When Deadly Tower of Monsters was announced, it had a lot going for it. There was plenty of charm, and even more b-movie references. As a film buff, I was excited to see what ACE Team could do with in their latest outing. After all, there’s so much you can do when you’re working with a classic science fiction style. Unfortunately, it takes more than charming humor to make a good game. To have a good game, you need to have good gameplay. While Deadly Tower of Monsters has a compelling setting, that’s about all it has going for it as the rest of the game is brought down by its many faults.
As soon as you start the game in Deadly Tower of Monsters, you’re greeted by the fictional director Dan Smith, who you might remember as being featured in promotional material for the game. He’s a fun-loving and charismatic director that’s inspired by directors of the time, and he frequently jokes about the nature of the game. In Deadly Tower of Monsters, you play the role of several characters as the director offers commentary on the “film”. Being inspired by b-movies, the game is of course self-aware.
Throughout most of your journey, the director pokes fun at his own film every now and then. That includes when you die. Every time you die, you’ll hear the director making wise cracks, and while it’s entertaining the first few times around — it starts to lose the entertainment value when you die a lot. Deadly Tower of Monsters isn’t a particularly difficult game, but there are a few segments every now and then that will make you feel otherwise. While the game offers quite a few radar dishes which serve as save points that can be used for teleportation, some segments aren’t so kind. This becomes a problem later on in the game, particularly for the last few boss fights.
Because the game and the fictional film it’s based on are focused around one Deadly Tower of Monsters — a title which becomes increasingly literal the higher you climb — the map is largely vertical. If there were a comparison to make for level design here, the map is something akin to Whomps’ Fortress in Super Mario 64. The game is a vertical 3D platformer through and through, and much like Super Mario 64, a large part of the frustration in making your way to the end of the level is due to poor camera angles. Unfortunately, unlike Super Mario 64, they didn’t include an option to look at your surroundings. You’re stuck with the same camera angle from beginning to end.
Even with such a poor camera, it’s not too difficult to navigate, but when you have enemies coming from every direction — including vertically, because yes, enemies come at you vertically over the side of the map — it can become rather troublesome to make some of the jumps. That’s part of the challenge when you’re dealing with an action platformer, but the combat in Deadly Tower of Monsters doesn’t excel, either.
There are a number of ways to deal with monsters as you proceed vertically through the map. You’ve got a number of abilities that will allow you to sprint, dash, or even slow down time. Some of these vary depending on what character you’re playing. Mr. Robot has the ability to slowdown time, Scarlet Nova has the ability to sprint through monsters and across conveyor belts, and Dick Starspeed has landmines. Of course, you’ve also got a plethora of normal weapons at your disposal, and slowly collect even more as you work your way up. The two main forms of combat in Deadly Tower of Monsters are melee and ranged.
There are a variety of weapons in each class, but they ultimately don’t feel that different. There are a number of similar weapons in the game. For example, a sword and a laser sword. Both weapons have nearly identical function, but one is actually lightsaber. That might be another joke in a long line of jokes, but it ultimately feels a bit cheap. For the most part, it doesn’t matter what weapon you use. During my playthrough, I tended to use whatever had the largest area of effect that had the most upgrades.
Along your quest to reach the top of the Deadly Tower of Monsters, you’ll come across a number of cogs. These are used to upgrade your weapons, but there’s a slight problem — only the blue cogs are dropped by enemies. This means that you can farm an infinite number of blue cogs, but you’ll never see the rest of the cogs unless you run around the world collecting them. Thankfully, I found enough to upgrade a couple of my weapons in a normal playthrough, but it makes it very difficult to upgrade your latest weapon. With how many weapons there are in the game, that becomes somewhat of a nuisance.
But just because the combat and the platforming aren’t that great doesn’t mean Deadly Tower of Monsters is a flop. If you like b-movies, then you’ll probably find a lot to love. After all, the game is nothing if not an homage to an age of classic, cheaply produced films, and that shows. ACE Team put a lot of heart and soul into the game, and while that might not be enough to save it in my eyes, I’m sure there are people out there who will gravitate toward the game because of the theme.
Ultimately, however, Deadly Tower of Monsters falls short. All the charm in the world couldn’t save the game from poorly executed mechanics. The story is rather short, clocking in between 3 and 4 hours, and the stationary camera combined with the level design can be pretty disorienting. It’s a clever and unique experience, but in my mind the cons outweigh the pros, and that’s a real shame. ACE Team could have done a lot better with the execution, but as it stands, I’d hesitate to recommend the game to anyone outside of the dedicated film buff.
Developer: ACE Team
Platform: PS4, PC
Release Date: 1/19/16
- A great riff on b-movies
- Dan Smith keeps things interesting
- Short story, clocking in between 3 and 4 hours
- Dull combat
- Poor camera angles and disorienting level design
Disclaimer: A copy of Deadly Tower of Monsters was provided to BentoByte by the publisher for the purpose of review.Tweet