'TowerFall Ascension' review - bring your friends

Tuesday, 25 March 2014 11:00 AM Written by 

 

TowerFallCover2To an outside observer who knows nothing about video games, four friends playing an arena brawler probably looks ridiculous. Four friends cram together on a couch built for three - or perhaps one opts to sit on the floor - each with a controller in hand. Then the match begins, as does the symphony of shrieks, gasps, and expletives. Four close friends are instantly turned into bitter rivals. The brawlers, like “Super Smash Bros.” and now “TowerFall,” provide that unique and chaotic fun.

“TowerFall,” an indie title created by Matt Thorson, perfectly captures that glorious chaos. This retro-style game was originally available for the problematic Ouya, but is now available on the PS4 under the new name of “TowerFall Ascension.” “Ascension” adds some new goodies to the original recipe like new levels and a new Quest mode for solo or co-op players.

But Battle mode, the four-player competitive mode, is the premier gametype. This mode acts as a perfect stand-in for “Super Smash Bros.,” “Bomberman,” or any other local party game that is considered the best in the genre. “TowerFall Ascension” deserves to be in the conversation.

Each player chooses a character: The Last of the Order, The Assassin Prince, Turncloak Soldier, or the Vigilante Thief. Each character has a different appearance, but the same attack and movement attributes to keep the battles balanced. A level consisting of platforms and a few interactive objects is chosen. The players spawn in a different corner of the stage, and the battle begins.

It’s a kill-or-be-killed game. Death can come in two ways: death by arrow, or death from above. Players can jump on an enemy to earn a kill. Arrows can be fired in any direction, but characters only have a limited amount. Fired arrows must then be collected on the battlefield to replenish the supply.

Chests randomly spawn throughout the matches that contain items like powered up arrows, shields, or other items that alter the playing field.

Rounds end when one player is left standing. The kill totals are tallied, and the first to 10 kills is the victor. “TowerFall” goes the extra mile in its flexibility. All of these settings, including kill totals, number of starting arrows, types of arrows, handicaps, and many, many other aspects of a match can be altered to the players’ likings.

Experimenting with the settings is half of the fun. Choosing to start with the laser arrows that ricochet off walls and ledges or exploding bomb arrows provide some ridiculous gametypes.

My personal favorites were exploding corpses (pretty self-explanatory) and ghost mode. In ghost mode, fallen players come back as ghosts. Those ghosts can then earn kills by enacting revenge on the person who killed them. Killing a foe and then immediately running from its spirit controlled by a friend provided painful laughing fits.

There are hundreds of match-altering setting combinations that can be adjusted and enjoyed. It’s up to the players to find the gems that provide the most laughs.

 

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Quest mode has the same gameplay, only now a solo player or co-op duo take on waves of computer-controlled enemies. This provides a serious challenge in the later waves, and one that is best experienced with a partner. These levels of waves can be attempted repeatedly to try to improve upon the best completion time.

This is the only mode that can be enjoyed by a solo player. “TowerFall” is designed to be played with friends locally. This means there is no online multiplayer. If you have no friends nearby who would be willing to play this, your money would be best spent elsewhere. If you do have those friends at your disposal, your money shouldn’t be spent on anything other than “TowerFall.” This is the best party game to come out since “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” six years ago.

 

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Online play would’ve been a welcome sight, but it doesn’t make the gameplay any less fun. I hope that this feature is added in a patch. Another improvement request is the aspect ratio. The gameplay is always in 4:3, rather than the current HD standard of 16:9. There are constant sidebars that are just wasted screen space. “TowerFall” has a retro style, but even today’s retro-style games are displayed in full HD.

“TowerFall” ascension is a must-buy for PS4 owners, but there’s a caveat. You have to have local friends who are ready and willing to play it, not to mention four $60 controllers. If you have all of that, prepare to have some of the most multiplayer fun available on a gaming console. But in today’s online-heavy gaming landscape, that’s not the easiest thing to find.

9 out of 10

 

Pros:

Multiplayer brawler perfection
Dozens of match settings that can create hundreds of custom matches
Quest mode provides a solid challenge for solo or co-op players

Cons:

Not presented in 16:9 ratio
No online play

 Release Date   3/11/14 
 Price   $14.99
 Platfrom  PS4
 Rated   E for Everyone 

 

 

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