Deadly Tower of Monsters comes from everyone’s favorite publisher of weird titles Atlus and Chilean developer Ace Team. Ace has a short but notarized list of games from the last console generation such as the Zeno Clash series and Abyss Odyssey, both of which have been heralded for having their own unique styles and solid gameplay.
With a style all its own, Deadly Tower of Monsters is a loving and devoted callback to B-movie horror flicks in video game form. The entire premise promises all the cheese and corner-cutting costs that you can handle; director Dan Smith is brought on to do a DVD commentary track that plays over the majority of the game, offering his “unique insight” into how the movie you’re playing was made. He’ll call out how the trees that look like plastic actually were plastic on set and how someone swore to him that the string attached to bats wasn’t in the shot when you can see them bouncing on a fishing line in-game.
The visual jokes and aesthetic are this game’s strongest areas by a wide margin. You can see how haphazardly these creatures were thrown together to be made to seem terrifying, frames of some monsters are removed to simulate the popular stop-motion animation style that era loved, and countless other visual tickles to your fancy liter this tower. The environments themselves feel lush and are visually appealing with changing color palettes as you climb the titular, exceedingly tall structure, which could’ve seemed very drab and boring otherwise. Instead, there’s a sense of intrigue as the director apparently couldn’t settle on one monster or set design style, giving his comedy of errors a flavor that keeps changing under your hero’s watch.
You’ll often have your pick of the three heroes of the flick between Dick, Scarlet, and Robot. Personally, Robot was the pick of choice as his interactions and sub-Lost-in-Space quality voice made for some pretty humorous scenes. On occasion, you’ll have to switch to another hero in order to use their special ability i.e. Dick can drop a mine next to a rock cube to burst a hole in its side and remove it from your path as it comically deflates like the balloon it is. There are dozens of sci-fi movie references as well ranging from obvious – lightsabers – to a bit of obscurity that fans of MST3K may remember. Deadly Tower of Monsters is devoted to being a visual joke-fest that keeps you immersed in the absurdly B-movie world and succeeds for the most part.
The only piece that doesn’t quite fit that vibe is in the music. It’s a tremendously good soundtrack full of pieces that make you feel like you’re on the grand adventure the director imagined, but that’s just it. The music feels out-of-place because of how sweeping and grandly it plays. There are a few concoctions that feel in tune with the rest of the game, but the ensemble feels out-of-place as a whole.
Gameplay in Deadly Tower of Monsters doesn’t feel as solid as the theme, but doesn’t seem to lag that far behind either. You’ll have melee and long-range options with some of those sci-fi references at your disposal, all of which are upgradable by strewn cogs and interchangeable to discover which packs the most punch. The three heroes share one stable of upgrades that you purchase as the game progresses. Strangely enough, one of the strongest attributes to the gameplay feels like its isometric point of view. With this, you are able to see only down the tower for the majority of the game, seeing where you’ve come from as some fairly impressive heights. You can also shoot down the edge of platforms at monsters and targets along the structure along the way. Skydiving through hoops, again somewhat oddly, instills a sense of peace as you can end falling for amazing distances between tapping L1 to rearrange yourself back to your last platform.
The pitfalls with the game seem to be small in number but consistent in presence. The gameplay is fine as it is, but loses what little challenge it has fairly soon. Boss fights are huge in scale and are not particularly offensive until the final boss that just kind of shows up, again without much of any challenge beyond an ability to dodge. Probably the worst part of the game is actually the director’s commentary itself. Dan Smith is played so straight as an unapologetically bumbling director that it just comes off as tedious when you realize a lot of what he’s talking about is already visible in the game world. He is given some lines that at least windows into how he “made the movie” that are worth the effort, but again the ending just drops the ball immensely to an absolute null effect.
In the case of Deadly Tower of Monsters, it really is all about the journey. B-movie soldiers will undoubtedly find a treasure-trove of references while completionists will find more than one hidden cove in this movie backlot. The director’s commentary, while not adding much in the specifics of his words, does lend itself to immersion and what it was probably like to create movies back during the heyday of sci-fi. Deadly Tower of Monsters hands you a lot of love in a single package, giving gaming and movie fans plenty of reason for more than one showing.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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