Tower of Guns is unique both in its gameplay and style. It’s a frantic shooter that keeps players on their toes throughout its entirety. However, the game’s few follies keep it from being a truly great arcade experience and instead leave it as a mediocre option for those gamers who love shooting things and need a break from current triple-A titles.
Tower of Guns was first released on PC last year and received a warm welcome from players and the Xbox One and PS4 versions are direct ports from the PC version. The concept is a very simple shooter that pits players against rooms filled with turrets that shoot endlessly as the players make their way through a 14-floor tower.
Tower of Guns‘ unique offering comes in the form of constantly changing rooms and randomized enemies. Each time a player starts a new game, they are greeted by new room formations and varying types of enemies. This was a definite bonus considering the game makes use of permadeath – starting players over from the beginning each time they die.
Having randomly generated enemies and rooms helps keep the game interesting and challenging, as players can’t simply memorize how to beat each floor and move on. Rather, each playthrough is a unique experience that forces players to alter and update their play style as they progress through the levels. This keeps the game fresh for those who enjoy its hectic and frenzied gameplay.
As players work their way through the levels, they may discover it’s best to methodically destroy every enemy in some rooms, and sprint through others without firing a shot. However, the game definitely rewards those who spend time shooting down enemies as they go along. All the bosses and many of the tough opponents drop various items and upgrades that players can use as they progress through the levels. Additionally, each time a player destroys a turret or flying bad guy, the enemy drops red and blue orbs that increase the player’s health and gun level respectively.
Tower of Guns‘ upgrade method provides a fun an interesting twist on shooting games, as it rewards players who destroy enemies, but also punishes them for trying to run-and-gun too aggressively. Each blue orb fills a bar that shows how close the player is to upgrading their weapon. When the bar is full the gun upgrades, making it more powerful for the next set of enemies. However, that bar can lose energy when the player gets hit with enemy bullets, causing the gun’s level – and power – to decrease. While this may not be that noticeable in early rooms, it has a major effect as players work their way up the floors.
The gun options are sparse, but provide differing experiences based on how players prefer to approach the tower. There are machine guns, spread-shot weapons and even a contraption that fires saw blades. While no one gun is universally better than any other, players will surely have a favorite go-to weapon based on their play style.
This same sentiment goes for the perks players can choose at the beginning of each new game. Each perk offers players a small benefit that can greatly enhance their abilities while in the tower. These perks include options to triple-jump from the start, no falling damage, lower difficulty, and higher health.
Graphically, Tower of Guns looks great and runs smoothly. Its semi cel-shaded nature gives it a very Borderlands feel, while not being a blatant ripoff. It helps keep the game visually appealing without requiring intricate visual details. Weapon firing, explosions, and environment movement all look good and add to the game’s quick pace and simple nature.
When it comes to sound, the constant shooting from the player and enemies drowns the experience in a muffled chain of gunshots and explosions. While this should add to the game’s frantic feel, it actually does more to annoy players through its perpetual noise. It’s enough to make players appreciate the peace and quiet between rooms, which is counter-intuitive to the experience.
The game’s simplicity makes it both fun and frustrating as an arcade game. On one hand, players have very few options for guns and perks as they enter the tower, so it’s easy to determine how to run the levels based on the player’s personal play style. On the other hand, the game lacks a certain depth that would help it be a more enjoyable and challenging experience.
For instance, Tower of Guns seems to lend itself well to a multiplayer experience; however, there is no multiplayer option available. This seems like a serious oversight from developer Terrible Posture Games. Even opening the game to a two-person co-op mode where friends can run the levels together would be a great addition to the game, and would definitely be effective in bringing players back to the tower. In fact, the randomized nature of the levels would make this one of the best multiplayer arcade experiences currently available for consoles.
Unfortunately, players are left to tackle the tower levels themselves over and over again. And despite the randomized nature of the levels, the incessant barrage of fire from enemies can get frustrating and old fairly quickly.
Additionally, although the game tries to keep things simple with small rooms filled with randomized enemies, the incessant enemy attacks begin to feel very similar all too quickly. This keeps the game from feeling like a new experience every time, but rather the same experience in just a different location. Ultimately, every level is the same concept with just different surroundings.
While the permadeath is reminiscent of classic arcade games and more recent rogue-likes, it brings with it a certain amount of frustration that has the power to keep players from wanting to jump back in after they die. This is especially true when players have made it to the mid to high levels of the tower. It would be nice to see Terrible Posture Games incorporate some kind of save feature, or even create a game mode that allows players to restart where they died and continue their progress. But of course that’s not the game’s M.O. and plenty will appreciate that.
In the end, Tower of Guns does have an element of fun thanks to its randomized levels and simple premise, but it’s a game best consumed a little at a time. While a few gamers may enjoy the game enough to play it often, most will see Tower of Guns as a momentary distraction to be experienced for a few minutes, then left to wait for a later date. As Terrible Posture Games expands the games and hopefully adds a multiplayer option, Tower of Guns will become a staple arcade game for current-gen consoles. Until then, it remains a frenzied shooter that’s sure to both annoy and please those who appreciate the challenge.
Tower of Guns is currently available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided an Xbox One code for this review.