If you were alive back in the "˜60s and "˜70s, you probably remember all of those "so bad they're good" sci-fi classics from the era. You know, the ones that featured outlandish plots mixed with absurd acting, tied together with some downright outdated and awful stop motion-influenced special effects. They were train wrecks to some degree, but there was something about them that made them endearing to people and a centerpiece of the era. And who could forget the awesome director's audio commentary explaining what went into the film.
ACE Team and Atlus's latest title, The Deadly Tower of Monsters, is a game cut from that very same cloth. The game centers around characters Dick Starspeed, Scarlet, and the Robot (yes, that's its name) as they try to free the apes on the planet Gravoria from Scarlet's father. In true B-movie fashion he's an evil emperor who has enslaved the apes for their gold, but instead of forcing the apes into slave labor to mine the gold from the planet, it's the apes themselves that turn into gold when they die. But since this is a game, Scarlet's teleporter has been conveniently disabled due to her betraying her father, so they have to ascend the massive tower and clear out the monsters they come across along the way while doing so.
One thing players will notice right off the bat when the game initially loads is the absurd "DVD"-style commentary ACE Team included to cement that B-movie feeling they were going for. The director of the "movie" you're playing through commentates on your actions as you play through the game. If you've played Bastion, you'll have an idea of the mechanic at play here, although ACE Team's implementation is a tad bit more fourth-wall breaking in its application.
I had moments when the game mocked gameplay elements such as useful items hidden away in places I wasn't expecting, or why all three of the characters couldn't be on screen at one time. There was also a particular scene I found amusing where the female lead rescues the male lead, and the director goes ahead and pats himself on the back for being "ahead of his time" for including it in the movie. Thankfully the developers had enough restraint to sprinkle these moments carefully throughout the game, so I never felt like any one moment was too forced in its application.
As far as gameplay goes, the core is centered around action gameplay with an isometric viewpoint, using twin-stick shooting and melee attacks for your offense. You can charge up your melee attacks, as well as roll or hover via a jetpack to perform a double-jump. Each character has their own special abilities which you'll need to gain access to different parts of the floors (more on this later), which can be freely switch between via glass domes that can be found on the floors.
Of course, since this is a "deadly" tower full of monsters, you'll need some monsters to beat up on. ACE Team pretty much included the gauntlet of stereotypical B-movie monsters here, so if you can think of it, they likely included it in this game. You got your ants, apes, robot monsters, a King Kong-look-alike, robots that look like they're made out of cardboard boxes, humanoid flies, and that's just naming off a few. One thing I did especially like is that the developers included small health bars above each enemy, so you have a general idea of how much damage you need to deal to them to finish them off or if you need to switch things up if your current attacks are proving ineffective.
Playing into the tower theme, The Deadly Tower of Monsters works its tower into the gameplay mechanics in a way I wasn't expecting outside of the normal checkpoint-based system. As you scale the tower, you'll activate said checkpoints which you can warp between at any time. But where the game has fun with the tower theme is the ability to jump off the tower at any point and freefall downward, with the ability to shoot at objects as you fall down to collect them. Some bosses also incorporate said mechanic as well. And if you want to go back, just press a single button and you can warp back to the point where you fell.
However, even with all of the B-movie inspired goodness involved here, there's some negatives potential buyers should be aware of. Based on my playthrough, most players likely will average anywhere between 3-5 hours if they're trying specifically to search for hidden items outside of their general grasp. I also encountered occasional pacing issues, where the game generally had the right amount of challenge but occasionally ventured into the too easy or too overly difficult territory.
Overall, though, The Deadly Tower of Monsters is easily one of the better titles I've seen from developer ACE Team in recent memory. It's not perfect, but like the B-movies it gleams inspiration from, the good aspects easily outweigh the negatives.
|If you're a fan of those classic '60s and '70s sci-fi B-movies, you'll feel right at home with this game.|
|The "DVD"-style commentary by the in-movie director is downright hilarious at times and is one of the real highlights of the game.|
|The freefall mechanic really lets the player openly explore the tower, with the ability to warp back if necessary quickly.|
|Length might be short for those who don't want to track down all of the hidden collectibles strewn throughout the tower.|
|There's occasional pacing issues, where the game either feels too easy or too difficult.|
|I didn't see any hint of a NG+ type mode, so once you've unlocked everything in the first run, that appears to be it.|