TowerFall Ascension Should Be In Your Gaming Library

If you were born into what we like to call the Golden Age of video games, you should have numerous memories competing against your friends. Now before you say that’s what we’ve been doing for decades, let me add this caveat. The competition happened under the same roof on the same couch.

Towerfall Ascension has pulled at my nostalgia strings harder than any game since the boom of online gaming. It’s a masterfully crafted experience that will have you shouting and laughing as you battle against 3 of your buds in an archery battle royale.

Towerfall Ascension pits up to four archers against one another in an arena-styled one-screen battle royale. Jump, dodge, shoot, and catch your way to victory while maneuvering around a seemingly endless amount of power-ups and hazards. Bomb arrows, ricocheting laser arrows, and bramble arrows which spawn dangerous thorns are examples of things that can brighten or darken your day at a moment’s notice.

Last week, Yoshyaes covered a game in Don’t Starve Together that has been out for quite some time. Now it’s my turn to review a recent addition to the Average Gamer library. Let’s dive into the hidden gem that is TowerFall Ascension!

Die Another Day

Towerfall Ascension could be compared to a Super Smash Brothers-esque experience. Most notably, you can compete against one another in a battle mode free-for-all.

The game also provides a “story mode” where you progress through increasingly challenging levels to clear our several baddies. This can be done as a solo mission or with one friend.

There aren’t really cut scenes or dialogue, but there are bosses and each level gets more difficult. I’ve only gone through it on Normal difficulty and it gave me some trouble.

TowerFall Map
The levels are scattered across this world

Finally, the game offers a single-player trial mode where you race against the clock to break a handful of targets. This is a great way to improve your mechanics without worrying about someone shooting back at you.

Returning to the battle mode, customization options offered may paralyze you. Almost everything about the game can be altered.

You can change the types of arrows that are available to be picked up. Changing the physics of the game and having homing arrows active (by default) or deactivate is also possible. Start with only 1 arrow? Done. Start with 0 arrows?! Go for it.

This is the type of customization I ask for in most games and unfortunately, most games miss the target. Not Towerfall, though. You can really craft your own house rules game that will play differently from the standard rules.

Is that … Robin Hood?

Before you can enter the arena you must choose which avatar will best represent you. Best distinguished their color, but also expertly named, the archers range from the pink Assassin Prince to the green Vigilante Thief. The latter definitely gives Robin Hood vibes.

TowerFall Archers
Is that Robin Hood’s twin sister?

Recently, I discovered this game has unlockable characters, in addition to the ones from the expansion game. Some can be unlocked through simple progression through the “story mode”. Others may need to be discovered via the Trials game mode.

It’s important to note that these archer selections are strictly cosmetic. Archer specific powers or abilities are absent as the game has enough dynamics to keep you busy for years.

That said, my new main is about to be the yellow Forgotten Master whom I recently unlocked. So don’t pick him before me.

Power-ups, anyone?

I’ve already alluded to this game having amazing power-ups. Usually accessed via chests, these power-ups can really make each gameplay feel unique. Not only that, each level (or tower, as the game calls them) offers a different challenge

In addition to the suped up arrows, there are also arrows that drill their way through the terrain and arrows that fly extremely quickly through the air.

Shields can be collected that grant you an additional “hit” before dying in a particular round. The game will even handicap trailing players to start with a shield if a lead grows too large. This setting can be turned off if you don’t believe in evening the playing field.

Finally, there are several orbs that trigger different events in the tower. One orb will generate lava at the top and bottom of the screen. Another orb can grant you virtual invisibility making your opponents oblivious to your location. There’s even orbs that slow down all the action or cause a scrolling effect to disorient everyone in the tower!

The Most Important Part

As much as I’ve raved about the game, so much would be for naught if the gameplay sucked. Thankfully (and probably obviously since I’m writing this review), I am pleased to say it doesn’t suck.

The game is fluid and responsive. There are never issues where you think the game screwed you. If you do feel that way, the replay system usually clears up any confusion right away.

Because the game is so reactionary and relies on precision and timing, this is a local-multiplayer game only. Meaning, you can’t compete against your friends over the net.

Lag-related latency would take away from the experience in such a dog eat dog game. The developers made an executive decision to omit online from the game.

For some, this can be a deal-breaker. Not all of us live close enough to 3 willing victims, ahem, competitors. The “story mode” will only hold your interest for so long. This is a similar dilemma from which the first Super Smash Bros suffered. 

You can’t replace the experience of playing against 3 opponents with heartbeats. Some friends may be super aggro, while others may try to hide and “third-party” a confrontation to get the upper hand.

Bots are just bots. (Side Bar – the only time I’ve seen bots really take on personalities was in N64’s Perfect Dark. It’s been over 2 decades and I still haven’t seen this type of programming)

Buy It. Today.

Even if I haven’t convinced you yet, go and see for yourself anyway. TowerFall Ascension is a fairly cheap game $15 on the PlayStation Store right now.

It’s available on all platforms but doesn’t have crossplay. Just in time for the holiday season so you can beat up on your visiting cousins.

It’s an easy-to-learn game that everyone in the family can enjoy. With all the customization and handicap options, everyone will be laughing and enjoying themselves. 

For those of you who have played TowerFall Ascension before, let us know if we are lying in the comments! Lastly, check out The Game Grumps crew playing the game in the video below!

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