Review: Tower of Guns

If you've ever been so masochistically inclined to be the minion in a tower defense game, well...

Tower of Guns is a different take on Tower Defense and FPS games. That is to say, you are trying to make your way through this tower. Actually it’s more like a fortress – a fortress decorated with missiles and flying robots trying to kill you. This game will make you strafe like you’ve never strafed before.

Are you strafing yet? No? Aw now look – you’re dead! The whole point is to try and get through the levels without dying since there are no lives; there’s only success or failure. After a certain amount of levels, you will make it to a boss fight or two and complete the game. But have you really completed it? Not really, because every level seems to be randomly generated. If not, there are enough levels to make it feel pretty diverse – well, at least as diverse as it can be inside a tower. There are a good bunch of unlockables and secrets to be found, and I don’t even know where to begin looking. I have only unlocked three guns right now, and I started with two.

Big ballistic bullets!

The guns are nice so far. I’d like to be able to find more to show you, but, alas, I don’t find things very well and walkthroughs aren’t out yet. Your gun and character can get upgrades from enemy drops or little item pickup areas spread out in each level. Some of these areas are entirely hidden, while others are scattered in obvious and difficult-to-reach places. Things like critical-strike gun mods are quite powerful and can make the difference between passing a stage or failing it miserably. Other useful improvements include getting to jump higher or even being able to do extra jumps. As in, getting a double jump, then a triple, and so on. The game is very fast-paced and generally can be beaten in less than 15 minutes in one run, although you’ll hardly be content with that. At the same time, having such a short time frame of play and no difficulty setting (difficulty also comes in the form of drops) means that not everyone will be keen on playing this for very long.

To give you an idea of the style and graphics, think Unreal Tournament  or Quake.  It’s lo-fi, but controls are very solid. The hit boxes seem well done, and the game delivers a consistent experience, but nothing stands out. That’s the biggest fault of the game; it just doesn’t bring anything new visually or gameplay-wise except for a bit of nostalgia.

Tower of Guns is a fun, but ridiculously short, experience.

As mentioned, this is not a graphically impressive game. An FPS in this style doesn’t have to be, but the textures and overall worlds could have been made with a little more detail. The sounds are also reminiscent of an older style. Then again, how does your pizza launcher sound? I’ve noticed a bit of a bug with the sound as well; when I dabbled in the options and tried to go into a game, the sound effects and music would turn off when I was pressing keys and would come back on when I stopped moving for a few seconds. It’s like the sounds could no longer stack onto each other. Maybe I have the magic touch – who knows?

I usually like introducing games with a hint of the story; the reason I haven’t done it in this review is, well, because the game lacks a story entirely. There are little tidbits of info shown to you at pretty much every level entry, but as far as a story, nothing at all. I’m kind of split on this, as a story can make a game like this all the more interesting to play through; on the other hand, with such a short experience, I’m not sure there would be any story that could fit within the timeframe and be of any real use. In this case, with so little time to get attached, not having characters might be the right decision, but I still feel like something of depth is missing. It’s like the game never gets me to completely sink my teeth into it. Without any major presentation value and only retro-looking FPS soundbites and graphics to hold onto, I feel like my interest slips away too easily.

It’s hard to say how much more could be put in with the excessively simple game style and short playtime, but there’s obviously some holes. The experience isn’t really enhanced by the overall presentation, but it doesn’t fall apart, either, and that’s enough considering the type of game we’re playing. Presentation is usually relevant to its environment; sometimes things fitting in is enough for that particular situation.

Well, it is called Tower of Guns…

Lack of a multiplayer mode and a single player mode with a very short playthrough will cost Tower of Guns  a lot of value points here. At $15 and taking into account that your experience might get dull after a few hours, you’re starting to get into “movie” price range, so you’d better really like the game. I do like it, but there isn’t enough depth to hold my interest for long. It’s almost like playing an app where you just pick it up and have a blast, then put it down and not play it for a while. The price isn’t that far off, but the limited modes especially hurt the game here.

Tower of Guns is a fun little game that doesn’t offer you very much, but what is there is worth playing. In a longer version or one with a few extra modes, I could see this having a bit of a cult following of sorts. I look at a game like Loadout  and think that if this game had multiplayer or other modes, it wouldn’t be impossible to reach close to that level of popularity. But until then, there isn’t enough replay value to recommend this title right away over other things in the genre.

This review is based on a digital version of  Tower of Guns for the PC provided to 3GEM by the publisher.

The Verdict

Gameplay: 6.5

Low-fi, fun, and challenging.

Presentation: 5.5

Doesn’t stick out, for good or bad.

Value: 5.5

Short (15 minutes) and a tad expensive.

Overall Score

*Overall score is not an average.