By and large, Tower of Guns is a mash-up of three genres: bullet hell games, old-school first-person shooters and roguelikes. Think Doom and Quake, but with the intensity ramped up a few notches.
The ultimate goal in Tower of Guns is to progress from room to room, shooting at anything mechanical that tries to do you harm, in order to defeat the tower in the quickest possible time. There’s no princess to capture, no dastardly antagonist to overcome, in fact, there’s no plot to speak of… and it doesn’t need it.
Whilst this may not sound like an original or particularly exhilarating concept, each playthrough is made fresh through the inclusion of randomly-generated rooms. As a result, no two runs are ever the same, and the difficulty spike of each room becomes unpredictable.
Developer Terrible Posture Games throws another spanner in the works via the lack of checkpoints, meaning every attempt at overcoming the tower starts at the very beginning of the game. This would be a tedious and frustrating process if it wasn’t for the fact an entire run can be completed within thirty minutes. After all, Tower of Guns is labelled as a “lunchbreak FPS”.
Prior to each run, players are able to choose their load out, including their weapon and perk of choice. Such perks include the ability to jump multiple times, to become immune to environmental damage (including lava and spikes) and increased speed/armour. Further weapons and perks can be unlocked by meeting certain conditions throughout the tower.
Another factor that has a significant impact on the gameplay is loot, which is gathered by defeating enemies and exploring the secret areas in the various rooms. Such loot includes coins, health, power-ups, modifiers and XP pickups. Like perks, the power-ups and modifiers enhance the experience; sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. It’s all about getting the right balance in preparation for the bosses.
Found in the last room of each stage, the bosses (which are also randomly generated) are presented in a wide range of character designs. These range from rotating spiked walls, known as the Big Ol’ Spikeroom, to a pipe organ loaded with weapons. Whereas they provide a considerable difficulty spike in comparison to the tower’s other mechanical offerings, the vast majority can easily be overcome by strafing while firing.
The action in Tower of Guns takes place over three different game modes: Normal, Endless and Dice Roll. While Normal provides a solid introduction to the title, it’s the latter modes which provide the most enjoyment. As the name suggests, Endless continues from room to room until the player dies, meaning the tower can essentially go on forever. The longer players survive, the more frantic it becomes, as accumulated power-ups are stacked.
Meanwhile, Dice Roll spices up the gameplay by offering a different power-up at the beginning of each stage, from the entire room playing out in slow motion to enemies dropping certain modifications. There’s no real objective; it’s just old-fashioned fun and a lot of mayhem.
Despite all it strong points, Tower of Guns does suffer from some noticeable flaws. The random generation of enemies can cause some rooms to become overly-populated. As a result, the framerate significantly drops, and the game can become highly dysfunctional.
The level design also proves problematic at times, as players will frequently find themselves trapped within the game’s framework. While this can be resolved through the “tilt” function (which resets players back to the beginning of the area), it’s still somewhat of an inconvenience. Not to mention that the visuals themselves feel particularly outdated.
On the whole, Tower of Guns is an interesting take on the classic arena shooter. While it could do with a bit more polish and additional content, there is still a lot of fun and enjoyment to be had, even if it is in short bursts. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but Tower of Guns is definitely one to consider.