Campy sci-fi movies are the best. Developer ACE Team seemingly agrees, as their latest creation feels like a love-letter to fans of 1950s B-movies, complete with stop-motion dinosaurs. The Deadly Tower of Monsters is as cheesy as it sounds, and delivers a unique experience that is highlighted in its presentation. The core game play underneath is your standard isometric action title, but what surrounds it is what truly makes it special.
ACE Team is certainly a standout developer. Having created such franchises as Zeno Clash, Abyss Odyssey, and Rock of Ages, I knew what I was in for. Their latest certainly continues the trend by taking a familiar style, and making it much more interesting.
Platforms: PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $14.99
The Deadly Tower of Monsters plays out like DVD commentary for a classic sci-fi movie. The director walks players through each scene with copious amounts of detail. Not only does he describe each set, enemy, and reason for the action in the scene, he will also comment on player action. For example, if the player dies, he describes it as a retake, or if the player simply stands still for an extended period of time, he notes how great this long shot is. It’s impressive.
The premise behind the game is to ascend a giant tower filled with cliché enemies from classic sci-fi films – man-eating plants, giant insects, and of course the classic stop-motion dinosaurs. Everything looks great, and as I ascended higher on the tower, the game threw more interesting enemies at me.
Blasting through the game won’t take long. The campaign is roughly 4-5 hours, with a couple tacked on for exploration and collectibles. While it sounds short, it actually works to the game’s benefit. Any longer, and it would have worn out its welcome. It feels like the perfect length for the goal ACE Team was trying to achieve.
The combat is simple, with the option for melee or ranged attacks. Melee weapons deal massive damage at close range, but sometimes the hit detection felt slightly off. It was also hard to adjust my aim due to the perspective. Shooting is a bit more effective, as is has a soft lock-on mechanic that helps, but the weapons feel underpowered early on. There is an upgrade system that allows for more powerful weapons, but I found this to be sparse as the items needed to upgrade weapons were few and far between.
So much of what makes The Deadly Tower of Monsters special is in its presentation. The commentary by the director is only one piece of the puzzle. The visuals also paint a memorable picture. The entire game has a VHS filter that gives it that low-budget appearance. This can be toggled in the options menu with a cleaner, DVD filter, but I definitely recommend keeping it retro. I don’t think this game would be nearly as appealing, or would have kept me slogging through the combat, if it were not for these visual treats.
The Deadly Tower of Monsters is unlike anything else in its genre. The theme and presentation carries it for the entire ride, and even though the combat can be mundane at times, the set pieces and commentary more than make up for it. Fans of classic B-movies would be remiss to pass on this quirky action title. Its personality and charm make it worth playing through on their own.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.