The Deadly Tower of Monsters is a top-down shooter developed by ACE Team in which you play as an astronaut named Dick Starspeed as he crash lands on an alien planet where a tyrannical emperor lives on top of a tower and spreads fear all along the land. Along the way, Dick meets the daughter of the emperor and soon after his robot friend and team up to climb the tower and eliminate the emperor. But what is really happening is that the entire game was really a 70s cheesy sci-fi movie and the entire time the director is giving commentary about filming the movie.
Going a little deeper into the story, director Dan Smith made a movie in the 70s called "The Deadly Tower of Monsters." The story involves Dick Starspeed and his robot companion named Robot crash landing onto an alien planet called Gravoria. He loses Robot and is out on his own helping good apes while killing bad ones. He soon meets Scarlet Nova who leads him to taking down her tyrannical father. Soon after, he finds Robot and the three embark upon a quest to end the tyranny.
After a couple of decades, the movie has now been put onto DVD, and the director is called back to his old film to give commentary on the film.
Having that cheesy 70s vibe allowed the game to be stylish, hilarious, and unique. In terms of graphics and art style, this game knocks it out of the park like no other. Whether it be the grainy camera, the use of vibrant colors, or my favorite, the claymation enemies that have choppy movements like any old claymation move, this game makes looking bad look so good. But what really shines is how cheesy, low-budget, and messed up the movie and its production was. This isn't just a 70s sci-fi flick, it's a 70s cheesy, low-budget sci-fi flick. And it shows from different gameplay mechanics to the commentary heard from the director. This game got me laughing and smiling from beginning to end with how messed up and bad the movie is.
The director's commentary is the funniest part of the game and the writing for it was brilliant. Whether it be not paying actors and not putting them in the credits, not even being there directing for big portions of the movie, forgetting the entire last part of the film, and so much more, Dan Smith talked a lot about the film, and it never tired on me. But its not just the director's commentary that was hilarious and made the game better. The movie itself also had a lot of hilarious flaws. Obvious guard rails, cutscenes that have different characters than who you were playing with, enemies that had cheap costumes, overused sound effects like the Wilhelm scream, dialogue boxes that were originally put there because the movie was going to be silent but isn't and the crew were too lazy to take them out, and I can never forget the final boss fight which I won't spoil but really shows how funny the game is. Also, the sheer amount of 4th wall breaks made the game that much better. Whether it be the changing of the main menu's character stances and Smith commentating on that, adding a trade mark to "Deadly Tower of Monsters" inside the dialogue box, smudge marks on the screen near light, or having one of the character's special weapons be a pair of scissors to cut off the line holding the enemies in midair. This game is pure hilarity that I haven't experienced in any other games.
But now let's get into the game part. And even with all of that writing, the game still proves to be a blast to play. The different abilities and weapons you get to use are varied and a lot of fun to use. The many different enemies both look and feel great as they all feel different from one another. The ability to go wherever you want on the tower as long as you have unlocked the point was appreciated, as for it allowed me to go back and work on achievements, which unlock passive skills in the game. Funny mechanics that go with the flaws of the movie are also fun to use, like blocking a blast wave or using the whip by swinging it above your head because you were not trained on how to use a whip. One of the cooler mechanics in the game was vertically shooting. This involves shooting over the ledge at enemies below before they come up to your level. But what took the cake for me was the ability to teleport mid-fall to back to where you jumped off. I had some times where I accidentally fell of the tower, and the ability to go back fixed what would be a frustrating experience. I had a lot of fun with the gameplay, but it had its flaws as well. These flaws being that the game was too short and too easy. I only died once and that was due to carelessness. The game gives you too much health and pits you against enemies that don't do a lot of damage. The other problem I had with the game is that it took only four hours for me to complete. I wasn't mad about the four hours because I felt ripped off, I was mad about the four hours because I wanted to experience more of the game and more of this flawed mess of a movie.
Luckily, their is a survival mode to play after you beat the game. This pits you against wave after wave of enemies as you try to survive on a small circular platform that is constantly trying to hurt you as certain panels of the platform damage you. After each wave, you teleport back to another platform where various weapon, abilities, and consumables await for purchase. Unlike the main game, survival mode is met with a surprising amount of difficulty. This is a great additive to the game that keeps you in fighting all of these strange cheap enemies that much longer.
When it comes to the sounds, the audio is great in one aspect and eh in the other. The music in the game is stellar and matches well with the game. The music gives an "exploration of the stars" feel to the game, but still sounds like it belongs in a 70s sci-fi movie. The music made me feel like I was in Tomorrowland at Disneyland, and having that feeling while playing this game was a blast. But what is really cool is that both for the music and the camera, the game offers an old and a new version. The old is meant to look and sound like a movie on a VHS tape while the new is meant to sound remastered for DVD. Having that option was neat, and the differences can be seen. I decided to have the VHS option on both video and music because I wanted the true b-movie vibe, but if you hate having that, then the other option is available as well. What part was lacking in the audio is the voices. I thought the voiced themselves were fine, but for some weird reason, all of the voices sounded doubled. The time between the dialogue was very short, so I could hear voices fine. But I could still hear the doubled voices just enough to the point that it annoyed me.
The verdict: Despite difficulty and length being weaker aspects of the game, the fun gameplay mixed with the hilarious vibe of a terrible sci-fi makes The Deadly Tower of Monsters fun and unique. If you are looking for a fun top-down game, a funny nostalgia trip, or just a unique style on a game, then Dead Tower of Monsters is for you.