Published On: Sat, Mar 15th, 2014 on 7:00 am

Games: Tower of Guns – A Love Letter to Artillery

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Tower Of Guns Game

The original ‘Rogue’ game was released in 1980, and as such pre-dates my own existence, however Roguelikes as a genre have been with us ever since.

It’s something of a niche genre typically appealing to a more hardcore audience so you could easily be forgiven for not being familiar with it. At its core, its principal features are a random generation of levels, items, powerups, enemies etc. giving the player a unique experience every time. This is paired with a permadeath system. No lives, no game saves to go back to. If, during your exploits, you happen to expire, you must begin again at square one with a fresh and random game ahead of you.

Broadly speaking, this kind of thing has been applied mostly to dungeon-crawling type games. There’s exceptions, no doubt, but fantasy, swords and sorcery are the norm. It’s a little unusual, then, to see this formula applied to a first-person shooter game, but that’s exactly what Tower of Guns has done.

Developed by one-man studio Terrible Posture Games, the game sees you embark upon a quest to climb the eponymous Tower of Guns, which is literally made of guns. You can pick out a gun of your own and an extra perk to give you a little extra advantage and then shoot your way through a long and complex series of rooms filled with – you guessed it – even more guns. Hundreds of various gun-toting robots and many more mounted cannons and turrets will hail fury down upon you from almost any space a gun could be located. Some guns are so big you’ll mistake them for part of the environment. That is, until they shoot you. Suffice to say this game really enjoys its guns.

Because this game does draw on roguelike influences, no two playthroughs will be the same. Each of the game’s levels draws upon a pool of rooms and will take a few random ones and connect them to form the level. Within these rooms the enemies will be randomised too, so even if you’ve seen a room before chances are high you’re still going to get something unexpected. Powerups scatter from the remains of all the guns you’ll be smashing, granting you anything from increased damage or movement speed, to multiple jumps which stack indefinitely, and if you’re fortunate enough to grab a lot of them grant you powers comparable to flight. You’ll want at least a few of these to gain access to the numerous hidden areas in levels which will often reward you with further powerups.

Bosses, of which there are numerous and again chosen at random, will drop additional usable items or gun modifiers which will again change how the game plays, for example allowing bullets to place mines upon impact, or allowing a rocket launcher to be fired like a shotgun. It’s all fantastically silly and its influences from old-school fast paced shooters such as Quake, Unreal or Doom are plain to see.

Even your character and motives for trying to conquer this tower are chosen at random. There are a number of different story scenarios which will play out through a series of chat boxes at the top of the screen at the start of each level and while your first run will be guided by the tutorial bot, later you may be the heiress to the Baconfeller fortune talking to your butler as you go or one of any number of other narratives.

A single playthrough is short (assuming you survive, which is often not the case), on the order of about an hour. However replay value is high, as you’ll begin the game with only two of a total of ten guns available to be used with the remaining eight requiring you to perform a number of tasks within the tower to unlock. The same goes for perks, only offering a triple jump or the negating of fall damage initially, but with a whole host of alternatives for those willing to put a little work in. You’ll want to come back, not just to see what the game has in store this time around, but to try and grab more toys to work with.

The game has a great visual style too, with everything having a unique hand drawn look not dissimilar to but still distinctly different from other cel-shaded games like the Borderlands series. The music, an excellent accompaniment to your rampage through the halls, is provided by the developer’s brother, proving the family to be exceptionally talented as a whole.

On the whole, there’s a lot to like about Tower of Guns. It’s a lot of fun right from the get-go and can easily keep you entertained for a long time without ever demanding a lot of your time at once. It’s something I can wholly recommend.

Tower of Guns is out now for PC. For more information, please visit www.towerofguns.com.

About the Author

Jon Biggin

- Founder and Co-ordinator of Bradford-based video gaming collective, Button Mash.

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