The term ‘retro game’ has been somewhat overused lately when it comes to pixel art games. Tomb Towers, however, is very much a retro game. More so than it’s art style, it wears its influences very heavily on its sleeves.
A puzzle platformer with a pixel art style created by Mosaique Games, Tomb Towers has you navigating, well, different towers to find the evil necromancer. Its puzzles have somewhat of a challenge, but unfortunately it does suffer from some control issues.
(Note: This game is in Early Access, which means the game is continued to be developed on, even as this review is being written.)
A Nostalgia Trip
Tomb Towers wears its nostalgia proudly on its sleeve. Everything, from the art style, to the music, to the controls, is decidedly retro. There’s no doubt that pixel art is all the rage right now in games. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that Twin Towers maybe stuck a little too closely to its retro influences.
Having never played an MSX I didn’t have quite the nostalgic reaction playing Tomb Towers. However, the systems influence on the it is undoubtable. Specifically, The Castle. However, Tomb Towers could benefit from bringing a few more modern sensibilities to its gameplay. There’s just a bit too of that retro lag here, and it’s especially noticeable in the jumping. The fact you can change the speed of the game (slow, normal, fast) does help a little bit in that regard. But for a puzzle platformer, where precision is everything, a little more tightness in the control would’ve been nice.
Besides that, the retro art style is lovely. As common as they may be, I’m a sucker for a good 2D platformer, so I felt right at home here. The sound effects and music complemented the graphics perfectly, and the extra color made Tomb Towers feel like an upgrade of the classic adventure games of old.
A Tower-ing Challenge
Tomb Towers doesn’t have much in terms of plot, but there’s enough of an explanation as to the context of your adventure. Monsters have started showing up around the kingdom, presumably because of the necromancer. You, a brave nameless soldier, take it upon yourself to stop this evil threat once and for all.
However, that tricky necromancer is hiding, and to reach him, you’ll need to traverse different towers and their various traps and monsters. The setup is pretty simple: each room has a locked door that you’ll need to find a key to open up. Besides the keys, there are health potions and other extras you can collect in each room.
The puzzles ranged from simple to slightly challenging. There was nothing overly difficult I encountered, though I did get frustrated in certain rooms. Ultimately, however, I was able to progress through each puzzle. They ranged from simply jumping and avoiding enemies to moving crates strategically to give you an extra platform. I never felt Tomb Towers get overly repetitive, which is to its benefit. Each room seemed to have just enough differences to keep me going, and I never felt burnt out.
The Road Ahead Isn’t Impossible
No adventurer’s journey is simple. You’ll encounter some roadblocks along the way. You’ll probably die along the way. Or maybe I’m just bad at playing games. Either way, should you encounter something that prevents you from pushing ahead, fear not. This game is not looking to punish you, and it is quite simple to step back and forge ahead.
Naturally, if you die, you’ll have to traverse the whole tower again. Thankfully, though, all the rooms you previously conquered will continue to be unlocked. That means you won’t have to worry about searching for the keys again, and all collectibles will be accounted for, too. Now that means that all health potions will already have been found, too, but seeing as you would most likely won’t worry about having to solve that room’s puzzle again, avoiding enemies should be simple.
Another great feature, one that I didn’t utilize nearly enough in the beginning, is the ability to ‘reset’ each level. When you do that, it simply reverts the room’s puzzle to the way you found it, and brings you back to the beginning of the room. Mercifully, everything you collected already in the room (including keys), will still be in your possession. So if you mess up a puzzle, or want to make the level a little easier for you after finding the key, you can simply restart and be on your way.
Climbing to the Top?
Tomb Towers isn’t the most remarkable game out there, but it has its charms. It has a perfectly-executed sense of atmosphere, supplemented by its retro-influenced aesthetics. It definitely has some modern upgrades from the MSX games its influenced by, but in some cases, I would’ve liked it to modernize itself even more. An enjoyable, somewhat challenging game, Tomb Towers is most definitely a retro-inspired game. Maybe a little too much, but overall, it is a worthwhile experience. Especially since it’s in Early Access, and will continue to evolve.
As the game is in Early Access, it will likely still see some changes. The game is still incomplete, naturally, but everything missing is extra content. All of the story levels are there, plus three nightmares (aka levels offering an extra challenge). With that said, don’t worry about the ‘Early Access’ label, there’s still plenty to enjoy right now.
- THE GOOD
- Charming to play
- perfectly-executed sense of atmosphere
- THE BAD
- More modernisation is needed
Tomb Towers isn’t the most remarkable game out there, but it has its charms. It has a perfectly-executed sense of atmosphere, supplemented by its retro-influenced aesthetics. It definitely has some modern upgrades from the MSX games its influenced by, but in some cases, I would’ve liked it to modernize itself even more.