Top down shooters have come into the spotlight often as of late, with the most recent being RUINER from Reikon Games and Devolver Digital (check out our review by the way), which all seem to capture the genre’s appeal very well. Of course, you have the likes of Hotline Miami and Serious Sam which are the more celebrated of franchises, but it seems like the indie scene is stepping up their game big time and truly showcasing their talents in a big way. This brings us to Tower 57, a 2D action sci-fi shooter that puts players into a dystopian dieselpunk world, which is filled with an abundance of humor and some inspiration from the likes of Bioshock and even Fallout. Those who grew up in the age of Amiga gaming will most likely get the feels when they feast their eyes on this title, since the neo-retro style is heavily influenced by that era and speaks volumes with regards to the overall fast paced action in the game. Will it cater to everyone? We don’t expect it to, but it will definitely grab your attention and keep you immersed the longer you spend time with it.
What to Expect
Like any other top down shooter out there, Tower 57 is no different in that regard. What makes it unique is in the overall design and way you actually play through the game. You choose from six very outlandish yet intriguing individuals, all of whom come with their own unique abilities to take down enemies, in hopes to infiltrate the infamous Tower 57. We’ll go more into the gameplay later in the article but with regards to what to expect, just expect a lot of really cool visuals and gameplay that’s truly fun not only on your own but with co-op since there’s online and offline options. Hours can fly by as you blast your way through corridors taking out tough and relentless foes, in hopes to gather more powerful tools through the vending machines that are dispersed throughout each level (This is where the Fallout and Bioshock reference come in). Each vending machine comes with its own little unique perk and knowing when to optimize your weapon or just grab a simple upgrades requires a little strategic thinking, just so you don’t die all the time. With all that being said, let’s jump straight into the gameplay side of things.
The whole gist of the game is simple: survive at all costs. It’s not always easy especially when you need to first get accustomed to how the mechanics work for each character, since each has their own unique approach to dealing with certain scenarios. It’s not just about racing through each level and avoiding as much as you can because to be frank, avoiding death can be difficult. Enemies will rip your limbs off which will leave your character scrambling to purchase new limbs through the vending machines, but the more you die the higher the price becomes so it creates this motivation to really play through the game meticulously. Playing through the single player campaign was truly an enduring experience because the boss battles can really be taxing, and if you aren’t careful about your approach, you tend to bite off more than you can chew.
However that’s the beauty of Tower 57 because it doesn’t try to provide the silver spoon experience, it throws you into a world that’s unforgiving and you’ll need to have your game face on at all times in order to pull through. Where the game truly shines though is in its co-op play since that’s primarily what Pixwerk planted their attention towards, and you can truly see the difference when playing with someone. We’re not saying the single player experience is lacking because it’s far from that, but you really get a bang for your buck when you’re able to team up with a friend and beat the living hell out of these enemies who don’t seem to care about your feelings. Tower 57 has this cool vibe to it that personally, if it were to be explained through words, it would be hard to describe thoroughly. Once you find yourself immersed in the gameplay you’ll start to understand that vibe and realize that, it’s the smaller things that really create a big impact over the long term.
When you’re dying over and over or getting your limbs removed, you often overlook the very intricate details that the game presents to you. Of course, the visuals themselves are one an important trait to point out, but perhaps it’s more about how fluid everything feels as you play. Some top down shooters provide either one of two things, really fluid gameplay but poor controls or really great controls but poor performance. Tower 57 seems to accurately create a nice balance between the two and it just adds more presence to the game. The characters you choose from are wacky in their own right, with the likes of an Abe Lincoln inspired sprite that’s decked out in cyborg apparel, or some beautiful looking woman who comes out swinging and shows no remorse for the enemy. Getting to know each character in Tower 57 adds a lot more fun to the overall gameplay and so we encourage you to try each one out to see what style suits you best.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
It’s not very often that co-op games provide a very concrete experience from start to finish, but Tower 57 manages to nail every category extraordinarily well and more some. We mentioned earlier in the review that we’re starting to see a greater influx of indie developers showing off their talents, and to be honest we need more of them. That’s not to say that AAA teams aren’t dishing out quality titles for us to enjoy, but from our perspective it seems that indie developers really design games from the heart and not the pocket. If there was only one thing to probably bicker about it’s that maybe more focus could’ve been placed on the single player experience, just so that those who prefer to go the lone wolf route would have something more to enjoy. It’s not lacking severely but as we stated earlier, Tower 57 is designed to provide the best co-op experience both off and online so if there were maybe more achievements and secrets to unlock, perhaps it would provide more incentive to run through single player some more.
Amiga inspired gameplay is always a plus.
Glorious looking neo-retro style visuals.
Smooth gameplay and controls.
Co-op play is a blast to play.
Just wish more content was added in for single player campaign via achievements, etc.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Tower 57 is one title that co-op fans along with top down shooter fans will not want to miss. The game is officially out today so we definitely suggest checking it out. With plenty of replay value in the co-op mode, you’ll find yourself grinding away for hours, laughing at all the clever jokes while trying to keep all your limbs intact, as you race toward the end game. Be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest gaming news, and of course, anything pop culture related in Japan. Follow us on Twitch as well to know when we go live, and by all means come stop by and say hello when we stream all the otaku games.
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!