I do not believe I’m passionate enough about Tower of Guns just yet to confirm whether or not I already have a copy on Steam thanks to some bundle or giveaway, but it matters not for PlayStation Plus subscribers get it for free this month. On both PS3 and PS4, I believe. Incidentally, I keep mistyping it as Tower of Funs more times than I’d like to admit. In between prepping for East Coast Comic Con this weekend, I’ve run the tower a handful of times, improving with each go.
What is Tower of Guns, you ask? And you don’t mean metaphorically? Well, it is a single-player first-person shooter with rogue-like elements developed by Terrible Posture Games. Yeah, that’s a mouthful. Let me see if I can come up with something better. It’s a bit like Borderlands meets The Binding of Isaac, with each enemy-filled room randomly generated and a par time set for the entire level. You can perform specific tasks while you play to unlock new perks or guns, as well as collect experience point orbs to level up your currently equipped weapon. Oh, and it’s also quite a lot of fun, more than I expected when dipping my hairy toe in.
Strangely, there’s a story, but one could completely ignore it or even turn it off in the options, which I’ve not actually done yet. It’s pretty easy to not pay attention to. It’s also immensely difficult to pay attention to at other times. Basically, as you move from room to room, some dialogue boxes will appear on the screen, but nothing anyone says seems to be important, and some of it comes across as randomized. The fourth wall will break, with you occasionally addressed as gamer, which I was not a fan of, as that word continues to sour in my mind thanks to the atrocities of GamerGate supporters. Your goal is to get as far as you can, ideally to the end, the tippy top, in a single run. You will first have to survive a number of standard enemy-filled rooms and then battle a boss before moving on to the next tier of the tower.
Tower of Guns is both a fast and short game, with the strategy for just about every enemy you encounter being shooting while strafing. A few bosses will require some extra planning, especially the finaler boss, who I could not take down on my first try. The difficulty, which can be raised or lowered via pick-ups and perks, really stems more from the level design. Some rooms are shockingly dull–imagine just four walls, maybe a staircase, and little to no decorations–while other rooms have teleporting pads and high platforms to maneuver around, plus a bunch of flying tanks and turrets shooting at you non-stop. You never know what you’re going to get once you shoot a door to open it Metroid-style.
Now, I’ve run into two walls so far. Not literally, though there are plenty of walls in this game. First, the game froze on a loading screen, though I think it might’ve been more my cat Timmy’s fault, since he knocked the controller out of my hand as Tower of Guns was loading the next area, forcing it to lock up. This was extremely unfortunate as I was on my ninth run and doing really well in terms of health and progress and taking down bosses–and all that was nonexistent when I loaded the game back up. Secondly, for a bullet hell-themed game, some of the rooms where the bullets are plentiful and hellish cause the frame rate to drop immensely, stuttering away at an unplayable clip. You’d think with the less-than-taxing art style and new hardware that this sort of issue wouldn’t ever pop up, but it does.
I’m definitely going to keep at Tower of Guns until I unlock the majority of the guns and perks, but unlike other rogue-likes, such as Spelunky and The Binding of Isaac, this one doesn’t feel like it’s going to last forever. Eventually the repetition will outweigh the randomness, and the tower will crumble, but not before I’ve wrung every bit of fun from it. Until then, may you always start each run with the ability to triple jump.