I was first introduced to Tower of Guns at Boston Festival of Indie Games late last year. At the time, a crowd of people were racing through the randomly generated levels, exploiting all the bugs in the alpha. Using an unintended infinite jumping glitch, one player blew his way to the stage’s boss in a matter of seconds. Everyone had a great time (even the creator who seemed impressed with participants’ bug hunting abilities,) but the folly of exploiting an engine didn’t really allow me to understand what the true game had to offer. Before I knew it, I had to move on; never truly grasping what the point of the core mechanics were. Luckily, I got a chance to sit down with the real game earlier last week and I’m happy to report the bugs have been fixed, but not forgotten.
Tower of Guns is a rouge-like FPS where players are given a choice of a firearm and perk and then are left to their own devices for survival in a world of scrap metal cannons, sentient buzz saws and roaming explosives. As the player progresses, they will grab a variety of drops that allow them to level up their gun, making it stronger and more accurate. Each hit reduces your gun’s level meter, so your actual health bar becomes somewhat of an afterthought as you struggle to stay as powerful as possible. But when shear skill and level advantage just won’t cut it, the game provides a series of mods and power-ups that can spawn anywhere at any time. Enemies have a small chance of dropping upgrades that will offer a variety of benefits (or hindrances) to the player. While you have your expected effects such as armor, health, luck, etc., the developers added a few that explains the uproar during the demo. The inclusion of jump height increases as well as the actual amount of times you can jump while in the air, adding a heavy platforming element to the already frantic FPS presentation. This allows you to dodge and juke through the sky past the salvo of bullets and explosions to better your chance of survival or, if you’re lucky, uncover one of the many secrets hidden throughout each course.
True to classic FPS fashion, each area is littered with secrets for the player to find as they clear out each room. Some are on higher platforms one could only reach with five or six air jumps or tricky parkour, while others could be lingering behind intricately placed false walls (Bonus: as soon as you start a game, walk backwards through the wall to find a hidden Easter egg with various powerups.) Though each stage is clocking your time, the game rewards you for exploring and you may be too weak or poor or underpowered to make it very far if you don’t. While there are many rooms to be generated, the secrets are always in the same place within that room. But you are given incentive to investigate them each time because what gets hidden within always changes.
The rouge-like elements are essentially par for the course, what with randomly generated rooms and randomly generated enemies that drop randomly generated pickups, but one element unexpectedly effected by this genre is the story. Every game starts up a new tales of who you are an why you’re fighting your way up this tower. They are all delightfully absurd, but due to the tongue in cheek nature of the game and first person perspective, it’s totally believable that you’d be playing a private eye dog helping out a CIA operative to find hidden machine ware or a cowgirl running away from zombies. It’s a concept so simple, but so refreshing and new to the genre that adds a thick layer of charm to what the game already has to offer.
Tower of Guns has a lot to offer. Its core game mechanics make it easy to pick up and understand, but its rouge-like tendencies give each new game a fresh feeling. The upgrades and mods all make you feel like a badass and the alternating secrets promote a well needed sense of exploration that could easily be lost in the chaotic atmosphere. The game never takes itself too seriously and is aware of the situation it designed itself around. It uses this to immerse and entertain the player in ways new to the genre and gives itself a fresh charm that most Indie developers strive for. Although there is a lack of what direction damage is coming from and, in such anarchy, this can be a problem, it didn’t hinder my experience. What was meant to be a simple few hours of gameplay for a review quickly turned into days of playing and invites to my friends to join in for an entire day. I couldn’t recommend Tower of Guns any more. If you’re a fan of FPS’ or rouge-likes at all, you’d be seriously missing out on a experience you’ll never forget.