Relinquishing Control: TowerFall; Ascension denied

Relinquishing Control: Reviewing games, cooperatively.


This is, without a doubt, one of the greatest multiplayer games of all time.


The original TowerFall was created by Matt Thornson of Matt Makes Games in 2013. Originally released solely for the ill-fated Ouya console, which you may or may not have heard of. Regardless of its small beginnings, it was massively successful and eventually re-released as TowerFall Ascension on a much wider number of consoles. The storyline roughly boils down to “There are monsters attacking TowerFall! Stop them!” and that’s really all you need. With this alone you will become heavily invested in your battle against the demonic foes at your doorstep.


The precision of this game is unparalleled in anything I’ve played before. For what it lacks in complexity it makes up for in room for skill progression. Even once you feel you have mastered the basic controls you will never stop feeling like you’ve still got a long way to go. If you’re used to games these will take a couple of seconds to pick up, (moving, jumping and firing arrows), but if you’re less experienced you may need a little patience from your gaming partner and some non-hostile vs games. Lollie’s seven-year-old daughter has already completed the first level on her own and I only had to let her shoot me about 20 times! Once you’ve gotten to grips with the controls you’ll need to deal with mechanics such as the dodge (vital if you’re going to survive long), and the wall jump.


In addition to this, the stage structure can take some getting used to. In TowerFall, you’re given your (mostly) unchanging 2D level, but if you fall through the edges of the screen, you come out the other side. Initially, this will result in an awful lot of “Where am I! Am I dead? Oh, now I’m dead”. In time, it starts to make sense and is a huge amount of fun. The satisfaction you feel when launching an arrow up through the top of the screen to kill and enemy sneaking around at the bottom is unrivalled.


For those who want to reach the pinnacle of TowerFall prowess there are skills such as super-jumping and dodge-cancelling to wrap your heads around, among others. Most likely, you will still be mastering these skills well after you’ve finished the story-mode on normal difficulty. Personally, I still can’t do them in a way that’s at all helpful and I’m close to polishing off the last of the hardcore levels. Lollie, however, has become quite adept at super-jumping her way across the stage, and making me look like a chump!


towerfall review


TowerFall is split into three areas: versus, co-op, and trials.


As high-octane multiplayer battles go, these top the charts. This is not something we often play at home (because I’d wreck Lollie) but with more evenly matched group it’s great. Two-player is fun, four-player is insane, heart racing stuff with shouting and smack-talk a-plenty. With TowerFall our problem (stated in the intro) is beautifully addressed with the co-op; providing ample opportunity for improvement whilst continuing to challenge both parties. I used to wipe out most of the enemies fairly quickly, but this is fast becoming more evenly matched with teamwork now being a vital element. As you progress you unlock new levels and fight your way through ever more challenging enemies. The difficulty curve is beautifully balanced and there is a constant sense of achievement as you edge ever closer to clearing out the final round of the later levels. Once normal mode is under your belt, hardcore and legendary quickly follow and will push you to your limits. Finally, for the fans of time-trials or those looking to hone their skills you can attempt the trials - unique levels where you’re tasked with offing various dummies before the time runs out.


towerfall review


There are eight beautifully designed archers to choose from, four to start and four that must be unlocked in various ways. It’s worth picking a colour and sticking to it as you stats are tracked throughout the various modes. Some character may prove more challenging for newcomers as they blend more easily into the background, or in the case of Vicious Vessel (purple) look exactly the same as the enemies. The general art style is similarly as gorgeous with a fine attention to detail: your characters hats can both be shot off in a close shave and picked up from the floor. I love it!


A game well worth your time and for those with a real interest there is an expansion filled with epic bosses and four-player co-op.


Lollie and Rory put their relationships on the line to bring you the best in couch co-op. Rory has been gaming since he was a babe, and Lollie, until recently, has never seen the value in them. With players as unevenly matched as this, games can become a chore. We’re here to pick out the gooduns and argue over the baduns, so you don’t have to.

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