Tow­erFall: As­cen­sion

PS4

EDGE - - PLAY - Pub­lisher/de­vel­oper Matt Makes Games, Inc For­mat PC (ver­sion tested), PS4 Re­lease Out now

Tow­erFall: As­cen­sion is an up­roar­i­ous sin­gle-screen mul­ti­player brawler that dif­fer­en­ti­ates it­self from all the other up­roar­i­ous sin­gle-screen brawlers re­leased of late with its fo­cus on pre­ci­sion, its clear vis­ual de­sign, and the strict econ­omy of am­mu­ni­tion built into its chief mode of com­bat: archery.

Each player be­gins the round with three ar­rows, which are a per­sis­tent part of the game­world. Ar­rows lodged in corpses or the en­vi­ron­ment can be re­trieved by any­body, and this makes care­less shoot­ing risky. The pur­suit of ar­rows also en­sures that play­ers keep mov­ing; de­spite a fo­cus on ranged com­bat, this isn’t a game where camp­ing is es­pe­cially vi­able.

Your moveset in­cludes wall-jump­ing, ledge grab­bing, and a mid-air dodge. It’s pos­si­ble to dodge in eight di­rec­tions, mean­ing that it can be used like a dou­ble jump as well as to evade pro­jec­tiles. Cru­cially, dodg­ing an in­com­ing ar­row at the pre­cise mo­ment it reaches you al­lows you to snatch it out of the air, adding fur­ther depth to four­player duels and pro­vid­ing op­tions when fac­ing ar­row-spew­ing mon­sters in twoplayer co-op.

The only way to kill a dodg­ing op­po­nent is to leap onto their heads. Even ar­row-less foes are dan­ger­ous at close range, and this in turn en­cour­ages a race for the high ground. Maps wrap around – play­ers leav­ing from one side will reap­pear at the screen’s op­po­site edge – and there­fore drop­ping off the bot­tom of the screen is po­ten­tially a way to quickly turn a dis­ad­van­ta­geous po­si­tion into a more ad­van­ta­geous one.

The draw­back of this sys­tem is that it is con­fus­ing. Watch­ing the sides of the map is just as im­por­tant as watch­ing the area im­me­di­ately around your char­ac­ter, and this can dif­fuse your fo­cus in a way that plays against the game’s great­est strength – the com­plex in­ter­ac­tions be­tween ar­rows and play­ers that oc­curs at close range. It does not ul­ti­mately pre­vent ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers from en­joy­ing the game, but early on the frus­tra­tion can dull Tow­erFall’s lus­tre.

This may be the age of the sin­gle-screen brawler, but Tow­erFall is among the most fea­ture-rich of its kind. Three mul­ti­player modes are avail­able, in­clud­ing team death­match. Its twoplayer co-op, which re­pur­poses mul­ti­player maps as wave-sur­vival chal­lenges, also func­tions as a chal­leng­ing sin­gle­player score-at­tack game. Then there’s the deep well of archery chal­lenges avail­able to play­ers who are seek­ing to fully mas­ter Tow­erFall’s me­chan­ics. The lack of on­line mul­ti­player means that those who can’t gather a group of friends in front of their screen will miss out on the game’s best fea­ture, but Tow­erFall still does an ad­mirable job of pro­vid­ing plenty to do in its ab­sence.

In co-op, each monster has its own be­havioural pat­terns and set of vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties. These harpies, for ex­am­ple, are able to de­flect your first ar­row with a whirl­wind, forc­ing you to use two in suc­ces­sion to beat them

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