Tower of Guns
You would be unlikely to mistake Tower of Guns for a big studio, mega-budget first-person shooter, but you’d be equally as unlikely to call this as a game made by a development team apparently numbering just one. Joe Mirabello aka Terrible Posture Games is the said individual, having dropped out of mainstream game development to do something a little different. In that, Tower of Guns is a success even if it’s far from a perfect title.
Billed in some quarters as a rogue-like, randomly-generated game, it’s really neither – more rogue-lite, and random to a degree that will be unlikely to appease gamers of a more hardcore nature. The algorithms running behind the scenes certainly give the initial illusion of an endless variety of level layouts but it only takes a few playthroughs to see patterns start to emerge.
As a rogue-type game (shall we say), it certainly comes with the required difficulty. It’s not brutal to any particular degree but some joypad gnawing is a certainty, and death is built into the design. Players are tasked with running through the eponymous tower and facing off with a boss at the end of each section. Progression leads to unlocking, which leads to an easing off of the difficulty, but it takes a little time to get there.
Repeat plays of completed levels are worth it to unlock weapons and perks, as well as finding all the hidden secrets on each level. The eventual run-through time is pretty modest but getting yourself to that stage will take a good bit longer, so for the entry price, players should find enough bang for their buck.
Sadly, that ‘bang’ is not a reference to the Tower of Gun’s weaponry or combat, both of which fall a bit flat. Haptic feedback is negligible to the extent that a sawblade firing gun dubbed ‘the pizza cutter’ may as well be firing doughy masses of cheese and tomato. Aiming is also an issue with little in the way of aim-assist, a sign perhaps that this was built as a PC game for those playing with a mouse rather than a console joypad.
Graphically things are a lot better. Pegged somewhere between Quake and the cel-shaded visuals of Wind Waker, they’re a fitting style for a retro-tinged game of this nature. Memories of stalking the corridors of Doom are likely to flood back with older gamers, not least because elements like strafing and rocket-jumping make something of a comeback.
Furthermore, the presentation and ease-of-use that Mirabello has instilled into the game is impressive, and shaming for some equally complex-yet-muddled games by far bigger teams with a load more cash to throw about. Jumping in and getting a handle on things is near-textbook, with nary a tutorial in sight. What handholding Mirabello has put in is unobtrusive and is genuinely funny, a rarity in most games.
Tower of Guns receives a dose of goodwill due to its singular development, enough to paper over some of its foibles. Yet even despite them, it’s a game worthy of recommendation, though not one that will leave an indelible mark on you. If you come to it looking for a straightforward FPS you’ll be disappointed with the mechanics and the controls. As a rogue-like, it is, as we said, also left wanting – but as an overall package it presents a great challenge wrapped up in some pleasing aesthetics, with a classic ‘one more game’ mantra running through it.