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The Deadly Tower of Monsters

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Atlus U.S.A.
Developer: ACE Team
Release Date: Fall 2015


PS4/PC Preview - 'The Deadly Tower of Monsters'

by Thomas Wilde on June 30, 2015 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

The Deadly Tower of Monsters is an action-based adventure oozing with B-movie charm.

Sometimes at E3, a game jumps out of the clamor that is almost specifically for you.

This year, for me, that was The Deadly Tower of Monsters, a top-down action game that plays out as if it's the colorized remake of an old, cheesy 1950s science-fiction film. Narration is provided by the film's director, as if he's recording a DVD commentary track for a decades-later rerelease. The opening movie even includes a spaceship model held up by really obvious wires and a painted Styrofoam ball masquerading as a planet. I was told that several episodes of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" were specific influences on the game, and between its relentless self-parody and the deliberately awful "special effects," I can definitely see it.

The film's protagonist, Dick Starspeed (yes, really), has been marooned on the planet Gravoria, and to get off of it, needs to climb a tower back up to the stratosphere. Every level of the tower is inhabited by a rogues' gallery of classic SF villains, such as giant ants, enemy apes, giant enemy apes, and UFOs, and the surface of the planet is guarded by massive stop-motion dinosaurs.

Dick will get help from the "mysterious Scarlet Nova," who wasn't in the demo but appears to be the industry-standard woman in a form-fitting red spacesuit, and a robot who goes by "The Robot." You can switch between the three characters on the fly when you find a sleep chamber.

I got to play the game for a few minutes on the show floor, and I didn't have any trouble jumping right in, with a smooth feel and responsive controls. When you're above ground level, you can see the surface of Gravoria well below you and can punt enemies off the side to get rid of them. The action reminds me a bit of classic arcade games like Smash TV, where you're often outnumbered and surrounded, and you can use either an electrified baton or a classically styled blaster to take enemies on.

When you jump off the tower to return to the ground, you enter a freefall mode where you can slow down or speed up the protagonist's descent, dodging debris and enemies all the while, with the occasional opportunity to get eaten by stray pterosaurs. The idea is that you can ascend the tower to greater heights, then jump off and freefall to reach new areas of the tower and the island it rests on, discovering hidden rooms, treasures, and new equipment.

Thematically, this is the kind of game I'm surprised we didn't see before now: using the power of next-generation consoles to make the best-looking worst movies humanly imaginable. Listening to the director try and fail to justify his creative decisions is fun as hell, and it goes well with bashing aliens on a rickety steel walkway about 2,000 feet above sea level.

That said, I didn't play that much of The Deadly Tower of Monsters, but out of everything at Atlus's booth, it's the game I'm the most interested in. It's a self-parodying, old-school action game with lots of room to explore, and that would be firmly in my wheelhouse even before the stupid-looking aliens showed up.

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