“In a dystopian, dieselpunk world, where Megatowers are the only enclaves of civilization, a group of extraordinary individuals is sent so infiltrate the reclusive Tower 57. Their skills, clips’ capacity & the ability to cooperate will decide of their fate.”
This is the basic pitch to Tower 57: a neo-retro twin stick shooter that you’ll absolutely fall madly in love with. I don’t know what triggered this feeling for me, but ever since I saw the game’s logo, I was instantly charmed. A lot of independent studios use pixel-art graphics for their games, and often fail to make it look convincing. This isn’t the case for Tower 57, the game looks absolutely gorgeous, technically and artistically. The dark sewers, mysterious laboratories and the oppressive city that you visit all look fantastic, and I was immersed right off the bat.
Starting the game lets you pick three heroes from a list of six very stereotyped characters: The Don, The Scientist, The Officer, The Beggar, The Diplomat (basically Abraham Lincoln), and the Spy. Once this choice is made, the payer is sent on a train to Tower 57 to unravel the mysteries that shroud it. I will not reveal any other plot points because the story was fun and interesting to follow.
Fast-paced, brutal and challenging are keywords that perfectly describe the gameplay. Each character gets two weapons, a side tool (from the classic grenade to an exploding bird), an ultimate attack and a dash to dodge bullets. Enemies are numerous and powerful; they may not kill, but they can take out some of your limbs! A very original and pleasant mechanic, character upgrades are tied to limbs, and those can be torn off by foes and repaired at specific vending machines.
Levels are linear, but wide and encourage exploration to hunt for secrets and bonuses. There are a lot of wooden barriers and obstacles everywhere, but with most of the environment being destructible, it shouldn’t cause you a problem. I also respect the decision of making hand-crafted levels instead of taking the easy way out with randomly generated levels, that often are a mark of laziness (when poorly done). As a counterpart, I think that using fully designed levels participated in the game’s major flaw: It’s extremely short.
It took me a rough 3 hours to finish the game, and I was left with one thought: I want more. Tower 57 oozes with charisma, it is fun and memorable, but why did it have to be so short? On the other hand, it has solid replayability if you want to try out all characters, finish the hard mode or get the secret ending. It even features online and local co-op, so I would definitely recommend plowing through this game with a buddy of yours. It’s one of those games that you will enjoy best during one a couch gaming evenings with the lads. Kudos to the OST and sound design of the game, I loved the music, character voices and sound effects. In the end, I believe that the $12 price tag isn’t too much, especially if you take advantage of the couch co-op
As a final note, the game had harsh beginnings when it released. People described it as too easy, too short, and buggy. To be completely honest, even now I still encountered a game breaking bug that made me start over after around 30 minutes of playtime. But the developers, Pixwerk, have worked hard on fixes and content patches and their commitment to the game really shows. This is their first project and I have a huge soft spot for it, I sincerely hope that they continue working hard on it, and I sure as hell will be following them closely. This studio has the potential for greatness and with a higher budget and more experience, they could create the next big indie hit.