Tower of Guns is an FPS with a difference. Instead of pullling iron site up to my face and pushing story down my throat, Tower of Guns, or TOG as I’m gonna call it, Threw me back through time, back to when shooters were simpler, more kinetic, and concentrating on doing one thing really well: Shooting.
Made by the beautiful mind that is Joe Mirabello, the sole founder and member of his new gaming creation Terrible Posture Games, TOG takes everything that made the golden oldies such as Doom, Quake, and Duke Nukem (Yeah! Come get some!) and mixed it with some modern gaming ideas to make an fps like no other.
TOG creates every single aspect of itself by using a technique called procedural generation. What dose that mean to the rest of us non-coder nerds? Well, it means that everything is randomized every time I play though the game. From weapons, to enemies to levels and boss encounters, everything is randomized, literally everything. Even the story is changed on every play through.
And the randomness doesn’t end there, I encountered random jump abilities, random level up perks, random perk Perks(Is that even a thing?). And, after playing through and dragged myself through digital hell and back, I can tell you you’re going to need all these random weapons of mass destruction to survive. Because there is a wall of screen filling bullets flying toward your head. And if you die, when you die, that’s it, the game’s over! Yes, TOG even has Perm-Death. For all your Roguelike lovers out there.
So pick up your randomized shotgun come laser shooting rocket launcher and come join me as I blast my way to the top of the Tower of Guns!
Party like your playing doom 2
Quake 2 Makes a Comeback
The first time I got dumped into one of the random level OF TOG I couldn’t help but stand there, for little time, just before bullets started slamming into my face, to take in the wonderful view that stood before me. Ha! who am I kidding the game looks like a 90s shambles.
I’m going to admit that, by today’s standards, TOG is a very ugly game. I didn’t find much in the realms of real time lighting and shadows, or any other fancy stuff I might spy in a modern game. Ow no, TOG banishes such fancy pants graphical niceties in favor of manic fast game play.
I did not go into this expecting the second coming Horizon: Zero Dawn. But I did expect a little more than Quake 2 level graphics. I expected the graphics to be a little, how should I put it, a little old school, and they are.But I was hopping for a sprinkling of graphical effects. All I got was plain old tasteless vanilla ice cream.
But there is a certain old school charm about the dully shaded polygons that make up Tower of gun’s world. The smudged textures, and angular enemies hark back to the days when games were all about fun, not about making models 4 Quintilian polygons and resolutions that registered in the trillions of pixels. TOG goes backward, while doggedly clinging on to the future in other ways which I will explain more about later.
But for now I was still coming to terms with the basic looks of the beast. And the fact that TOG is running on Unreal Engine 3. I did not realise it was possible to make Unreal 3 games look this old.
So Joe has done well to capture that archaic aesthetic, that muddy brown that pervade throughout the 90s perfectly. Not an easy feat when every game engine tries to throw per pixel lighting at you like over zealous bunting slingers at a drink fueled wedding party.
TOG does well to steer clear of any kind of modern gaming graphical effect to deliver the perfect retro FPS escape. Good effort, because its looks shite. And that’s just the way I like it.
Lighting Fast Gameplay
Touched on briefly in the intro, I said that TOG sticks closely to the old school shooter formula, and it does. But what does that mean.
Well for everybody who has played Quake 2, or Doom, or any shooter before Half-Life, you can miss out this section. You already know the gorgeous frantic feel of the old school shooters. That’s how Tower of Guns feels.
For the rest of you, Step on in and keep reading.
Lightning is Slower Than This!
TOG is fast, and I don’t me fast as in I have a blazing GTX 1080 under the hood of my PC fast. It’s fast as in everything from shooting, to moving, to jumping is played out as if the run key is constantly held down and fast forward is being pressed.
When I first got dropped into the opening area, I touch the forward key, with the lightness of a humming bird I might add, and to my shock my character dashed forward as if he was the flash. My eyes took a moment to settle on this new speed. I press the strafe key slowly pushing in the MX Red Actuator and screen would warp as my character slide sideways through the simple geometric landscape like the floor was made of hot coals. The speed, the reaction times felt incredible.
These days, shooters are cumbersome affairs, slowly raise your gun up to your eye – I hate aiming down sites in games. You can’t jump, that’s unfair, your reticule expands with slightest change in posture or velocity. Yes, it’s all very realistic. All very bloody boring too.
Fortunately, TOG stuck a meaty middle finger up at the modern shooter while shouting nasty obscenities at the same time.
And it’s not just moving that’s quick, the jumping is fast, and can be a little insane too. At times I’ve scooped up perks – more on these later – that have given me for all intents and purpose super powers. With perks by my side the impossible becomes possible as I perform 15 double jumps one after another to bounce and bank off walls like a super sized pinball machine. Except this pinball machine is full of randomized shit that wants me dead.
If you have this preconception in your head that this game is fast. Dump it and think again. This game isn’t fast. No it’s faster than that! It makes lightning look like a slouch.
Story? We Don’t Need No Story
Another problem I have with modern shooters is that every single one of them seems obsessed with story. Call of Duty, my beady eye is on you. I don’t give to hoots about some Game of Thrones person who shows up in Infinite Warfare who has a grudge against a militate outfit I know nothing about. I mean, Just let me shoot stuff! Yes FPS after FPS seem to think, ‘oh, we need to give the player some extra depth to what they are doing.’
No you bloody don’t! Stop it. Let us just play.
I hate it, I’m sorry I do. Why do we need it? Can’t the act of playing be enough? To create our own stories instead of needing our hand held by cumbersome plots and one dimensional characters? I believe that story in most games isn’t needed. I want emergent story. What is that I hear you cry out. Well it’s the idea that the game mechanics come together to allow you to tell and create your own story. Simple ay? Think Minecraft. Watch this space for a future rant on story in games.
Anyway back to TOG.
TOG has no story, ok that’s a lie. It has some randomized stuff at the beginning to explain this looming tower that randomly (how in-keeping with the game’s theme) popped up in the middle of my town. And it randomly chooses a character for me. I was often the barbarian with rocket launchers. Kinda’ suited me I thought.
But that was it, there was no mention of the story after this, nothing. And it was so welcome. My story came from how I managed to doge 1500 bullets without taking damage. Or how I used jump boosters to ascend to the top of the tower while rocket launching spinning razor sharp sword baddies. Yes there is such an enemy.
Every story was different, but personal to me, and I love that. The fact that Tower of Guns is like Lego. I could just sit play, create. And have the best time.
If you are the uncreative type and need a story to walk you through a game, then tower of guns is not for you. But if you just love to play, just love to get stuck in and paint your own narrative with your gun, then this is going to be right up your street.
R-type rogue like
I’ve already mentioned that the game is blisteringly fast, but there’s something else that make TOG seer your eyes like a 50 Mega Watt laser: the amount of bullets flying around.
And believe me there is a lot of bullets. If you want an idea of what dodging bullets is like in tower of guns. Try this experiment. Wait until there is a hail storm outside. Is there a hail storm outside? Yes, good well done for committing to this experiment. Now, run outside, and try and dodge all the falling balls of ice that are bopping you on the head.
Now lets reflect. How did you do? Dodge all those pesky ice pebbles? Avoid taking any high velocity ice on your face? No, good, get used to it because in Tower of Guns you will get hit. A lot.
The screen is often a cloying roiling mist of gunfire. Sometimes there are so many bullets and ungainly misshapen projectiles on screen, my surroundings would just dissolve away, the bullets often created a living wall of fire and death with only my on screen gun breaking up the monotony of the orange yellow noise.
TOG is like R-Type or one of it’s infinite clones. If you don’t like lots of bullets, then you may as-well turn around and go home. Because it’s literally like being showered in them!
Unfortunately, I don’t exactly posses the best reflexes the world has ever seen. I bit the bullet, a lot. And when I did, well, TOG is a rogue-like too. What does that mean? It means that every time I died, I was dead permanently and I had to restart the game. Harsh
Having played the game a few times through, and knowing something about it before I delved it, I can tell you that everything, literally everything is randomized.
Using the latest wizardry and magic that goes by the name of procedural generation TOG produced and endless stream of different enemies levels, guns and perks for my playing pleasure.
To start with, the world constantly changes with no two levels ever the same layout. From masses of giant cogs whirling around as if inside a giant clock tower, to barbed pendulums swinging across narrow gantries. Not once did I stumble upon a level that even felt similar.
Along with randomized Levels there are random enemies, from boxes that have knives sticking out of them, to however tanks that fire 15 shells a round, there is always a new enemy ready and waiting to kill you.
And I got to hammer all these randomized beasties with my, yes you guessed it, my randomized Guns. (I’m sure I’m over using the word randomize.) From shotguns that fired a spread of 20 pellets, which sounded kind of normal at the time, to rocket launchers that fire at the speed of a machine gun, while shooting homing lasers out the side. No two guns, I’m serious, are ever the same. If you can imagine the most grotesquely violent mish-mash of your favorite two or three weapons in your head, there is a good chance it’s in Tower of Guns.
Blue chits of leveling
While running around slaughtering all the enemies that slid out before me, and believe me, there where a shit tone of the buggers trying slice me and dice me, I noticed that every fallen critter dropped a shinny blue coin.
Sliding my self over while dodging the ever flowing rain of bullets, I hoovered up the blue chits gratefully. At first, I wasn’t really sure what they did or why I bothered. But I’m glad I did. These little blue viles of lovely are the key to me survival in the Tower of Guns.
Every glowing blue coin that jumped into my pocket provided my weapon with a little bit more juice and slowly edged a bar at the bottom of the screen closer to the holy ground of ‘LEVEL UP.’ As I’ll explain In the next section, every gun in the game can be levelled up, but you have to collect the blue shards to do it.
Once I had collected enough of the blue peaces of eight, My weapon glowed, and burst forth a new take on the term ‘mass destruction. My gun, which fired a single stream of bullets that wouldn’t subdue an angry donkey, now churned out a horizontal field of 8 bullets, not 4 or 5 but eight. Because seemingly anything less just wouldn’t have been enough.
With my new found Armageddon gun, I sprinted forward laying waste to all enemies both strange and down right wearied. Wave after wave of the procedurally generated gritters, exploded as a fist full of lead slammed them in the face, and into the next life. And each continued to drop these blue nuggets of leveling.
The great thing about Tower of Guns was no matter how much blue I picked up, no matter how much I leveled my guns, they just kept on getting better and better. It seemed like there was no upper level to how insanely city destroying the guns could get. At one point I leveled up a, we’ll call it a machine gun, to the point where 27 bullets flew out of the barrel like angry bees out of mount doom-bee. Skiting off in random directions looking for a fight, the bullets would hit home with the might of a small nuclear bomb. I really couldn’t ask for more from a weapon. But that’s just one type, there are millions of guns in the game. Who knows what some will level up to become.
Tower of guns is a game like no other. With its super fast twitch gaming and its everything is randomly generated aesthetic, It’s game that you are either going to love or hate.
For starters I liked the fact it was a short game, you could jump in die a few times but complete it, if your that damn good, in a little under 90 minutes. This may not sound like a lot, but Tower of Guns is a game that was designed to be replayed over and over again.
The procedural generation lends itself to this because you never see a gun, never mind an enemy or level, twice.
I also loved the old school feel of the game. My personal favorite shooters hark back to the day of Doom and Quake, of both I have completed probably over 20 times each. No mater what new fancy shooter comes out and steel my attention for a week, I always fall back on the game play first feel of the 90s schooter classics. And that’s what really hits TOG home as a must buy game for me. It conjures up nostalgia in bucket loads. You will transported back 20 years, to a time when gaming, as far as I’m concerned was not only simpler but far more fun.
Yes, Tower of Guns isn’t going to win any awards for graphics and sound, and for people out there that like story well, this isn’t for you. But for everybody else. For everybody who is tired of having there hand held, for everybody who is need of a trip back to simpler times, Tower of Guns is a welcome diversion.
So Tower of guns is a game you should take a look at. I think you might just like it.
-Ugly graphics, that somehow sing to my soul!
-Procedural generation done right
-Stunning old school feel to controls
-Did I say it was fast?
-Fantastic upgradeable abilities
-Leveled up guns can be Insane. In a good way.
-Every gun is upgradeable with perks
-Simple gun mechanics. No iron sights. YAY!
-Only 1–2 hours long
-no online play
-Randomized stories some times make no sense
-Some randomized bosses seem impossible to beat
-Some randomized enemies seem too randomized. Floating tanks anyone?
I recommend Tower of Guns as a Must Buy for gamers that love old school shooters, and a Try for everybody else.