by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Tower 57 is a game I didn’t know I wanted until I saw and played it. It’s a twin-stick game with a style of pixel graphics, very much in the same style as the early AMIGA games. It feels like a tribute to Chaos Engine, with brighter colors. It’s gorgeous, and the gameplay itself is incredibly solid. The story is definitely interesting, in that it’s a dystopian, depressing future, but it’s done in a satirical, entertaining way. You learn about the story through a series of interactive objects in the world: Corpses, flyers, et cetera. You click on them, and you get a bit of a blurb that honestly, every time I read one, I’d at least chuckle, if not snort. The world is a huge series of towers now, and mysterious figures somewhere at the top of the food chain are doing some pretty shady stuff, and it’s up to your crew of badasses to step up to the plate and stop them; preferably through violence. There are six characters, and you pick up to three of them. This made me think that it would be some kind of Roguelite, where the world was procedurally generated, but this is not the case.
As I said, you have six characters to pick from: The Don, The Scientist, The Officer, The Beggar, The Diplomat (Lincoln!?) and The Spy. You can see what their weapon and their tool is, but you can’t “read” what they do. If you wait, you can see a brief video of what they can do, their special ability, but this is not enough for me. I need to know what they do so I figure out what group to bring. You also can’t change the team without starting over, at least that I’ve seen. This is where the game has a lot of replayability. The game itself isn’t incredibly long, but each character has their own paths they can take using their skills/abilities, so there’s that at least. There are characters I enjoy more than others like Scientist for the Laser/Lightning Gun, The Officer with the Spreadshot but everyone is useful for something. And each of these characters has a main gun with infinite ammo, a secondary (better) gun with limited ammo (there are ammo drops you can find in boxes, etc), a cool dash, and a skill/tool, like a Claw to grapple. The combat’s very simple. It’s a twin stick, so one stick aims, the other moves, you have a few buttons that shoot, swap guns, dash, et cetera. It’s standard fare, not hard to comprehend, and the aim was pretty good. I find myself using the limited shot weapons more, because ammo was not hard to come by.
Now I enjoy this game, but the game felt pretty difficult at first. The damage you initially take is pretty high, and if you get swarmed under by a group of enemies that explode, or shoot spikes, or summon things, you can lose all three of your characters pretty damn fast and have to start from the last checkpoint. In Tower 57, you can also lose limbs, such as arms and legs. There’s a tutorial for that in-game to show you that it can definitely and will definitely happen. This is when I found the use of the all the currency that exploded out of each enemy that I came across was coming across was for: The ARMS machine. Hah. I get it. You can repair your limbs that are eaten, that get exploded, what have you, but you can also improve them! You can replace them with cybernetics, a’la Shadowrun. You can, if you want, spend a time in the very first stage it’s offered, running around, killing enemies and breaking boxes to cap the character you’re using. This will make the game incredibly easy because this does give you stat boosts. Even without this, the game is unfortunately pretty easy even alone, in Normal difficulty. It won’t take you long to get through it, but it is still quite a fun romp, for me at least. The major downside for me was that I could not find people online to play with, so 100% of my gametime was alone. And that’s fine! I don’t mind single player games, and this one wasn’t made harder for having to do it solo.
“Fun” is a Buzzword: 4/5
But is this really such a bad thing? There are already games that are insanely challenging, and if that’s your cup of tea, they’re really quite easy to find. Oh come on, I thought that was clever. Anyway, this does feel like older games, minus the horrific challenge. The game’s short, but you know what? It’s still fun! Isn’t that the point of a game, to enjoy your time playing it? I think so, anyway. Visually it’s wonderful, it has a lot of options and different ways to play. Sure, you can beat it in a few hours. Then you can try again with other characters, doing different things! Sure, you’ll probably just win again, but as long as you’re having fun, that’s the key. I feel like you as the player will certianly get your money’s worth out of Tower 57. But while it is fun, you can make the game too easy if you want, and I do feel like they missed the boat with this “three characters” thing. Instead of treating it like having lives, why not have two or three characters out at once, or cycle through them as the player needs? I just feel like something is missing. If there is a way to do it, I haven’t seen it. Tower 57 has the feel and look of an early AMIGA/Arcade games of old which is lovely. It made me feel like I was playing Smash TV, or any of those style of games of my youth. I’ve heard there have been updates to the game, but I have not seen them, but I’d like to see them for myself. I hope more stages, more things to do will come to the game, which is the beauty of online gaming. As a kid, you’d be stuck with this, but now? The sky is the limit! The game is fun. It’s not the best title I’ve played on Steam, but it was sincere, honest fun.
Note: A game key was provided for review purposes.