The Deadly Tower of Monsters
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 9

The Deadly Tower of Monsters challenges players to make their way up an enormous tower while dispatching an assortment of B-movie monsters. The whole game is framed as a DVD re-release of an old sci-fi movie, complete with commentary by the director. It obviously doesn’t take itself very seriously, and some elements, like the camera, can be a little annoying, but the game is a blast to play from start to finish.

Gameplay: Players spend most of their time hacking, slashing, shooting, and platforming, but freefalling off the tower is a lot of fun, too.

Graphics: The attention to detail is excellent, from the stop-motion enemies to the dizzying heights from which players can freefall.

Sound: The soundtrack is really good, and while the commentary might not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is really well done

Summary 8.3 Outstanding
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The Deadly Tower of Monsters

Developer: ACE Team | Publisher: SEGA | Release Date: 2016 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

It’s not every day a game opens with the director introducing himself and informing players that he will provide commentary while they are playing. However, The Deadly Tower of Monsters is framed as a DVD re-release of a classic science fiction B-movie, and the commentary is by the fictional director of the movie, Dan Smith. Joining Dan is Patrick, a sound engineer tasked with helping Dan navigate the unfamiliar world of director commentary. For players, this means that The Deadly Tower of Monsters is a 3rd person action adventure game that mercilessly parodies science fiction B-Movies from the golden age. At the same time, commentary by Dan Smith attempts to explain all the absurd things happening onscreen.

 The premise for The Deadly Tower of Monsters is that the intrepid Dick Starspeed has crash landed on Planet Gravoria, which an evil emperor and mad scientist are exploiting. Starspeed is soon joined by Scarlet Nova, the rebel daughter of the evil emperor, and Robot, his trusty robot sidekick. Together, the three must make it up to the top of the deadly tower where the emperor resides and end his villainous ways. By “together,” we mean swapping between the three characters at special “sleeping pods,” which, according to Dan Smith, was necessary due to scheduling conflicts with the actors. The developers added a four-player local co-op mode to the game shortly after it was released, but since it was designed as a single-player experience, there are a few limitations. 

The Deadly Tower of Monsters plays like a good old hack-and-slash, with players taking down monsters using either melee or ranged weapons. Up to two of each can be carried at a time, and there’s a nice assortment to find, including rayguns, flamethrowers, rocket launchers, daggers, longswords, and even a lightsaber. Scattered around the tower, players will also find three different types of cogs, which, combined with the gold dropped by dispatched enemies, can be used to upgrade the weapons. The game is viewed from an isometric overhead perspective with a fixed camera that players can adjust to a limited degree. The camera can sometimes be a little annoying as it switches perspective, but it’s a small price for the brilliant visuals. The developers have committed fully to the B-Movie premise, and players will encounter enemies and bosses inspired by all the classics. Everything from Godzilla and King Kong to Flash Gordon and Plan 9 From Outer Space appears to have been carefully studied and imitated. Some of our favorite enemies include the stop-motion dinosaurs, but players will also run into talking monkeys that are obvious actors in costumes, giant ants, aliens, robots, and more. The joke carries over to flying enemies with very visible strings holding them up and a monster that is clearly just a dog with a vacuum cleaner strapped to it. 

The tower is not only massive but consists of different sections home to different creatures and traps. This means that while players journey upwards, the scenery constantly changes, and looking down will show how far they’ve already made it. Dan Smith is very proud of all the cost-cutting measures he implemented in his movie, from the plastic-looking trees to the inflated rocks. There’s even a black and white section, which, according to Dan, was originally going to be used for flashbacks, and a literal rag doll of the lead actor used in some cut-scenes. It’s also hard not to laugh at a boom mic appearing in the corner of the screen during a cut scene or the director talking about lens flare and camera techniques while a massive smudged fingerprint appears on the screen. The developers describe the color palette and visual effects as “VHS” mode, and it works well enough that, at times, it felt like the only thing missing from the experience was a pair of red and blue 3D glasses. 

Audio obviously plays a vital role in The Deadly Tower of Monsters, and ACE Team did a great job capturing the B-movie feel. The voice actors for Dan Smith and Patrick nailed their roles, and the three “actors” starring in the film delivered their best B-movie performances. The sound effects sound good, too, and the orchestral soundtrack is like something ripped straight out of an actual B-movie. There’s even a Wilhelm scream for enemies that get knocked off the tower and plunge to their doom. In addition, players can choose between the default “DVD” quality for the soundtrack or even more authentic “VHS” quality. The director commentary by Dan Smith is almost non-stop and is really funny for the most part. He even has a few context-sensitive quips for situations where players are dawdling too long or do something silly, like spinning in circles. Patrick will interject now and then to question some of the more outlandish things happening and plays a more significant role in the game’s final act, where things become even stranger.   

The Deadly Tower of Monsters is perfectly playable with a keyboard and mouse, but we found a controller to be a little more comfortable. Players can perform melee and ranged attacks with stronger versions of each possible by holding the attack button before releasing. The game also has a dedicated dodge button for evading attacks, but timing the button press correctly results in a parry. The ranged weapons have unlimited ammo, but cooldown periods mean they cannot be spammed. While the game is relatively easy, for the most part, enemies can hit hard, and players can take repeated hits that quickly sap their health. However, death just means a return to the nearest checkpoint, while the director quips that it must have been the wrong scene that was played. Fortunately, enemies can take damage from friendly fire and environmental hazards to help even the odds. 

When not beating up enemies, players will need to do a bit of platforming to make their way up the enormous tower. Although each character has a jetpack, the limited fuel means that it is mainly used for hovering or breaking falls. Due to the camera angles and narrow walkways in some tower sections, it’s not uncommon to accidentally fall off. Still, the game has a dedicated button for resetting players to the last bit of solid ground, which is extremely useful. However, the game also encourages players to go freefalling off the tower as it’s a great way to spot things they might have missed and experience the great sense of height the game has. Since there are no loading screens, players can freefall from the top of the tower all the way down to the ground in one epic plunge and will survive it, provided they activate their jetpack in time. Since players can teleport straight back to any of the previously reached checkpoints strewn around the tower quite generously, there’s no frustration involved in taking a break to go freefalling. 

The Deadly Tower of Monsters doesn’t require any real puzzle-solving, and gameplay consists primarily of beating up enemies or jumping across platforms. Occasionally, players will be informed that enemies are attacking from below, and the game has a dedicated button to switch the camera view down if players are near a ledge. This allows them to shoot downward at the enemies, usually UFOs or pterodactyls before they can reach them. This view mode is also great for spotting the twenty-five targets hidden around the tower. Shooting these is optional but rewards players with an achievement, which is tied to skill points in the game. Other achievements include freefalling through a certain amount of the rings hovering around the tower and finding missing film reels. The skill points can be used to upgrade the damage of melee or ranged weapons, increase characters’ health and regeneration times, and so on. While the three characters look different, they mostly play the same and share the same upgrades. The only difference is that they each have their own unique ability, like a speed boost for Scarlet and a slowdown ability for the Robot, which is necessary for some parts to proceed. 

It only takes about five hours to complete The Deadly Tower of Monsters, so hunting down all the achievements adds some extra playtime. The developers also added a survival mode after the game was released to address this issue. This mode is separate from the main game and requires players to fight waves of enemies for credits that can be used to upgrade their weapons and powers. The goal is to make it through as many waves as possible, but enemies are considerably more deadly in this mode compared to how easy they are to defeat in the main game. 

ACE Team is known for its quirky title, and The Deadly Tower of Monsters joins games like Zeno Clash and Abyss Odyssey in their impressive lineup. It’s not perfect, as some players might find the whole commentary gimmick to be more annoying than humorous, while the combat can be a bit repetitive. Nevertheless, we had fun making our way up the tower, and Dan Smith’s deranged commentary kept things interesting. The Deadly Tower of Monsters is not the first to spoof sci-fi B-Movies, but it is one of the ones that pulls it off the best and should not be missed.

System Requirements

  • OS *: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or AMD Athlon X2 4800+
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTS 1024MB or ATI Radeon HD 5750/6670 1024MB
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 4 GB available space
  • OS *: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10
  • Processor: Intel Core i5
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 4 GB available space

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