Review by Iyamtebist

"Adventure in the Tower of Awesomeness"

I've lost count of the amount of times I brought up Steam's factory produced retro platformers at the start of these reviews. As such, I'm going to say nothing further than that Adventure in the Tower of Flight is awesome. I loved just about every second of this game, even in its more frustrating moments. The only thing that keeps this game from a perfect score is that it isn't the most original and that its controls take a bit of getting used to. Other than that though, this game is highly recommended.

Tower of Heaven

Our storyline in Adventure in the Tower of Flight is nothing more than an excuse plot involving you trying to climb a tower that no one ever reached the top of, so I do not even feel the need to go over it. Instead, I will talk about the presentation of the game first. The graphics are done in a retro style that admittedly would not be that impressive on the NES. However, I will give it credit that it looks like something that could at least be from a good NES game and isn't just a pixilated blob.

The backgrounds all provide a very majestic feeling and each section of the tower feels unique. The enemy designs all give off a unique feeling to them and seem like they fit into the world of the game despite there being not much of a plot to this game to begin with. Adventure in the Tower of Flight deserves major props for managing to give off an atmospheric feeling to this game with so little story.

This is enhanced even further by the game's breathtaking soundtrack. Every song in this game is amazing and gives off a separate feeling to it. I also need to give credit to how these chiptunes actually sound like what would be in an NES game. However, this is also subverted to great effect the further one goes up the tower where some songs start to incorporate actual instruments into them, similarly to the soundtracks of Final Fantasy the 4 Heroes of Light and Undertale.

In general, Adventure in the Tower of the Flight does not feel like just another retro cash in. It instead feels like a hidden gem that could have actually been from that era, yet it never feels like it is a clone of any specific game.

One of the first things that one will notice about Adventure in the Tower of Flight is its controls; specifically its keyboard controls. Supposedly there is controller compatibility with the game, but there seemed to have been an issue preventing me from using it. As such, I can only go based on the keyboard controls. At first, the controls will be difficult to get used to. The reason for this is because one will need to hold down the space bar with their left index finger to jump/fly while using your ring finger to to press the z button to attack or your middle finger to use a dash attack.

This is not a problem for some normal movements, but there will be points where it will require serious concentration in order to perform complex maneuvers under pressure. However, this actually adds a bit of thinking to the game where one will need to put in thought to how they approach certain obstacles and take things slowly. With the exception of one specific room towards the halfway point of the game, there isn't a single area of the game that I'd say was not designed with this approach in mind, and Adventure in the Tower of Flight is a game that rewards the player for thinking as opposed to succumbing to Leyroy Jenkins syndrome.

What is also nice is just how Adventure in the Tower of Flight introduces its mechanics. Most games would generally have invasive tutorials that explain their mechanics to you. However, in this game, they are taught to you via the gameplay. For example, when you get the shield, you are given obstacles that require you to use the shield to block simple projectiles in order to progress, as opposed to being interrupted to explain the obvious like that joke tutorial in Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon.

In addition to this, the game also introduces upgrades at a smooth pace and requires you to make good use of them before giving you another one. For example, the battle against the giant blob would have been pathetically easy if you had the arrows by the time you reach it, but you don't get them until afterwards, at which point they are more so moderately useful but also require some strategy to be made useful.
For example, in certain boss battles, there are multiple ways to approach damaging the boss efficiently. You could just fire a bunch of arrows at them rapidly, but that will require some tricky maneuvering with the controls and you will mainly be flying only vertically in place. You could try using the dash attack but sometimes it can be hard to get off correctly. Lastly there is charging up a sword slice which does the most damage, but also leaves you at risk with colliding with an enemy and taking contact damage if you don't attack from the right location.

Despite all of this, there is still a chance that nearly every obstacle and every enemy can be beaten on the first try if the player is good enough, and there are no beginners traps except for one room in the game. The only real gameplay flaw is in the items usages where things such as a powerup that makes you invincible for 15 seconds is automatically activated after you purchase it, and a revive potion is automatically activated instead of allowing you to choose when you want to use it, which removes some strategy elements

Conclusion

What is nice is just how the game does not hold the player's hand throughout the game. Adventure in the Tower of Flight is a hard game, but it offers a fair challenge, which is rare in games. Most of the time, challenge comes from artificial aspects such as check point starvation, limited continues, or beginners traps. There is none of this in Adventure in the Tower of Flight. Adventure in the Tower of Flight may look manageable from the outside looking in, but when played on one's own, it's not as easy as it looks.

I had a lot of fun with Adventure in the Tower of Flight, and it is definitely one of the few times I saw a retro throwback that nails everything about retro games perfectly, even more so than some retro games themselves. In addition to that, the game is just addictive and I found myself constantly in that “okay one more try” kind of mood every time I died until I finished the whole thing within the span of a few days.

It is highly recommended that you check out Adventure in the Tower of Flight, as it is quite the underrated game when it comes to Steam's library of retro “throwbacks” and it is the perfect thing to recommend to those who have been hoping to find something that doesn't miss the point of retro games, or that isn't exactly like the to a fault.


Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/22/16

Game Release: Adventure in the Tower of Flight (US, 07/03/15)

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