Developer: ACE Team
Publisher: ATLUS USA
Review Context: The closest game that is similar to this that I’ve played is Bastion, along with Portal 2 for the commentary style. I have played previous games from ACE Team, like Rock of Ages and Abyss Odyssey.
Date of Playthrough: January 18, 2016
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i3 CPU 540 @ 3.07GHz
RAM: 8 GB
Video Card: GeForce GTX 950 2GB GDDR5 ACX 2.0 SC+
Disclosure: This review was based off of a review copy.
Have you ever wanted to watch and play a self-proclaimed B-movie? Look no further, The Deadly Tower of Monsters brings a B-movie right to your fingertips, while at the same time listening to DVD commentary given by the director for its upcoming DVD release from VHS.
The Deadly Tower of Monsters features Dick Starspeed, a space explorer who has found himself stranded on planet Gravoria with a busted spaceship and his friendly robot missing. Dick eventually meets Scarlet Nova, reunites with his missing robot, and together they all embark on a journey to try to ascend to the top of The Deadly Tower of Monsters, stop the evil Emperor, and save Gravoria from the Emperor’s tyranny.
Throughout your journey through The Deadly Tower of Monsters, you’ll be listening to DVD commentary from the director, Dan Smith. He will be giving you funny insight on why he made various decisions in the movie, like certain monsters, props, and even why he left certain things out of the movie. The commentary is funny and sarcastic, giving this a more upbeat feel, unlike a similar game called Bastion. The commentary style resembles a lot like Cave Johnson from Portal 2, so if you liked his commentary style, you’ll definitely enjoy this. There were a few lines in there that did in fact make me ‘lol,’ and I can tell you this doesn’t happen to me too often. You just have to expect a B-movie director justifying his decisions, for again, a B-movie.
The gameplay of The Deadly Tower of Monsters is also similar to Bastion, except with a better 3D experience and isometric view. As you ascend The Deadly Tower of Monsters with Dick Starspeed, Scarlet Nova, and the Robot, you’ll acquire various cool melee and range weapons that can be upgraded at least once with materials you find along your journey. These materials are cogs of different rarity that are sometimes hidden, which you will have to use the special powers for each character to acquire. There’s a such a variety in weapons that you will be scratching your head thinking, “How are all of these types of weapons in the same game?,” only to me reminded again, this a B-movie. Some of those weapons include a mace, whip, laser beam, ray gun, sword, and lightsaber. Without spoiling, some weapons that are upgraded turn into more interesting weapons. You’ll be upgrading character’s attributes (health, energy, etc.) with skill points, which are acquired by completing missions in your log. One negative for some potential players might be the lack of skill points respeccing, but on the other hand that probably adds more replayability.
As you’re ascending The Deadly Tower of Monsters, you’ll be allowed to switch between Dick, Scarlet, and Robot at specific stations to get through certain areas to advance the story, or to obtain one of those rare cogs for upgrades. It’s extremely important to note that all of the weapons and skill points are shared between them, so switching character’s only gives you benefit of the character specific super powers. For a large portion of the game the character choice will be completely up to you, with only certain areas calling for certain super powers to to force the character switch if you aren’t already using that character. All characters can glide and use jetpacks while falling off the tower to reach certain areas, which adds a completely awesome dimension and feel to the game.
As you make your ascension, you’ll be encountering many weird monsters, some of which use very cool stop motion animation to give it that retro feel of a a movie from the 1970’s, which this is. The most noticeable example would be the dinosaurs. Of course, what would a sci-fi B-movie be without apes in space! Every B-movie needs some crazy fight scenes, so you’ll be experiencing some very fun boss fights. One negative, if any, of The Deadly Tower of Monsters is the easy difficulty, which will allow you to plow through in one sitting (6-8 hours) if you’re dedicated. There are some places that require good dexterity and platforming to pass, especially near the end of the game, which gives it somewhat of a difficulty spike. However, given that The Deadly Tower of Monsters is a movie/commentary style game, I feel that can be forgiven. There is a map and a teleportation system, with checkpoints, which allows you to to travel up and down the tower as you please to explore. The checkpoints were, for the most part, well placed, but I felt the last quarter of the game had checkpoints placed in weird places causing unnecessary frustration.
The controls of the game were generally pretty good and tight, as I chose to use an Xbox 360 controller. The game’s controls menu actually has a split-screen for controller layout and keyboard layout, which is something that is not only rare to see in PC games, but a plus. One cool feature is as you’re climbing the tower you will face foes flying up that you’ll have to defeat by aiming down the tower with a reticle, which gives you a great perspective of just how high you are climbing. Graphically, the game is beautiful, and the cutscenes are good enough for a B-movie. One negative was that in certain cutscenes I noticed that a character I wasn’t using was in the cutscene instead of the one I was using. In the options menu, players have a choice to use a VHS look with scan lines, or the good quality DVD. I started with the VHS setting, but switched because I didn’t think it looked all that great (like rain), plus my PC didn’t react well to it.
The sounds in The Deadly Tower of Monsters are great, even if the music in the background starts to sound repetitive and annoying by the end, only to come to your senses and realize, “This is the perfect B-movie music!” Not only the music, but the sounds of the weapons and monsters help this game come to life with plenty of authenticity, Besides the commentary, all of the cutscenes are voice acted, most of which contain that stereotypical tone of voice, (I’m sorry I don’t know how to put that into words.)
The Deadly Tower of Monsters is certainly not perfect, but it accomplishes what it sets out to do in the context of what is presented; a DVD commentary over B-movie gameplay. Without spoiling, the ending has a great twist! The Deadly Tower of Monsters is an entertaining and rich experience, making this an early contender for my favorite game of 2016.
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