Tower of Guns
The first-person shooter genre has evolved into a diverse web that includes everything from open-world titles to methodical puzzle games. That’s a far cry from the shooters of the ‘90s, which were linear journeys where players strafed enemy fire as they unloaded a massive arsenal on an army of single-minded foes. Fans with a strong nostalgia for that bygone era will feel at home with Tower of Guns.
Tower of Guns throws players into a series of randomly generated rooms full of automated turrets and buzz-saw drones that appear in a flash of smoke every time you enter a room. The early levels are a breeze, but the difficulty quickly ramps up. Enemies drop health and weapon powerups as you climb this tricky tower, and you can fully upgrade your weapon to fire off an endless barrage of hot lead in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, enemies come running at you faster than you can dismantle them, and the later rooms are filled with a gauntlet of hazards that rarely give you a chance to catch your breath. The explosive chaos is as thrilling as it is deadly.
The action itself is a loving throwback to games like Doom and Quake, complete with hidden secrets behind fake walls and background visuals steeped in the sci-fi grunge popular in older shooters. Most rooms are large, open environments with little cover, and enemies run at you en masse. The basics aren’t complicated, but I wish the combat was tighter; Terrible Posture Games originally released Tower of Guns almost a year ago on PC, and it was clearly designed with a mouse-and-keyboard scheme in mind. On consoles, it features none of the aim-assist technology common in popular console shooters. Thankfully, Tower of Guns mitigates this lack of precision by offering up guns that function like a fire-alarm sprinklers, spraying bullets in all directions. Enemies also drop perks that make you feel more capable in other areas, granting you quadruple jumps or causing your bullets to ricochet off walls.
Your individual attempts are short, but Tower of Guns is infinitely replayable. Each level starts by displaying a par completion time that’s usually under five minutes, and you can run to the final boss in less than an hour. However, it’s more than likely you won’t make it to the boss on your first run. Terrible Posture Games encourages players to replay this roguelike FPS by slowly unveiling new perks and weapons that are carried over from one run to the next. After getting cut down by a swarm of drones, I restarted with a newly unlocked rocket launcher and a perk that boosted my speed, then left a trail of terror all the way to the final boss. Unlocking new guns and perks was a temping carrot that kept me coming back even after my first successful boss run.
While Tower of Guns provides some nice bite-sized fun, it’s not a very deep experience and it feels more like a game to occupy your time between meatier entertainment options. The environments continually change, but none of them are fun to explore. The A.I. rarely does anything interesting, and the gameplay is straightforward enough that a sense of tedium sets in.
It’s hard to really describe Tower of Gun’s narrative, because every time you load up a playthrough you’re introduced to a new story, which can center on anything from a young cowgirl running from zombies to a secret agent infiltrating a hidden base to a couple of robots designed to mimic the developers as they talk about how stupid these random scenarios are. These “plots” are really just onscreen captions and add a little flavor to the experience but don’t really affect the gameplay in any way. The writing is pretty clever, but since Tower of Guns is so chaotic, I was rarely able to read all of the text, and I wasn’t able to follow many of these tales to completion anyway, since I often died before reaching the final boss.
The journey through Tower of Guns is what makes it fun; it isn’t a game about completion. Its intense firefights and ever-evolving environments are best enjoyed in short bursts. Many of your attempts end in failure, which might entice you to put the controller down, but its classic high-octane action is enough to lure you back for another run – at least for a while.
Fans with a strong nostalgia
for the Doom-era will feel at home with Tower of Guns.