Reviews

TowerFall: Ascension Review – Arrow in the Knee?

Last summer, TowerFall was released exclusively for Ouya and received quite a positive reception. This March, the game debuted on PlayStation 4 as a definitive version renamed “TowerFall: Ascension“.  When I got my hands on it, I was excited to see what makes this game appeal to so many people, and does it live up to the hype.

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Gameplay

In TowerFall, the player takes control of archers whose mission is to survive from multiple enemy hordes in order to unlock new maps and characters. The idea is to master your archery skills and avoid getting killed by various monsters. The game provides a great amount of challenge, since shooting and aiming right way demands skills from the player. Especially, if you want to kill as many enemies as possible at once to create massive combos. The more enemies you hit, the more points you will gain.

Mastering archery takes longer than one would expect but I would have wanted more variation from the gameplay. The problem is that it starts to feel slightly repetitive after a few hours.  Even though there are four different characters to choose from, they don’t have any special abilities or anything else than a different skin. By looting treasure chests, player may unlock power ups: wings that let him fly around the stage, additional arrows which may be even deadly than the ordinary ones, or a magnificent shield which protects from coming enemy attacks. This is the only way TowerFall creates a nice element of surprise to the survival and changes the direction of the battle.  Nonetheless, I wish the developers would have added more character-specific abilities to bring some longevity to the gameplay. It may have demanded more effort on balancing the game but this way everyone would have found a character fitting to their style.

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Game Modes

There are three game modes in TowerFall: Ascension: Quests, Trials and Versus.On Trials Mode, the player’s mission is to destroy targets as fast as possible to break time records. These maps are unique for the trials mode and each of them have own records to be broken. Once you master your skills and complete all stages ASAP, you will be greatly rewarded.

TowerFall: Ascension is being promoted for its multiplayer. Be aware that all multiplayer features/modes are local only, and they demand multiple controllers. This may be a deal breaker for players who don’t have additional controllers or even worse – no friends to play with. This is what I had to face and thus I didn’t get a chance to experience the multiplayer. This made me wonder: Why a game which main focus is multiplayer doesn’t provide any online modes? We’re living in 2014, after all.

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New in Ascension is the 1- or 2-player co-op Quest mode. Players work together to survive from enemy hordes and nemesis archers across the land of TowerFall. As promising as it sounds, it is disappointing because it doesn’t have any kind of story, and the co-op is limited to local multiplayer.

Art Direction

TowerFall’s art direction relies on classic retro stylized appearance. Honestly, it’s starting to feel a bit cliché when it is coming from an indie game. I’ve always wondered why do indie games tend to rely on old-school looks so often? Anyway, sprites and environments are quite well done, and it’s enjoyable to follow the gameplay.  The art direction works but doesn’t provide a unique approach.

Music

Surprisingly, music was one of my favorite things about TowerFall. It has this nice medieval yet modern touch to it. Feeling the influence from the past games is inevitable but it was great to hear the composer combining normal instruments and old synch together. It simply fits perfectly to the mood. Altogether, the original soundtrack provides a journey from the darker times to brighter days.

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In Conclusion

TowerFall: Ascension may be a great game for people who have enough controllers and friends to arrange a party. This way it’s possible to experience all multiplayer features the game has to provide.  But for single players, TowerFall: Ascension will likely remain a disappointment. Not because the game is bad but because they don’t get access to enjoy all content.The fact is the multiplayer is the core of the game but also its Achilles tendon since multiplayer features are limited to local only. The lack of online multiplayer feels quite weird in 2014 and it means all players can’t experience the whole game without investing in another controller. Thus, the contents remain quite flat, and in my opinion it won’t provide enough for a single player to justify the €13.95 price tag. For local multiplayers? Perhaps.

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1 reply »

  1. Once again a great review! I really enjoyed the fact you pointed this game may not provide much for people who don’t own many controllers etc. I think it’s completely true and sad. This game would have been so much more fun if there was online multiplayer!

    Also I totally agree it’s getting a bit cliche even annoying that indie games always use that retro sprite “old-school” look…

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