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Review: The Deadly Tower of Monsters

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If you're a fan of science fiction from the 70's, the veneer of a movie from that era may appeal to you enough for you to overcome the shortcomings.

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Some games have a great concept, I mean a *great* concept that shouldn’t fail.

The Deadly Tower of Monsters has that concept but fumbles the execution.

Presented as a studio session between the director of a Z-grade science fiction film and an audio engineer recording the commentary track for a DVD, you play the game while every little thing is explained to you.

“Dick Missile penetrating deep into a black hole and then going to Uranus”

2016-01-17_00001The game itself a mouse driven, top-down action/adventure game. Players are tasked with climbing the titular Tower of Monsters while collecting gold to upgrade their abilities and obtaining new and bizarre weapons like a pair of scissors which can be used to cut down enemies dangling from strings.

That is one thing I really like about this game. The entire thing plays out as a movie so occasionally you’ll see mistakes or obvious weirdness such as an enemy holding a doll of your character. It is similar to what Sega did with House of the Dead: Overkill in which the game has intentional screw ups or outtakes making the “final cut”, so to speak.

The running joke is that there was almost zero budget and it begins to wear thin after a while. At one point they’re talking about running out of money and using dogs with vacuum cleaners attached to their heads and it’s almost funny but you know what the punchline is to that joke (“WE RAN OUT OF BUDGET”) because that joke has been told three or four times already.

You can turn the voice off, but the artistic crux of the story shouldn’t make you want to turn off what is driving the exposition.

Beyond that, most of the attempted jokes are just not very funny. A lot of it simply amounts to really awkward conversation between the director and the audio engineer which is enough to distract you from the game. To be fair, some of the jokes are on point but generally, it’s just a lot of chuckling about the budget and what person animated a stop motion dinosaur.

*Click click click*

In general game play you use your mouse to aim your weapons and clicking either mouse button uses either your projectile weapon or your melee weapon. Characters are also able to utilize their special abilities to do things like slow down time or run across conveyor belts.

Wondering whether you have access to power ups? Well you’d be happy to hear there is an upgrade system that uses skill points obtained from finishing missions to buff your stats. Missions can range from jumping through hoops to finishing points in the story to breaking eggs and they’re varied enough.

One of the biggest problems with Tower is the forced perspective. During platforming sections you have trouble seeing where you’re supposed to land and not being able to move the camera is utterly frustrating.2016-01-16_00006

Climbing the tower is just not as fun as it should be. I don’t know whether it’s the perspective, the over reliance on awkward platforming or the repetitive enemies. Enemies are endlessly recycled and when you think you’ve made enough progress to see new ones, they act almost identically to the ones you just escaped. If the combat was fun, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but it just isn’t.

There are tons of different weapons to use but having a lot of weapons doesn’t mean anything if you’re not enjoying using them. Going further, I noticed while playing that I was just clicking constantly. In a game like Diablo 3, enemy variety and the promise of loot make you forget you’re clicking but I was so bored by the combat in Tower, that I was focussing more on the clicking than I was on the game.

Bosses also drag on way too long. Most of the bosses in the game have a sequence that needs to be beaten in order to actually fight them and some, like the mechameleon, seem to drag on forever.

Speaking of dragging on forever, if you want to add a little meat to your game you can engage in some free-falling which lets you guide your character through some hoops. You might be wondering why you’d want to do this but you absolutely must to make your life easier with skill points.

Z-grade graphics

2016-01-18_00002To begin with, some of the graphical effects in Tower are awesome. The stop motion style dinosaurs and other enemies look fantastic and I love the use of visible strings and little sight gags like a giant apes arm being paper mache.

However, beyond the trappings of the movie style effects are some of the ugliest textures I have seen in a long time and character models which wouldn’t look out of place 6 years ago. It’s actually really inconsistent with the quality of the textures in the game but they’re generally quite murky and low quality.

Beyond the graphics is the soundtrack which is consistently brilliant. It perfectly echoes the kind of music that was all of the rage during the period of cinema that I know and love being the 70’s and 80’s. The voice acting is good enough and conveys the illusion of a sci-fi movie from the 70’s well. I especially like the Robot’s dialogue, talking with a vocoder.

The Mediocre Tower of Monsters

Tower is not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. It’s done and that’s asking a lot from modern game designers. It’s just boring. I don’t know how, it just is. Climbing the tower is a tedious and exhausting exercise that pits you against the same enemies over and over again with the only breaks being either overly long boss sequences or irritating platforming sequences. These frustrations are somewhat mitigated by being able to teleport but it’s not enough to overshadow the many mediocre qualities that the game possesses.

If you’re a fan of science fiction from the 70’s, the veneer of a movie from that era may appeal to you enough for you to overcome the shortcomings. The graphics look good sometimes and the music is awesome. It’s a real shame because it seemed like something I’d love before I played it, but I guess it belongs in the restricted section of the video store.

Pros

  • Is finished
  • The premise is unique
  • Decent enough control
  • Music is excellent

Cons

  • Tedious gameplay
  • The tower just keeps on going
  • Low quality graphics
  • The constant narration wears thin
  • Bosses drag on forever

3-SN-Average

Review code provided by ATLUS

Andrew Pine

Hailing from Australia, Andrew is a budding games journalist with years of experience and a hefty collection. He's a PAL collector and Sega Saturn obsessive who is aiming at collecting every PAL released Saturn game. Yes, even Deep Fear.

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