REVIEW: Towerfall Ascension [PS4]

The PS4 is quickly becoming the destination of choice for small indie titles. Since it’s launch the console has begun to build an impressive library of indie titles, many of which support cross buy, making them available on the PS3 and PS Vita. As a lover of all things indie, I’ve found this an absolute godsend. I buy a lot of games on Steam… A LOT OF GAMES. The problem? I hardly play them.

So, when indie games come to PS platforms and Vita┬áthere is a much better chance of me actually finding the time to play them. Well, I’m sure glad Towerfall found it’s way to PS4, as chances are I might never have checked this awesome little indie brawler out. The game began it’s life on the Ouya micro-console, before jumping to Steam and PS4 with a new subheader – Ascension.

Versus Mode is clearly the highlight of this Indie brawler

Versus Mode is clearly the highlight of this Indie brawler

As stated above Towerfall is a 2D arena based brawler, that focuses entirely on the tricky art of archery. The games primary focus is a 4 player versus mode that will start rivalries, cause swear words to be uttered and end friendships. You see, Towerfall – Ascension is not about button mashing your way to victory. Hell, given your limited number of arrows that’s not even an option. No, Towerfall is all about guile, strategy and of course, some good ol’ fashioned dumb luck.

The game plays out in small arenas filled with platforms. The arenas typically have holes in the floor and matching ones in the ceiling. The trick here is that you can actually drop through the gap and emerge at the top of the room. This can be very handy if you’re planning to pop down on an enemy from above and reminds me of old school arcade games like Mario Bros. or Centipede. Players have a limited number of arrows to shoot, but can also jump on enemies and stun them with a dash attack.

TFAPS4

The arena design is exceptional, with plenty of spaces for guerilla warfare

Arrows have proper physics and I’ve been witness to some pretty awesome trick shots using a mixture of physics, platform placement and torches. The thing is, your arrows don’t simply replenish. You actually have to collect the arrows wherever they land. Items spawn in chests which allow the player to hold more arrows, take more damage and even turn invisible when not aiming. Some of these abilities are much more useful in Quest Mode than VS, where players can still clearly see you – even when invisible.

Quest Mode is more like a… trials mode – though there are actually trials present elsewhere in this downloadable gem. In Quest Mode players must survive an onslaught of enemies, which get phased in through a series of waves. Quest Mode is a lot of fun, although it’s worth noting the difficulty curve is as steep as an arrow fired directly overhead. Still, it’s a good way to improve your skills in anticipation of your next versus match, when you’ll show them all who’s boss.

The quest mode is no slouch either, with plenty of fun/tough levels on offer

The quest mode is no slouch either, with plenty of fun/tough levels on offer

Towerfall – Ascension is one of those small, simple indie games I thoroughly love. It’s minimalistic gameplay allowed the creator to ensure that the core of the game was as solid as humanly possible. It’s bite sized gameplay sessions and addictive multiplayer mean you can jump into quick matches that suddenly become extensive tournaments. Before you know it 5 hours have flown by and you’re still losing six nil. There is no online multiplayer, which feels a bit bizarre for a modern game with such a focus on competitive play.

If you have a group of mates that love a bit of in-fighting though, you will get more than your moneys worth from this sparkling little indie diamond.

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