Tower of Guns was developed by Grip Games and Terrible Posture Games and published by Grip Games on Xbox One. It was released on April 9, 2015 for $14.99. A copy was provided by Grip Games for review purposes.
Tower of Guns is another in a series of recent roguelike games to reach the Xbox One via the ID@Xbox program. At first glance, it's is a throwback to old school first-person shooters in both design and gameplay. While unexciting to start with, Tower of Guns grows on the player with the strange charm of its story mode and the straightforwardness of its objective. After that, it will make you rage. Roguelike games tend to spawn enemy and room patterns that will eventually kill the player in brutal manners. In some games, defeat can be deflating and cause the player to not want to play again. Meanwhile, Tower of Guns is a fantastic game for players who refuse to lose and find motivation in trying until they win. Even if you lose, progress is made toward unlocking new guns and new perks to use for future attempts to finally beat the tower. It's a win/win for all (not a guarantee). So what do I like about the title? Take a look below.
Here's what I liked:
Short on time? — So am I. Thankfully, story mode is easy to pick up and play, with average play times of anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour. I imagine a speed run of would last 20 minutes or less. With five stages (there is a not-so-hidden optional sixth stage featuring the true last boss and occasional bonus stages may appear), the action is fast and furious with lots of enemies and plenty of projectiles flying all over the place. Defeating enemies is not mandatory to progress from room to room, but defeated enemies will oftentimes drop useful powerups (perks/badges, wepaon upgrades, etc.). For those who want a longer experience, an endless mode exists to test your might.
Choose a perk, you know you want to — Chosen at the equipment select screen before starting the game, perks can significantly change your experience. They work almost like a difficulty modifier; in fact, some perks are designed to modify difficulty. Some give you an early head start toward unlocking the triple jump or extra health, while others can't be found in-game, like no fall damage or being able to upgrade your gun to level 6. However, you can only choose one perk, so choose wisely. Your in-game life will depend on it.
TooYoungToDie perk — I want to give special recognition to this perk for making the game more accessible to a wider audience of players. Normal game conditions can be quite brutal to new players, but this perk makes up for it. TooYoungToDie lowers difficulty and ups damage, armor, loot and experience . There's no real catch; it's just an easier time for those who want one. The side effect is that you only start with one jump, but that's a fair tradeoff. As much as this screams "easy," the game can still be challenging at times, and it can be just as easy to die from being careless. This perk is beginner-friendly but not failure proof. For those who want a more difficult challenge, there's the Nightmare perk, which ramps up the difficulty, speed and all set to the more difficult champion class. Good luck with that.
Why can I walk behind this wall? — Players who like to explore will be greatly rewarded in Tower of Guns. Through carefully placed jumps, good observation or even sheer dumb luck, players can find secret areas that can do small things like reward money, badges, weapons or humorous events. You might be wondering, "But isn't this a roguelike?" The room layout on each floor changes on each playthrough, and you won't see them every time you play, but the room designs stay the same. Rest assured that even master detectives will have a hard time finding 100 percent of the secrets on every floor.
Here's what I didn't like:
Clipping issues — Players must walk through walls to discover secrets, but things sometimes get awkward when you see through ones that don't have secrets behind them. Other times, you can get stuck in strange places or end up going places you weren't meant to go. The developer actually makes a fourth-wall-breaking joke that specifically talks about clipping issues if you go too far off the designated path in one room. Luckily, you can tilt by pressing and holding Y for some time — which just resets you to the entrance of the room you're in — to escape getting stuck.
Too reliant on jumps — A lot of the fun and exciting secrets require multiple jumps to reach them. Some of the regular platforms are also just out of range unless you have more than one jump or find extra jump height. Having one jump makes the player feel grounded and restricted in what happens in-game. Hope for some luck to find extra jumps or it'll be a slow-paced restrictive run.
Enemy types — In Tower of Guns, your opponents are a lot of cannons and turrets. That may deliver what the title promises, but it's bland. It's less of an enemy and more like an obstacle to bypass. Do I really want to hunt down every turret and cannon in each room? Not particularly. There could have been more variety here. The game also features something called "hugbots," which look like robotic pets but are friendly bystanders that can be shot or spared. Some giant-sized vicious versions of them would have spiced things up a bit, and more enemy varieties would have made the game more interesting. Even if Grip and Terrible Posture had stuck with the turrets and cannons theme, a few nice moving humanoid/bipedal/tripedal/multipedal robotic turrets would have been nice.
Tower of Guns is a fun but short roguelike game for first-person shooter fans. But is it for everyone? It's tough to recommend it on the spot at $14.99, and it really depends on the person whether it's a fair value or not. If you're someone who "finishes a game" once or twice before calling it quits, this game is not for you. If you're a gamer who likes testing your luck through a variety of random settings, though, Tower of Guns might be worth your time. It's great to pick up and play, but I can't vouch for its staying power.
Score: Try It
Achievement Notes: Achievement fans will be happy to know that Achievements are easy while using the perk TooYoungToDie, but without it your adventure might be somewhat testing. Most Achievements are typical progression-based ones or are easy to go for if you know they exist. One warning, though: two Achievements appear to be glitched as of this time. The developers know of the issue, but it is uncertain if it will be fixed.