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Mar 11, 2014

TowerFall Ascension Review

A high level of polish, tight controls, and subtle complexity make Towerfall not only one of the most exceptional indie games in recent years, but one of the most purely entertaining games of the past few years, period.

There are not too many games being released these days that focus 100% on the fun, but that is exactly what Towerfall does. Within minutes of starting up the game, you and however many friends you’ve tricked into spending time with you, will be laughing and having a blast. There isn’t any need for a tutorial, not a single second is wasted on story, and the menus could be navigated by a five year old. As someone who will play an otherwise terrible game, simply for a good story, it may seem weird for me to be using the lack of story in Towerfall as a plus. The fact of the matter is though, that not all games need a story. Sometimes all a story does is waste your valuable time, and prevents you from jumping right into what it is you actually care about, the action.

If you are completely unfamiliar with Towerfall, it is an archery combat platformer that is heavily inspired by Super Smash Bros.
2 – 4 players will battle it out with a limited supply of arrows in a series of short rounds that will end when either all but one player has died, or the time has run out. Though firing your arrows will likely be your main form of attack, it is not your only option. Just like the classic platformers many of us love, you also have the oddly satisfying option of jumping on your opponents head. For your first handful of matches you may think that the combat is a simple matter of jump, shoot, and hide, but once you start to learn a few of the little trick that creator Matt Thorson has hidden in this little beauty, the whole dynamic of the matches will change. I’m hesitant to reveal these little tricks, as the discovery of them can be one of their most exciting aspects.

With 120 versus maps, spanning across many different environments, each with their own unique pick-ups, Towerfall is anything but light on local multiplayer content. With a large array of variances that can be switched on or off to add some extra diversity to your matches, there should be more than enough here to make Towerfall the center of attention at many game nights, or get-togethers to come.

When Towerfall was first released on the OUYA, if you were looking for a solid single player experience, you would have had to look elsewhere. Unless you are a hardcore time trial junkie, there wasn’t much there to warrant spending your alone time booting up Towerfall. Shooting at unmoving, non-hostile dummies, just wasn’t going to hold your attention for very long. Luckily for us all, Towerfall ascension has been upgraded to include a full Quest Mode that can be played either alone or with a friend. Each stage in Quest Mode will pit you against increasingly difficult waves of enemies. At first it will seem quite simple, and may lull you into a false sense of security. Don’t fall for it! Even the harmless seeming blobs will become a challenge when your attention has been pulled away by an archer or flying demon. Towerfall Ascension’s single player experience may not hold a candle to the fun that can be had in its multiplayer, but it’s a solid addition to the game and gives you a good reason to boot it up while the friends or family are away.

There is one omission from Towerfall that is hard to ignore. I can’t be the only one who finds it increasingly more difficult to gather 4 gamers in a room together. When I want to spend an evening trash talking and then failing miserably to live up to my trash talk, I generally need to do it online. Towerfall currently has zero online support and its creator has stated that he will not be adding any. However, before you start posting on Matt’s twitter demanding he add online support with threats of not buying his game without it, it’s important to understand why online support isn’t there. It may not seem like it when you’re playing Call of Duty or Starcraft online, but lag is always an issue. It is something that is always present, and must be accounted for in some way or another. In a game like Towerfall where every frame matters, none of the current methods of dealing with lag, such as prediction, will work.
Verdict: 90/100

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