TowerFall: Ascension Review
When was the last time you and a friend played a game sat next to each other?
Chances are you were 14, crammed into your bedroom and chuckling as one of you grabbed the game-winning Blue Shell. You probably fell out as a result; Mario Kart kills friendships, after all.
It’s not a feature that is often used anymore. The rise of the internet saw the end of local multiplayer, but TowerFall: Ascension hopes to rebirth that glorious pastime.
Multiplayer & TowerFall: Ascension
See that’s not to say that TowerFall: Ascension’s multiplayer isn’t a bloody riot.
It is distilled fun, pure and simple. And if you have a friend to play alongside then TowerFall: Ascension is a must-have for those opportunities to just enjoy gaming at its simplest.
It’s not serious like Call Of Duty, or superfluous like the Lego games.
It’ll hark back to those clutch victories in Mario Kart, getting that final kill in a Golden Gun round of GoldenEye or shunting your mate off the table to win the tournament in Micro Machines.
TowerFall: Ascension relives the golden age of multiplayer gaming, and like all great local multiplayer experiences it does so with a very basic – yet complex – set of rules and mechanics.
It’s an archery game, basically, as your tiny avatar dashes about an arena flinging one of three arrows at up to three other opposing players.
Fired arrows can be collected from the environment – by anyone – and once you’re out you need to either evade shots until you can collect wayward arrows, or open chests for bonuses.
Laser arrows, bomb arrows, bramble arrows and even added effects like wings, a one-hit shield or invisibility can all pop out of these chests – making them valuable objectives to aim for.
And that’s really it. There’s some advanced techniques in the form of air dashes and arrow grabs, but that’s the hidden depth – the core mechanics are as pure as they come.
Which makes for some particularly epic moments.
Is TowerFall: Ascension Worth The Price?
In terms of content it’s impossible to fault TowerFall: Ascension.
There’s a wide variety of stages and while they don’t actually do too much that different from one another, it’s enough to offer up a change of scenery – something recent superlative local multiplayer game Nidhogg suffered with.
There is also a very large number of options available to tailor each match to your own needs, whether that’s setting up ‘tournament standard’ rules or just adding funky effects in to mix it up a bit – such a Big Head Mode or mirrored stages.
It’s a riotous affair, honestly, and has plenty to keep you coming back with your friends to play more without it feeling repetitive.
Single-player content is aplenty too, though by and large forgettable.
Challenges are the big focus, which pit you against the clock to strike a required number of dummies with a particular item. Meanwhile Quest Mode has you fighting off waves of enemies for a high score.
But it’s not really all that compelling, truth be told. AI combat isn’t where TowerFall: Ascension excels and though the challenges can be great at practising dem mad skillz it hardly offers much outside of a brief distraction.
The game is built around multiplayer, and that should be the reason – if any – that you buy it.
TowerFall: Ascension Review
Which makes it all the more disappointing that TowerFall Ascension doesn’t – and perhaps never will – have online multiplayer.
The developers want to keep local multiplayer shining, and that’s a noble aim – if not a sadly redundant one.
Gamers don’t avoid local multiplayer because they’re too lazy to go around to a friend’s house, but because our social lives – even outside of games – have become far more digital.
Those who grew up with local multiplayer are likely married with kids, a mortgage and a dog that needs taking for a walk. Local multiplayer just isn’t an option anymore, however much we all desperately want it to be.
Though this isn’t a criticism of TowerFall: Ascension itself – the core game is hilariously entertaining – it does hold the game back from being that must-have multiplayer experience.
Most gamers have headsets to chat with their friends, and gaming consoles make it easier than ever to gain that local multiplayer experience without actually being sat in the immediate vicinity.
It seems like an odd omission for a game so reliant on that multiplayer experience, to be honest.
Ultimately this is one of the best multiplayer games we’ve played in a long time and if you have a friend (or three) and a spare DualShock 4 (or three) then you absolutely need to get them round for a TowerFall: Ascension party.
But if your multiplayer is restricted entirely to online-only, sadly this is a game you’re going to want to overlook.
Version tested: PS4