Tower 57 is a twin-stick indie shooter developed by Pixwerk and published by 11 bit studios for Microsoft Windows.
In a cryptic world where citizens are assigned to “towers,” society is controlled by a mysterious higher power referred to as “Mother.” After taking a train to Tower 57, the place where this “Mother” resides, you embark on a mission to unravel its control. Tower 57 is a twin-stick shooter which has you fighting against giant robots, strange slimes, and limb-eating dogs. In between all of this, you’ll be upgrading your body parts, collecting various weapons, upgrading those weapons, and gambling your coins away. The final result is a game with cool audio/visuals, fun combat, and an interesting story. However, it’s unfortunately brought down by annoying bugs, little replayability, and an underwhelming ending.
The Story & Ending
At first, I was invested in the cryptic nature of Tower 57’s storytelling. Instead of telling you everything you want to know, it lets the environment speak for itself. Even when it does say things outright, it’s still cryptic. You go through almost all of the game unsure of what the hell is happening, and I like that.
However, my enjoyment of its mysterious nature quickly turned into disappointment once it ended. No spoilers, but at first I wasn’t sure if I liked or disliked the ending, because it surprised the hell out of me. After sitting on it for a while, I’m not a fan. I appreciate that the developers wanted to go for something unique, but a conclusion like that requires a lot of build up. Executing it out of nowhere feels half-baked. Even though I’m certain Pixwerk wanted it to feel unsatisfying, it’s still disappointing.
There is a secret ending, but I couldn’t figure it out. It’s even more annoying because the game traps you in the last level, so the player has no way of knowing if the ending comes from interactions on previous levels.
Combat & Upgrades – The Good
Tower 57 starts you off choosing from three of six characters, where each have a unique weapon and tool. These characters stick with you for the rest of the game, and there’s no way to change this. The weapons can vary from a shotgun to a sniper, and the tools can go from letting you freeze time to hack locked doors. You can also upgrade these guns, getting your shotgun to shoot fire bullets or your sniper to shoot bullets that bounce off of walls. Additionally, you can upgrade parts of your body which can increase your health, damage, or movement speed. With all of this, the combat is fun. It has you dashing and shooting in a generic twin-stick fashion, but the upgrades and weapons make it even more entertaining.
Combat & Upgrades – The Bad
Unfortunately, while this upgrade system is nice, it’s barren. I managed to get all of the body upgrades very quickly, there aren’t many weapons, and the game isn’t even long enough for you to have fun with the few weapons there are. Even if you decide you want to switch weapons, the more expensive ones suck. The black hole gun and buzzsaw shooter are surprisingly weak, especially for how much they’ll cost you.
Halfway through the game you’ll be stuck using the same two weapons with every upgrade you could get. It’s also hard to switch the weapon you just fully upgraded, as you’ve spent so much money on it. The game should’ve given you the ability to carry every weapon on you at a single time. This would make combat more fun too, having you execute crazy combos to combat enemies. Pixwerk also could have just made a weapons vault. This way you wouldn’t lose the weapon you worked so hard to upgrade just because you want to try a new one.
You upgrade your body and weapons with the game’s currency, which is essentially the entirety of the progression system. This would be fine if you only earned this currency from the levels, but there’s a way to get easy cash. For some reason, you can play the classic cup game where you have to find a hidden ball under a choice of cups presented to you by a shady man while wandering the streets. To call this cup game “easy” would be an understatement. It’s so exploitable that it renders the upgrade system redundant. What’s the point of a currency if I can just get thousands of coins in ten minutes by gambling? I wish cup games were this easy in real life.
Length & Replayability
While Tower 57 is fun to play, it most certainly suffers when it comes to its length and replayability. If you take your time, you can finish this game in three to four hours. If you don’t take too much time to fiddle with things, you can probably finish it in two to three hours. This wouldn’t be so bad if the game had replayability, but there’s little reason to go through it again. You’d just be playing the same game over again, with no difference from your previous experience. Perhaps the only thing that will change will be what weapons you use. It’s also silly that once you get to the last level, you cannot leave. There’s not even an option for a new game plus or to go back to the hub. It traps you in the final stage and it’s frustrating.
This may not seem so bad since the game is $11.99, but when you consider a similarly priced series like The Binding of Isaac, which take players hundreds of hours to experience everything the game has to offer, Tower 57 falls short.
Game Breaking Bugs
There are also a number of game breaking bugs that will most likely plague your experience with the title. There’s a part in the game where you’re surrounded by three red gates, and one of them is meant to be open, but when you enter, it suddenly locks. This traps you in here with no way out. Even if you use the hacking tool on the gate, it doesn’t open. I had to restart from checkpoint to fix this. Bugs like this happen quite often, unfortunately.
There’s also another smaller bug where if you get in a tank and try to hop down a level, the tank will get stuck and can’t move.
The voice acting is terrible, there’s no other way to put it. It’s so amateurish and cheesy that it’s laughable. I would understand if this game was meant to mimic old action movies, but it takes itself too seriously for this to be the case.
There are a series of sound bugs throughout the game, ones that makes it sound like my speakers are popping. For example, when you go through the red gates, the sound they make when they open and close is always ten times louder than what the game volume is set to, and the sound repeats a number of times.
The soundtrack is cool, always getting me pumped up to fight. The visuals and animations are very nice too, even though the game looks repetitive at times.
Overall, Tower 57 is a fun but heavily flawed twin-stick shooter. It has a compelling combat system which makes shooting feel satisfying. It also has a decent upgrade system, even though it’s kind of barren. The soundtrack and visuals are immersive, and the story is mysterious enough to be interesting, even though the ending is unsatisfying. If it weren’t for its short length, lack of replayability, and annoying bugs, it could’ve been much more.
- THE GOOD
- Likable Upgrade System
- Engaging Combat
- Cool Soundtrack
- Interesting Story
- Nice Visuals
- THE BAD
- Underwhelming Ending
- Exploitable Gambling
- Game Breaking Bugs
- Terrible Voice Acting
- Little Replayability
- Short Game
Tower 57 is quite flawed, but it’s fun enough to consider a decent game. If it had more content, it could’ve been much more satisfying.