There was a time that Tower of Guns would have been par for first-person shooters. You begin on the ground floor of a tower and proceed to climb to the top, battling an army of murderous robots along the way. There are guns, but none of them are familiar to what we know a gun to be. You can jump not once, not twice, but as many times as you have been able to scrounge together jumping power ups. The story can literally be toggled on or off. It is all very Spartan in its design and very, very, hectic.
Tower of Guns by Terrible Posture Games brings together the double-jumping, strafing, gibbing, madness of classic shooters and the current roguelike craze to create something of a first-person bullet-hell nightmare. In many ways, the game feels almost like a toolbox given to the player by some strange god of chaos. You are not trying to rescue anyone, nor stop some great evil, but instead ascending the floors of a building that wants nothing so much as to kill you. Why are you doing this? Because you’ve been given the means to do it, I suppose. Because it’s fun.
Before each attempt at the top, you choose your gun and your perk. The guns vary, but none require ammo, which is a small gift. You begin with a choice between a pea-shooter and a disc-launcher, neither of which is great, but one of which tells you explicitly to pick the other unless you’re looking for a bad time. Similarly, you’re given a choice between two perks: triple-jump at the start, or immunity to fall damage. I went with the triple jump and wished almost immediately that I could have taken both. As is the case with all great things, Tower of Guns starts you off slow and ramps up quickly.
"Tower of Guns by Terrible Posture Games brings together the double-jumping, strafing, gibbing, madness of classic shooters and the current roguelike craze to create something of a first-person bullet-hell nightmare."
Through the course of playing the game you will unlock more guns and perks. Whether through surviving an exorbitant amount of damage, completing a stage under a set amount of time, or simply reaching the top alive, it’s rare to come away from a run without unlocking something new. I use the term “run” because the combination of permanent death and a short overall playtime means that the goal of the game is not so much to beat it as to show it who’s boss. Over and over again. Even when it tries to bring its own bosses to bear upon you.
The titular tower is broken up into stages, in which you will battle bots of myriad type, ranging from spikeball launching turrets, to hovering buzzsaws, similar to the manhacks in Half-Life 2. Rooms may be six simple walls forming a cube, they may also be a sea of giant bullets that you have to shoot a path through. Such is the nature of the randomize roguelike shooter: you never know what’s going to be in the next room, or what the next room will be itself. In the case of boss rooms, you’re like to find a lone arena, inside of which is some new machination of your demise. Usually covered in spikes. And spitting bullets.
"Rooms may be six simple walls forming a cube, they may also be a sea of giant bullets that you have to shoot a path through."
Tower of Guns offers three different modes to play the game in: Normal, Endless, and Dice Roll. While Normal is a fine introduction to the game, you will find most of your fun in Endless and Dice Roll. As is to be expected, Endless mode keeps going until you die, meaning the tower can essentially go on forever. With each stage offering the player several different power-ups - ranging from more health to actually increasing the overall difficulty of the game - Endless mode not only shows you how immensely frantic the game can become, but just how powerful you as the player can get. At one point I had so many extra-jump upgrades that I could basically fly. It still didn’t help much in a room filled with bullets.
"Despite what can be, at times, sluggish gameplay, Tower of Guns is a very entertaining game and worth picking up for the sole joy of carving a path through an airfield of giant, hateful, bullets."
While I enjoyed Endless mode, I feel that Dice Roll is where the most insane and often times fatal situations play out. When you choose Dice Roll at the beginning of a run, you are signing up for something strange to happen at the start of each room. This can range from the entire room being played in slow motion, to every enemy dropping upgrades of a various type. Joe Mirabello, the creator of Tower of Guns, refers to Dice Roll as “silly” mode and I don’t think I could say it better. There’s no real goal or endgame to Dice Roll mode, it’s just ridiculous. In many ways, it speaks directly Tower of Guns’s greatest strength: simple, silly, fun.
Despite what can be, at times, sluggish gameplay, Tower of Guns is a very entertaining game and worth picking up for the sole joy of carving a path through an airfield of giant, hateful, bullets. While the game’s intentionally repetitive design and lack of any solid narrative left me less than inspired to return to it after my first few hours, I can see myself picking it up from time to time when I’ve got an hour to kill. Unless you’ve never played an old-school shooter like Doom or Wolfenstein, or perhaps you’re looking for a bit of nostalgia, Tower of Guns isn’t for everyone. For those of you looking for silly chaos, however, there is much to be had here.
Review by: Jeff Ellis | Reviewed on: Playstation 4