The roguelike genre has been spreading through the videogame genres over recent years in everything from RPGs to platformers, but now we have one for the FPS genre too. And it's an absolute delight for anyone that remembers shooters before aiming down the sights was a thing.
The graphics-style may appear dated, but for the most part the controls are incredibly smooth and the twitch-handling is a fond throwback to older shooters; the responsive controls are fantastically fluid as you strafe enemies or nip between the hail of slow but thick storms of enemy fire. It has to be said though, there's some awful slowdown in the larger rooms when they try to pack in too many enemies at once. It's not a regular thing though.
Tower Of Guns' premise is simple; you must fight your way through the eponymous Tower of Guns with one life to make it through multiple procedurally generated (random) rooms. That's right, one life. You begin with a truly awful pistol too; even the game mocks its firepower. Enemies are all mechanical and often canon-based. So expect rows of turrets, floating tanks, flying mines, buzz saw turrets and the like.
If I'm honest, enemy variation isn't great and the small number of bosses repeat and grate very soon. But this really isn't the sort of game you're meant to play for hours on end. It's a fun shooter to play when you have an hour or so to kill. Although, some runs will certainly end sooner if you don't keep an eye on that health bar.
Chances are you're not going to finish the game's randomly generated story in your first few attempts. You will slowly unlock better guns to start a fresh run with though. These might be for dying a certain number of times, blowing up 20 tanks and so on. Each blanked-out weapon's unlock criteria is stated too.
You'll have to push on through the crap weapons for a while, including that pistol, a slow buzz saw launcher, rockets and so on. But then something wonderful happens, you unlock the rapid-fire laser gun and life becomes much easier.
Weapons themselves level up over the course of a run by picking up blue chips dropped by enemies. Increased levels mean extra damage, bigger bullets and faster rates-of-fire. However, take damage and you risk their level being downgraded as well as your health bar taking a beating. You can level it up again, but when you die, it'll be reset to zero every time.
While you can only choose one weapon to start with, more pop up occasionally to be bought from pods (for the rest of the run) if you've picked up enough coins. Some of these are fantastic when levelled up, such as the pea gun which fires a slow, pulsing shot that becomes outrageously wide when levelled up. So much so you have to get out of its way as soon as you fire it. You can still swap back and forth with your default weapon at any time too when you pick up new ones.
There are also powerups to find like extra speed, increased armour, or even extra difficulty (no thanks). Rechargeable abilities include a protective barrier around you, huge rockets that deal massive damage but fly incredibly slowly, aerial fire barriers and more. In addition to choosing a gun at the start of a run, there's a list of perks to choose too. Initially, you'll get to equip ones like no fall damage or triple jump. But later on you'll unlock really helpful boosts like extra armour and faster levelling for your weapon.
The story runs can be finished in under an hour and there are Endless modes to keep you going as long as your twitch shooter skills will carry you and that's about it for Tower of Guns. At £11.59 there's only so much replay value to be had as rooms and enemies repeat often, although enemy type/placement is always different. But it's certainly worth a look straight away if you're on PlayStation + as it's currently going for free.
- Retro FPS stylings
- A solid attempt at merging the roguelike with the FPS
- Some great weapons
- Early weapons are pants
- Frame-rate cripples the game occasionally
- Not much genuine variety
The Short Version: Fans of old school shooters will enjoy Tower of Guns for its classic approach to firing from the hip and strafing through borderline bullet hell stages. The randomly generated rooms and enemies repeat themselves sooner than we'd like and the frame-rate goes to hell in the really busy rooms. There are some tasty guns to be found though and it's a lot of fun in small bursts.
7 - GOOD: Some sites seem to think that the halfway point between 1-10 is 7. This is not the case. It should be noted that 7 is not just a perfectly respectable score, it's a good score. A 7 is not an indication of failure, nor is it the mark of a bad, poor or even average game. These are titles that can be considered very worthwhile, but maybe come with a caveat. Frequently the domain of the well-made-if-rather-conventional brigade.
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed) | PS3 | Xbox One | PC
Developer: Terrible Posture Games
Publisher: Grip Games