I’m on the third stage of the tower. I barely escaped the last room I was in. I was ready for the cannons, but not for the countless number of bombs that dropped once I got in the middle of the room. When I step into the next room I can only see about 20 feet ahead of me, and then it’s all black from there. I hear the sound of cannon fire in the distance, but I don’t see anything. It didn’t sound like that many cannons, though. About five seconds after I heard the shot, I see the most bullets I have ever seen in a game coming right at me from out of the darkness… 20 feet away. For the first time in my life, I froze while playing a video game. Then I died. That was my first play-through of Tower of Guns.
Tower of Guns is a rougelike FPS where winning relies heavily on player skill. What’s your goal of Tower of Guns? To the best of my knowledge it’s to get to the top of the tower, but since I have yet to do so, I can’t say for sure. This isn’t a game that you just continue to chip away at until you beat it. Tower of Guns demands that players use their skills to make it through each stage. Those skills don’t necessarily have to be great FPS skills like accuracy or movement prediction; You could just be really skilled at not getting shot and have a chance at making it to the end of the tower. Anyway you decide to play it, it’s not going to be easy.
The main reason Tower of Guns is not easy is from forcing players to adapt to randomization. Everything is random: enemies, levels, loot, and bosses. You could go into the same room during two different play-throughs and have two different enemy configurations to deal with. You can pick the same weapon over and over, but due to the random power-ups and modifications you receive you may have an easy time getting through a certain stage one time, and the next time it could be crushing.
Power-ups come in the form of getting more health, being able to jump more than once (I’m talking like five or six times), moving faster, jumping farther, etc. Modifications affect the weapon properties you have, so you could end up with a crazy combination like a fully automatic gun that shoots saw blades. You’ll also come across “Items” which are deployable, and the range of ability with items is WIDE. I had one item that shot out a slew of grenades, another item that deployed one big bomb, another that killed all of a certain type of enemy, and another that made my character jump in place for a set amount of time. I’ve been playing for quite a while and have come into contact with many power-ups, modifications, and items, and I still come across new ones every time I play.
You get loot by killing enemies, and if you pay attention you’ll notice that some drop more than others. Loot can drop items, mods, and power-ups, but most of the time it drops health and weapon experience. Your weapon can level up each play-through with a max level of five. Each level makes your weapon more dangerous — whether it makes the weapon faster, stronger, cover a wider range, or maybe even bounce off of walls. As you collect the blue orbs you’ll notice your weapon experience meter filling, and every time it fills your weapon levels up. The catch is that every time an enemy hits you your weapon experience decreases — so if you’re not careful you can find yourself with an underpowered weapon at a bad time.
Speaking of weapons, you have access to quite a few. Your default weapons are some type of pulse pistol and a gun that shoots saw blades. You don’t unlock other weapons by gaining experience or some type of currency — new weapons are obtained by completing certain tasks. For example, to get the fully automatic pulse weapon you need to complete a stage in under the par time. Other unlocks will have you doing things like destroying one type of enemy a certain amount of times, dying a certain amount of times, or finding a certain amount of secret areas during a play-through. There are ten guns total, but thanks to the modifications, the gun you walk into the tower with may behave drastically different when you walk out. If you walk out.
At the beginning of each run you also get to select a perk. Perks are things like taking no falling damage, being able to triple jump from the start of the game, not being able to damage yourself, etc. Perks, like weapons, are also unlocked by completing certain tasks. Also like weapons, the power-ups you get can greatly change your experience. For instance, there is one power-up that extends how far you jump. Imagine owning that while having the triple jump perk enabled on top of picking up other power-ups that also increase the amount of times you can jump.
Thanks to the way the game is designed, each play-through can be a different experience. Sometimes I can make it through the first few stages with no trouble – others I might have trouble getting past the second. The randomized bosses and their arenas also play a big role in whether or not you’ll be making it to the next stage. The bosses don’t get harder as you go up the tower; you could end up getting a very hard boss on the first stage. Some bosses are definitely easier than others — every time I got this one boss that just jumped around and tossed bombs out at random, I knew I would be able to get past with no problem. There are other bosses that made me sweat a bit, though, like one that shot a lot of bullets out at high speed. He was a problem to deal with on his own, but dealing with his minions made it even worse.
I felt Tower of Guns was a solid game that should appeal to FPS fans that enjoy a challenge. One of the best features of this game is that IF you can finish it, it can be done within an hour; so this game doesn’t become a time sink. I’ve used it a few times as a nice break between doing some work. I liked Tower of Guns quite a bit, and think other FPS fans will too. Just remember, the game is about skill and adaptation. Try not to die too much.