Listen, we all love sitting down to marathon gaming sessions where we save the planet or rescue the princess. That stuff is our bread and butter. However, sometimes you only have an hour or so to kill before you need to get back to the daily grind. Insert Tower of Guns, which bills itself as a “lunchbreak FPS,” and I can’t say I disagree. The roguelike FPS isn’t going to wow you with its story or amaze you with an immersive experience, but what it will do is offer you some fine twitch-shooting and a frantic game that can be won or lost in 40 minutes. It’s not trying to be anything more than what it is, but it manages to absolutely nail its formula.
Tower of Guns is a blisteringly fast FPS masquerading as a standard FPS. It starts off slow enough, but within a few areas you’ll be dodging bullets, rockets, giant spike balls, and all other assorted items that have the intention of removing your brain matter from the inside of your skull. Trying to soak in damage will do nothing but earn you a quick game over, so you’re going to have to rely on your old school twitch-shooting mechanics to stay afloat. Older gamers shouldn’t have much trouble adjusting back, but younger gamers who didn’t grow up with games like Quake or Unreal Tournament are going to have to learn to bunny hop and circle strafe in a hurry.
Killing an enemy causes it to explode into showers of loot. You’ll find health orbs, experience orbs that power up your weapon, some traditional powerups and a bit of gold. I quickly found myself dashing after any experience orb I found, namely because if you take damage you’ll not only lose health, but lose a bit of experience as well. When you’re in the heat of battle, having your weapon drop from level five to three without noticing may make the difference between victory or defeat.
The guns offer a decent bit of variety, but I really found myself wanting more. The standard pistol, machine gun and rocket launcher options all played out as you’d think, but didn’t do anything unique with their designs and, quite frankly, they’ve been done better. The more unique weapons were a real treat to use, though, offering a decent variety of ways to blow things to hell. I would have loved to have seen even more in Tower of Guns, but considering the game is attempting to be a quick romp through as opposed to something you sit down with for hours at a time, having a few balanced weapons is probably better than a plethora of options that don’t really offer much.
Tower of Guns wouldn’t be a good roguelike game without power-ups strewn across the landscape and once again, the standard “more damage” and “move faster” powerups are here, but they’re quickly overshadowed. The developer is either an absolute genius or has simply gone mad from sleep deprivation, because these things get out of hand quickly. Why simply fire sawblades when you can now fire proximity mine blades or a multi-barrelled machine gun that now fires rounds that bounce off walls? On top of that, there are some usable items that allow you to shoot faster, regain some health, or fill your screen with the heads of adorable kittens. I’m not sure what the latter is used for, honestly. I mean, all it ever really did was cause me to stop what I was doing and become quick and easy fodder for my enemies.
In the story mode you’ll have to climb through seven levels, all filled with a series of random rooms. The room layouts stayed the same, but every time I ran through them I found new things waiting to kill me in ways I wasn’t quite prepared for. Of course, having completely randomized rooms would have helped out the replay factor a bit, but considering how intricate these creations are, it’s simply unfair to judge the game based on that. Often, there will be some fairly technical platforming elements in play, paired with a myriad of secrets just waiting to be discovered. One particular room features jump boosts circling towards the ceiling, and trying to navigate my way to the top while not getting shot off by the rotating cannons hanging from the roof was one of the most intense shooting experiences I’ve had in a while.
The story is pretty much an afterthought here (highlighted by the option to turn it off completely), but it does inject a bit of humor into the game. You’ll be randomly assigned a story when you start your run, which means nothing more than having some silly dialogue at the top of your screen as you go through a few rooms. It’s completely tongue-in-cheek, and I often found myself wishing I had more time to take it in as opposed to running for my life. My first play through had me as a federal agent who just happens to be a basset hound trying to uncover the mystery of the tower. While my initial reaction was, “Playing as a dog equals a 6 out of 5 and game of the year,” the other stories were just as nonsensical. At one point, I was just a bro trying to find his bro so we could bro out. I was moved deeply.
Visually, Tower of Guns doesn’t look great should you be standing still or simply looking at screen shots. Everything is rendered in rather low resolution, but once the action kicks in it flows perfectly. There’s a certain level of grime that can’t be washed off the futuristic tech, and it really has fantastic aesthetics for a game that takes place in an abandoned tower.
This game is fantastic for a quick session here or there, but there’s not enough on the table to really keep you glued to your screen for hours at end. There isn’t enough variety to truly make every run feel completely unique. Had there been just a few more weapons and if gun mods were a bit more plentiful, this could have bridged that gap a bit better, but as it stands now it could be easy to burn out during long sessions.
Tower of Guns isn’t going to be the roguelike you stay up with all night, pounding soda and listening to Rush while you play, but it is one of the most perfect quick session games I’ve come across. If you just need to kill your lunch break (or have an hour to play before the kids are demanding your attention again), this may be your new go-to game.
This review is based on a Steam version of the game that was given to us for review purposes
Tower of Guns won’t keep you occupied for hours on end, but if you’re a gamer looking for a quick fix of intense action you’ll be hard pressed to find a better title.