TowerFall Ascension Review

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"So when an old-fashioned couch co-op title nudges its way through industry behemoths and manages to provide local multiplayer excitement in its purest form, it’s important to take note."

Online multiplayer gaming is regarded as this monstrous social conglomerate, but the reality couldn’t be more ironic. Die-hard multiplayer enthusiasts are likely to be found behind closed doors with headphones glued to their heads instead of huddling together with friends in front of the TV. Couch co-op has become obsolescent over the years with more people preferring digitized walls between their fellow gamers. I’m not sure why the idea of sharing gaming space has become so blasphemous…oh wait, I know. How else can publishers milk the industry but with derivative DLC content and service fees? It’s no longer possible to play online for free (on consoles that is). If you don’t have Sony’s PS Plus or Microsoft’s Gold service, you’re left with only a handful of local co-op offerings to enjoy with your buddies. So when an old-fashioned couch co-op title nudges its way through industry behemoths and manages to provide local multiplayer excitement in its purest form, it’s important to take note.

TowerFall Ascension is very straightforward. Pick one of the four main characters (all of which only differ aesthetically), grab a buddy…and ready yourself for hours upon hours of hypnotic gameplay. The levels are presented on singular screens in gorgeous 8-bit style graphics. The premise is simple: kill or be killed. The little archers can jump, shoot and dash with controls so flawlessly responsive and precise it’s easy to get instantly hooked. Up to four players can go head to head shooting and dodging arrows through diverse Donkey Kong style arenas filled with increasingly more challenging environmental traps. Players can jump or run through one side of the screen and come out the other, which leads to hilariously satisfying and tactical head kills. TowerFall Ascension is about speed and precision. Overcoming opponents without dying is a true testament of one’s skills and reflexes. Every death is the result of player mishap. Every failure is a reflection of one’s abilities and never because the game is unfair.


"The newest version now offers a Quest mode, which is a single player experience that allows players to hone their skills before facing real-life challengers."

Originally released on the Ouya, TowerFall Ascension primarily focused on the 2-4 player versus mode. The newest version now offers a Quest mode, which is a single player experience that allows players to hone their skills before facing real-life challengers. The Quest mode consists of six stages, each summoning deadlier and trickier to defeat enemies. The gameplay here is a bit more formulaic with each enemy type having specific movement and attack patterns. But surprisingly enough, it doesn't make it any less challenging or fun. In fact, having the entire screen filled with rhythmically moving foes is sometimes tougher than avoiding only three opposing players. Both modes offer various power-ups including exploding arrows, which can be deadly to your archers if hit by the explosion. If I had to criticize anything, it would be the lack of additional powers. You’re pretty much left with just shooting arrows…and that is it. But to be fair, the simplicity is what makes TowerFall Ascension so appealing, so maybe the omission of further upgrades is for the best.


"This is meant for folks who grew up with Super Mario Smash Brothers and Goldeneye."

While TowerFall Ascension doesn’t take advantage of next-gen hardware, its art style is undeniably charming and the overall level designs are spectacular. Every layout is meticulously composed and the 8-bit aesthetics are perfectly fitting for the game’s tone. Accompanying the great visuals is a monster soundtrack. The background music is absurdly catchy and makes each battle encounter incredibly invigorating. TowerFall Ascension isn’t for everyone. Players who like the rush of demolishing COD or Battlefield newbies are clearly not the target audience. This is meant for folks who grew up with Super Mario Smash Brothers and Goldeneye. It’s for gamers who reminisce about traditional get-togethers when competitive gaming was more personal and intimate. For players like that… TowerFall Ascension is a damn fine masterpiece.

Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: Playstation 4

8.5

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