+Characters are creatively introduced through uses of B-Movie story telling
+Gameplay transitions well as a twin-stick beat ’em up style game
+Use of 1970’s like animations brings the game truly to life
–Infrequent frame-rate drops
–Difficulty in finding mission objectives from time to time
Ever had that moment where you find yourself digging deep through the list of B-Movies on Netflix or Amazon Prime and just happen to come across those films that you’ve never heard of? You’ve probably even clicked play on one of those movies wondering just how horrendous it could be or even how surprisingly good it could be. Queue SyFy Channel for that tidbit. Well this one isn’t going to require you to wonder over towards Netflix, SyFy Channel or even Amazon Prime for that matter. Instead you’ll find yourself digging through Steam or the PlayStation Store on PlayStation 4 in order to play this rather silly game. Silly here actually is quite a good thing.
You may know some of the movies that inspired this game were B-Movies that existed for pure entertainment purposes. Many of those movies became cult classics. The game is a quintessential piece to gaming as it dismisses the idea of a serious narrative to fulfill it’s need as a game that’s actually a movie that you are playing. Were you able to follow that? Good. If you were ever able to watch B-Movies such as Buck Rogers, Battlestar Galactica, V, or even shows such as the original Star Trek you know the shows were great, the movies that came from them were great, but they weren’t high budget. That’s actually the case with The Deadly Tower of Monsters that came out of the publisher ATLUS by game developer ACE Team who has managed to bring forth a very creative title.
The opening seconds of the game is quite entertaining as we are introduced to the game as a “DVD” that has been created in order to bring on some rather goofy “DVD” audio commentary. This opening second as the game is introduced is amazingly creative as this bit of detail seems to not just flow through the menus as the “movie director” you are playing as will be narrating the whole game. If you’ve played games like Nihilumbra, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Bastion – you know what you are getting into. As the game gets underway you learn the wacky tactics that the director used, his tips, his tricks, and even how he got the actors as well as the supporting cast to do what they did.
The silly audio “DVD” commentary right from the start helps cement that B-movie feel Deadly is going for. Permeating through the menus, the “director” of the “movie” you’re playing will continue to comment on your actions throughout, much like the narrator from Bastion. This narration however is a bit wackier, and will make fun of everything from gamey elements like finding useful items instantly in unexpected places, why items disappear after you pick them up (the hero “beams” them back to his ship), and how the actors got into a particular costume. He even boasts in one early scene that having his female lead rescue his male lead is progressive, and how he was “ahead of his time” for it. It’s amusing enough to keep one interested throughout. This includes things such as how the main character, Dick Starspeed, had his weapons teleported back to his crashed ship for storage. This includes the fact eventually even Scarlet Nova and Robot are utilizing the same weaponry, but not the same ship? It’s all interesting, but it is a unique twist of things, especially since each character has unique abilities that can be creatively used to create an advantage on the “set”. A nice aesthetic to be quite honest, and even a good one.
What makes this game unique in the top down world that is dominated by games such as Diablo, Sacred, and titles much like them, is the fact that The Deadly Tower of Monsters implores the use of a Deadly Tower. The towers settings, enemies, and tone change drastically as the “director” of the “movie” begin to take the character across this planet. Inhabited by Ape-esque money men, interesting “Energy Imps,” a Ghost Pirate ship, Dinosaurs, and so much more, the game takes the idea of using many, many, classic cult B-Movies to establish itself. While climbing this tower the game is based around, players will find themselves going across multiple checkpoints while sometimes dropping off the top of the tower to uncover secrets stashed across the games world. From there players will find themselves using the games teleported to get back to where they were or using a “teleport” option to return from the ledge from whence they fell from.
But what makes this game great isn’t the fact it literally utilizes classic Sci-Fi movie ideas, but the fact it also has some of the best camera work I’ve seen in a game. Giving the idea that this game is a “movie” players can go into the games option menus and mess around with two of my favourite settings. One is changing the game from the upscaled “DVD” quality to the games horrendously (but great) “VHS” setting, which adds true VHS like camera appearance. Remember watching movies on the old tube and on VHS and getting that fuzzy appearance on the screen? There’s your “VHS” setting. Let alone does the game appeal to this by using it as the default viewing, the game also utilizes a few things that some movies back then would have hit. “Budgetary reasoning”, which “forced the director” to stop using colour for a matter of a few moments, but also the fact that the use of wires actually appears on some of the enemies. Let alone did ACE Team choose to have that in the game, they also managed to pull all the stops in this as many of the enemies in the game use stop motion while some of the scenery looks like plastic set pieces. While many would think that frame rates have gone to Hell when enemies use that appearance, it’s actually part of the game, and the creative minds over at ACE team didn’t just stop there as the game does continue on with these type things.
The thing that makes this game not just unique, but fun is quite simple, it’s the fact that let alone does the game have free-falling moments to get to places like the aforementioned Ghost Ship, it also allows players to find secret items that will require them to descend this tower. Ever wondered how much of a rush you’d get when falling down a gigantic tower and boosting at the last second to not die? This game will over just that while you try to collect rings, reach unreachable places before hand, but also the ability to revisit places just for the sake of revisiting them. Didn’t mean to fall? There was an “Air Teleport” option that allows you to return to the point where you fell from. Just note that if in a fight? Enemies will be waiting to knock you off once more whether you want them to or not.
The question at hand though is going to be simple aside from the fact that controls are easy to master, but so are the few little puzzles in the game. How long is play time? In order to beat the game on my first play through, the game got the praise it deserved, but it took me somewhere around three and a half hours to get to the end of the game with almost all secrets unlocked and all weapons upgraded. While the game doesn’t have an option for New Game+, which would be enjoyable, or a way to increase difficulties; The Deadly Tower of Monsters is a game that can easily be enjoyed a second time through. While it is fun to jump off that giant tower from just outside the planets upper hemisphere never gets old, the question of future content can be troubling especially at 14.99 USD or 33% off during the games launch week for those who are looking to buy it.
The Deadly Tower of Monsters –PC, PS4 (Reviewed)
Developer: ACE Team
Cost: 14.99 USD
Release Date: Now Available
Despite all my praise though, you should know what you’re getting into. My first playthrough only took me roughly three hours to complete, and I managed to spend an extra hour looking for artifacts and completing additional objectives. There doesn’t seem to be any option for a New Game+ or the ability to alter the difficulty, which definitely stings a bit despite its strong initial run. I can definitely see replaying it every so often however, and jumping off of the top of the tower is something I did many, many times. While the diversity of skills, stats, and abilities from varying titles like Diablo would have been fun to have, the game finds itself as a action title that is enjoyable, fun, and addictive in its short campaign. If being quirky, unique, enjoyable and an unforgettable “B-Movie” experience is what this game was meant to be, it did it perfectly and is one that fans of B-Movies should not pass down despite how it looks. I know I enjoyed it and would have loved to seen a movie based off it.
Our review is based upon the final version that the publisher provided us with. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter, Google+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.