Towerfall: Ascension review – Archery Rivals 
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Geoffrey Tim
March 31, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Remember a time when gaming was all about fun? “Online” multiplayer gaming wasn’t viable, DLC and micro transactions didn’t exist? Remember when “multiplayer” gaming meant having a bunch of friends around, each with a controller in hand and a butt on a couch? Towerfall: Ascension brings that magic back.

Towerfall was actually an Ouya original, and touted as the system’s “killer app,” but it’s now been released on systems that more people actually own; the PlayStation 4 and PC. It’s got a new subtitle, Ascension, subtly telling you that it’s risen above its past.

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It’s quite a simple two-dimensional game, though it harbours a hidden complexity making it one of those “easy to play, hard to master” sorts of games. Its main mode, adversarial multiplayer, pits up to four players against each other in single-screen levels in a game of archery to the death.

The controls are simple: you use the d-pad or left analogue stick to move about and aim. Using the controller’s buttons, you’ll be able to jump, unleash an arrow or evade. The action is fast and frenetic, with rounds lasting not very long at all. At first, you’ll probably try to take out your friends with just arrows, but you’ll start noticing a little more nuance to it all. Arrows are limited; you’ll start with a quiver of just three – and you’ll have to pick them up after letting them fly.

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There’s no line of trajectory, so you’ll have to learn the game’s physics system to pull off more impressive, crazy shots.  You can steal arrows from other players by bumping them, or stealing their lost ammunition. Jumping on a foe’s head spells instant death for the afflicted, perfect for when you’ve exhausted your own supply. You can wall jump, allowing you to reach higher platforms or evade arrows. Using the dodge button as you’re shot plucks the arrow from the air…like a pixellated Bruce Leroy in The Last Dragon. Dodging has a short cooldown though, so knowing exactly when to dodge is important. The hidden complexity makes the action all  the more gratifying. Power-ups come in to play too. Chests appear at intervals on the map, with the first to reach them awarded some sort of conferred bonus – like extra arrows, explosive ammos, or wings that allow you to fly around the level.

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The game comes with just a handful of modes: Versus, the game’s primary mode;Trials – which have you practising your skills on straw-filled dummies in timed challenges, and a brand new single-player or co-op Quest. This new mode adds a little meat, tasking you (and a friend!) with completing 11 stages where you must overcome waves of increasingly difficult enemies

Within its primary versus mode, you got a few gametypes; Headhunter, which awards “skulls” for kills with the aim of being the first to reach a target score; Last Man standing, which as the name implies awards points to the last remaining survivor and Team Deathmatch, which really doesn’t need explaining. A large number of options exist to customise your matches, with variables for the types of starting ammo, powerups, level types and even an option to have slain opponents return as ghosts. Find a rule set you love, and you can even save it as a pre-set for future games.

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With a delicious 16-bit aesthetic, Towerfall: Ascension is perhaps some of the most fun I’ve had playing any game all year – but with a caveat; you’ll need friends and extra controllers. Mutiplayer here is the local only sort but if you have any sort of social standing there’s a lot to enjoy. I played the game this past weekend with my family, and it was a blast, with just about every round ending up in screams of riotous laughter, exclamations of “how the hell did you do that?” and sore loser punches to arms.

If you have enough friends and enough extra controllers (using a PlayStation Vita works perfectly here), Towerfall: Ascension is unmissable.  If you’re a fan of games like Powerstone or Super Smash Bros, Towerfall: Ascension should already be in your digital collection.

Conclusion

If you remember when "multiplayer" meant friends and a multitap, Towerfall: Ascension will fill you with glee. With its healhty dose of old-school adversarial local multiplayer, fans of games like Powerstone or Super Smash Bros should already have Towerfall: Ascension in their libraries. .
8.5

Towerfall: Ascension was reviewed by Geoffrey Tim on a PlayStation 4

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces. I am also the emperor of the backend

  • Jedi JJ

    This actually looks pretty cool. I’ve been playing a lot of old school games lately and loving them.

    • http://www.twitter.com/WobblyOnion Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

      IT is SO MUCH FUN.

      • Jedi JJ

        Was playing Comix Zone the weekend. Man, what a great game. Even the soundtrack is excellent. So I’m very ready for more old-school games.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    I need a friend in order to play it? #ForeverSP :(

    • VampyreSquirrel

      You’ll have to invite Rince over.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA! Oh… you were serious? :D

        • VampyreSquirrel

          Nah I actually wasn’t XD

          Just wanted to give you a good laugh

          • Jedi JJ

            Last time Rince came over the plastic potplant died.

          • Admiral Chief of Auraxis

            O_O

          • Jedi JJ

            Yes. I was just as surprised to see someone with a plastic potplant. Trololo

          • VampyreSquirrel

            Damn! That’s hardcore! Poor plastic plant.

  • Umar hearts Grandia

    Sitting on a couch with snacks and playing games. In all honesty, I forgot what that feels like

    • VampyreSquirrel

      Castle Crashers, 4 players, 1 room, alcohol, snacks = pure epicness

      • Umar hearts Grandia

        Nice! Used to play Fat Princess quite hard as well

        • Admiral Chief of Auraxis

          “used to play fat princess quite hard…”

          BWHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

          Too much to drink??

          :P

          • Umar hearts Grandia

            LMFAO Touche my friend….Touche

          • Admiral Chief of Auraxis

            ;) At least she was a princess…

          • Jedi JJ

            Umar has his own taste. Can’t judge a man on that.

          • Umar hearts Grandia

            Lol They must have some meat on the bone. Don’t wana play with sticks and stones

          • Jedi JJ

            Amen to that. Today’s “look” is probably the type of pics they used back in the day to identify people with eating disorders.

          • VampyreSquirrel

            Sticks and stones don’t break your bones though (in this context)

          • Jedi JJ

            Well, by the sound of Umar “playing hard”, there might be some fractures at least.

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