Review: The Deadly Tower of Monsters
Many games today feel like you’re actually playing a movie. Well, The Deadly Tower of Monsters isn’t necessarily what you think when you are playing a movie. The Deadly Tower of Monsters, a fictional old classic “film” is getting re-released onto DVD from its VHS original, and Director Dan Smith is lending his voice with some audio commentary. As you progress you’ll hear the Director narrate the scenes that are going on, and he offers witty comments about the actors, props, settings and more. Three heroes must climb the Deadly Tower of Monsters and overthrow an evil emperor who is enslaving all of the inhabitants on the island. It’s a classic B-Movie with the writing and characters to show for it, and it is absolutely worth checking out.
The Deadly Tower of Monsters is massive tower in the sky that is home to an evil emperor. To overthrow him, our main hero, Dick Starspeed, and his fellow companions, must climb the tower to put an end to his evil schemes. While trying to complete this task, the Director of the original film will add commentary to the events on screen. The Director’s commentary can at times be topical to what is happening on screen, or he can start talking about how he wants to take a break. The main overall story of the “film” isn’t super intriguing, but an unexpected ending makes up for it. With the Director’s commentary, the fourth wall is broken constantly. The screen will change from color to black and white, and sometimes the screen is just frozen while the Director tries to fix the problem. With the cast of weird characters, comes some weird enemies.
You’ll fight other apes, men in lizard suits, bats on strings, and even stop-motion, plastic dinosaurs. Boss fights are strewn around the tower. Some act as almost mini-bosses, while others take up the majority of the screen and are memorable encounters. Just when you think the director is done talking, he just keeps going. I was never turned off by the director talking, as I always wanted to hear more. The world that is built is something I’ve never seen in a game before, and it made me want to return to the game after I completed it.
Gameplay is solid. It’s a third-person action game with melee weapons, blasters and special abilities. There are a good range of melee weapons and blasters, that can both be upgraded using various cogs and gold hidden throughout the world. Some weapons are knives, swords and whips, while blasters range from a shot of a bolt of lightning to flamethrowers. Every weapon has a unique look and function, and upgrading the weapons changes both of these features. Each character has a few unique abilities, but there are several overall. Dick can place land mines, while another companion, Scarlet Nova, can run at fast speeds. Characters can be switched out at any time at sleep chambers, and specific characters are needed to find hidden collectibles or progress through the tower. Upgradable stats for the characters are available, but are shared between each character. Reducing the recharge time of abilities, or increase your health are examples of upgradable stats. Various missions, that are also tied to trophies, show various collectibles and other hidden secrets. Collectibles act as side objectives and create a nice diversion from the main quest. Targets on lower levels are hidden to shoot, and rings on the side of the tower are there to fly through. Combat is fairly simple and there are no terribly difficult moments. It’s a good enough challenge that won’t leave you frustrated and want to stop playing.
As you traverse through the tower, you are bound to find secret areas. Sometimes you need to hit a hidden switch, but other times you’ll need to fall to lower areas of the tower to find secrets. Free-falling to access other areas of the tower is a major part of gameplay. When in free-fall, you’ll need to use your jetpack to land safely in lower levels. The jetpack has a short supply of regenerating fuel, so don’t use all of it during free-fall, or you’ll have none left when trying to land. In addition to the jetpack, you’ll gain access to an air teleport. Mostly, it is used for when you accidentally fall of the side of the tower. When in free-fall, you can automatically teleport to the last place of solid land you were standing on, so you don’t need to climb up the tower all over again. I found myself enjoying jumping off the tower to fly down and look at all of the previous areas and find collectibles, just to then teleport back to where I was standing. Checkpoints are spread throughout the tower and each character can teleport to whatever checkpoint you have unlocked. It works great if you are looking to access previous areas, or if you fall and need to get back up to where you were. A mini-map in the lower right hand corner shows you what platforms you’ve accessed and which ones you haven’t. It’s a big help when backtracking to find secrets. The final major part of gameplay is the vertical shooting. When approaching the edge of a level, you will see what is below you. Enemies will frequently come from lower levels to attack the player. At times, there will be enemies on your current level as well as below you. You’ll need to manage both sets of enemies at the same time to succeed.
The presentation of The Deadly Tower of Monsters is mostly fantastic. The game starts you off in a VHS filter, with visible scan lines to give the “film” an old-school look. You can change to a DVD filter that clears up the scan lines for a clearer picture, but I recommend the VHS look. Music can be repetitive, as it started to get into my head after awhile, leading me to turn down the music a bit. The dialogue is satisfying to listen to, as the director and actors perform their cheesy B-Movie lines. Occasionally I was stuck in some areas, leading me to restart checkpoints. This usually happened when trying to find new areas by jumping on various terrain. The game also froze for short periods of time, but the game didn’t completely crash. Perhaps it was just loading the next section. The framerate can drop, but it’s barely noticeable. You have light control of the camera, as it mostly follows the current character. When in free-fall, I found it hard to judge landings and jumps, as the game switches between an isometric free-fall view, to a top-down view. I had to retry a few jumps to land on the platform I wanted.
The Deadly Tower of Monsters took me about 4 hours to complete, and finding all of the collectibles and completing all of the missions, may take you another hour or two. I never got tired of the game, but it felt like it ended at just the right time. It wasn’t too long, and it wasn’t too short. I’ll definitely return to the game to complete all the missions. I may even play through certain parts of the game again to hear the Director’s crazy commentary.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- B-Movie "film"
- Director's commentary
- Boss encounters
What I Dislike:
- Minor technical issues