatigue” is a real thing.