Towerfall was the best-selling game for the Ouya, an ill-fated console from 2013. The Ouya was a Kickstarter-funded project intended to produce a console that would play Android games, with room for multiple players and real controllers. I never bought one, which is pretty much the case for the rest of the world too. I don’t have any dislike for Android games, and I actually thought this was a pretty good idea from a business perspective, but as it turns out, no one really wants to pay $100 for what is essentially a better version of phone games. Towerfall only sold about 7000 copies on the Ouya, and was later ported to XBOX and Steam under the name Towerfall Ascension, where it is doing much better.
Towerfall Ascension is a 2D pixel platformer with very tight controls. The aim of the game is to survive in various arenas against many different types of monsters, or possibly other players. I hear the multiplayer is really fun! Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone with this game, so I’m just doing the single-player stuff. You control a single archer, and your abilities include shooting arrows in 8 different directions, jumping, and dashing. You start each fight with 2-3 arrows, so you have to go pick them up if you want to use them again. The arrows have homing properties, allowing for snap shots made while dodging enemies. In general you can fire somewhere towards an enemy and kill them with hope. There’s a few different kinds of arrows, including drills that go through walls, and bomb arrows.
The movement in this game is very smooth and free; you can jump off walls, there’s no momentum so you can be very precise, and falling off the bottom of the screen drops you in from the top, allowing you to goomba-stomp things to death. This is often the best method of attack, because you can save your precious arrows for more important enemies. It’s also really fun to chain together head stomps on easy enemies, like the slimes. However, you have to be careful not to allow yourself to be stomped by an enemy.
The dash move is actually more of a defensive tool than a movement tool, as it confers a short period of immunity to some attacks, and causes you to catch any arrows that would hit you. It’s an important reflex to hone against enemy archers and other players. There’s a special feeling of pure skill when you dash into an enemy, catch their arrow, and shoot them with your own. The dash isn’t perfect, there’s a few things that can kill you, but for the most part it’s a good reaction to becoming overwhelmed.
There isn’t a lot of content in Towerfall for single player, but what exists is challenging and fun. Every enemy has a different movement and attack pattern, and you’ll need to learn what works best against all of them, especially if you want to take on the hardmodes. Every stage has an easy and hard version, and the hard versions can be really merciless, with long waves of tough enemies. However, most stages won’t last much longer than 6 minutes either way, so it’s easy to lose and get right back into the action. I’ve lost a lot of time unexpectedly this way.
The art for this game is well-crafted pixel art. If you aren’t tired of pixels yet, definitely take a look at this stuff. I’m not artist, but I like what I see. The music is good too. I don’t think any of it is so memorable that I will listen to it for fun later, but it works well in the game. All in all, TowerFall Ascension gets most of my praise for its controls and fun gameplay. There’s not too much game here, but what exists is polished to perfection. Thanks for reading.