The Deadly Tower of Monsters is a new twin-stick style shooter from Atlus that has you climbing a deadly tower, in which you fight monsters. As one would suspect from the name.
Heavily stylised as an homage to the B-Movie horror flicks that so typified 1950’s and 60’s science fiction, you will encounter shoddy ape suits, plastic trees, stop-motion animated dinosaurs, and very obvious strings holding up the flying creatures. It is an aesthetic that manages to maintain its charm long enough without ever becoming overused or cheap. There is a care and dedication to maintaining the feel of these movies, with the stop-motion dinosaurs have missed frames in their movement, or the ape costumes very clearly having no eyes in their costumes. The visual stylisation is best seen when diving from the top of the tower. It is a crisp clean style that knows exactly what it is aiming for, and the hefty draw distance gives fantastic views from the top of the tower.
It’s great and made better by the dialogue and ’director’s commentary’ that act as both the game’s story and hint system. The game is framed as the DVD special edition of the movie The Deadly Tower of Monster, over which the director gives commentary on why certain choices were made or behind the scenes stories from shooting. This adds to the humour on display, and offers hints when you are apparently stuck, ’She didn’t realise she was meant to be shooting the power cores’. It lays on the references to this time in cinema throughout the commentary. It is continuously amusing, and a few times genuinely funny. There are continuous callbacks to the budget problems that build upon one another throughout the game.
Not just a charming game to experience, it is also very fun to play. The controls are generally solid and responsive. I found that using the controller (supported on Steam) lead to a better experience1 . The combat is split into two major sections – mêlée and ranged, with both featuring a diverse range of weapons. You have your standard sci-fi ray guns and laser guns, as well as rocket launchers and Tesla guns for ranged, batons, whips, and lightsabers for mêlée. Each of the weapons can be upgraded to increase its effectiveness, via the use of collectible cogs found throughout the tower.
The guns have enough impact to feel like they all have their use and place, and being able to carry two at any time means you can equip yourself for most situations. The same is true of the mêlée weapons, but you are most likely to just pick up the one that you think looks the coolest, I went with the giant tentacle and the lightsaber. The enemies are balanced nicely so you never feel under or overpowered as you progress up the tower. The game is never difficult but neither is it a complete walk in the park. The combat is consistently enjoyable throughout the entire climb, and the boss fights have a satisfying logic to them.
The game is quite short, with around 3 hours to complete the initial campaign, and another 2 or 3 hours to explore all the additional areas and collectibles. This time feels about right because it means that game doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. The games continually hangs the lampshade when it comes to its Universe, so by being over and out in just a few hours, as well as providing a great ending, it does itself a favour. If the game went on further the problems of those fixed camera angles may have exposed themselves more. The camera is locked at an angle 1 overhead (that you can adjust slightly) which can make the platforming chunks frustrating due to not being able to tell what you are above until it is too late.
The Deadly Tower of Monsters is a fun little game that will bring smiles to anyone fond of B-Movies, and should provide a few chuckles to anyone not. It provides a solid experience with only a few moments of annoyance or confusion.
Pros: Solid and tight combat controls
Fantastic and charming B-Movie aesthetic
Creative and unique weapons add tonnes of character
Cons: Platforming sections are unnecessarily finickity
1. With mouse and keyboard, I had better movement and control but I had inconsistencies with getting the mêlée to make contact. With the controller, I just had to aim in the right direction for both ranged and mêlée.