'TowerFall Ascension' Tugs At The Bow Strings Of Your Heart

March 14, 2014

Simplicity sells. When you boil it down, TowerFall Ascension is a very simple game at its core: shoot your opponents with the most arrows to win. That's about it. It's amazing just how addictive this really simple gameplay can become, but on top of that, the devil is in the details, and that's where Ascension truly shines. With inspiration from games like Super Smash Bros., Bushido Blade, and Goldeneye 007, TowerFall Ascension has carved out a unique place for itself within the multiplayer market as the premiere, four-player, competitive, archery game.

Developer: Matt Makes Games
Publisher: Matt Makes Games

Matt Thorson is just a guy - a guy that makes the games that he wants to make. He isn't part of a corporation, or even a studio, Matt Makes Games is just Matt Thorson, and maybe a couple other people that he's enlisted to help him crank out some really interesting games. Prior to the OUYA launch, where the original TowerFall became one of the biggest selling points for the fledgling console, its likely that you would have only passed by Matt's stuff if you ran with the indie game crowd. However, since being shot into the spotlight, Matt has become the poster child for the modern indie games movement.

TowerFall Ascension builds on the original release, and offers a much more robust competitive arching experience. The fundamental gameplay of TowerFall remains untouched: it's a multiplayer experience, where players battle it out using bows and arrows to hunt and kill the other players. Layered on top of the core are a host of new features and additional content that rounds out the TowerFall experience, and even offers a little something for single players crowd. To flesh out this release a bit more, Thorson included new characters (the original four, plus four additional ones that can be unlocked), a handful of new arenas (50 more, for a total of 120), and a single-player/co-op quest mode. The first two are welcome pieces, but it's the last one that really rounds out Ascension, offering hours of gameplay outside of the multiplayer. This new mode should help the game appeal to a larger audience on its new platforms.

The original TowerFall made its debut as one of the OUYA's launch titles, but this upgraded version is looking to reach a larger audience by releasing on the PlayStation 4 and PCs (via Steam). If you bought the original, you won't totally miss out, since there will be an update to that release in the coming months.

Countless games have proven that virtually shooting your friends is fun, but not many have done it with arrows as the ammunition. There's something more primal and visceral about taking out one of your buddies with an arced shot from across the screen in TowerFall that other multiplayer games like Call of Duty just can't offer. Every four-player match ends up being epic, with at least one kill that's worth watching in the replay, and it's because Ascension manages to capture the essence of the great local multiplayer games of the past. While it would be nice to have an online option, not including it is bold statement that this game is meant to be played by at least two, but preferably four, people in the same room. You need to be able to see the person you just shot in the face to truly appreciate why it was such a great kill.

From a gameplay perspective, the action is fast and fluid, which helps playing "just one more game" almost addictive, with a low barrier of entry for even the most casual players. In terms of value, the inclusions of the single player modes help give the game some legs when your friends aren’t around, while helping you sharpen your skills at the same time, as an addition to the infinite amount of fun you can have with multiplayer. Overall, TowerFall is a solid package, and highlights the quality work that even the smallest of teams can produce. If you've even gotten into a shouting match with your friends over a game, beware, TowerFall Ascension is probably going to be the source of your next argument... and it's going to be totally worth it.