[Review] Towertale – Nintendo Switch

Written by Abbi Smith
  • Developer: MiSou Games
  • Publisher: Keybol Games
  • Release Date: 08/04/2020
  • Price: £7.99 / $9.99
  • Review code provided by Keybol Games

Introducing: Towertale Switch Review

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Towertale, being a story-driven boss-rush style game, but I found a very fun and interesting experience that has plenty of replayability for a very low price! I did have to get my partner to take over more often than I’d like to admit though – it’s definitely a good game, but I’m not very good at it!

Will you face The Tower, and change your fate?

“The Tower.” A relatively unremarkable name for an incredibly unique structure around which a certain legend has spawned; if you can reach the top, you will be granted the ultimate wish – the ability to change your fate.

Towertale joins four very different characters, with four very different motivations, as they each tackle the legendary Tower in the hopes of earning a wish. There’s the Blue Lion Lionel, the Crimson Archer Faindrel, the Green Mage Lord Snicklefritz, and the mysterious “Dark Echo.” The story intertwines between the four, and there’s even a separate story for co-op mode!

I can’t go into much detail about the story without spoiling things, but I have to say it was brilliantly thought out, cohesive, and incredibly interesting, to the point that I caught my partner lingering in the room so he could learn more.

Who Needs Lackeys?

Towertale is a 2D action game designed around boss-rushing – you don’t face any lackeys on a floor, only the boss. It’s a very simple concept, but the use of the different characters really spices the game up. For each character you’ll face the same series of bosses, but each character has a completely different play style – Lionel is a warrior, Faindrel is an archer, Lord Snicklefritz is a mage and “Dark Echo” is a rogue. 

The controls themselves are very simple, but your attack methods vary between characters. I definitely preferred playing on my Pro controller, as one of the attack buttons is the left shoulder which gets a little fiddly if you play handheld and in a case. I would have liked to be able to swap the controls around a bit, but they are relatively easy to get used to, aided by a useful intro to each character before you start their story run.

The bosses themselves were wonderfully diverse; from the pretty predictable Minotaur to the utterly bonkers Lightning Samurai, and even the completely confusing Goblin, every floor required a different strategy for each character. You really have to think on your toes! There was one level in particular, against a giant golem, that I could only beat using Faindrel. My partner had to take over that particular fight with all of the other characters because even though I knew what it was about to throw at me, I just wasn’t quick enough to get out of the way.

There is also a variety of modes to play, but I’d recommend playing the story before you even think about touching them – it’s so rewarding to be fed snippets of the story after you’ve beaten each boss!

Silky Smooth and Gloriously Arcade-y

The simple style of Towertale really works in its favor. The character graphics are almost a cutesy, chibi style that really enhance the size and threat of the various bosses. The colour palette is beautifully vivid, with every floor background having a completely different aesthetic but still bursting with colour and detail, without detracting from the action in the foreground. There’s one gross, oozing mess of a level that did a great job of making me imagine the smell just from how it looked – thanks for that! 

The sound design really emphasises the mood of every conversation, cutscene, and battle. The thoroughly upbeat battle track almost had me playing in time with the tune, while some of the emotional cutscenes had me on the verge of tears with the raw sadness of the accompanying music. The lack of voice acting meant my partner and I sat voicing over the characters ourselves, which added a cooperative amusement and would definitely be fun to do with the family.

I tried it in both handheld and docked and, while I infinitely preferred docked, it ran like a dream regardless. The controls did feel a little odd in handheld, as mentioned earlier, but they responded just as well as with the Pro controller. I think it’s the almost arcade-y vibe of the game that made it feel much more natural on the TV. Towertale wouldn’t be out of place at a seaside arcade, though it would probably have a line out of the door!

I learned that I’m not as good at games as I thought I was!

This game kicked my backside forwards, backwards, up, down, and inside out. I only had it on novice difficulty, as opposed to Normal or Hard, but even then my partner had the controller for almost half of the game. There are no grunts to practise on, nothing to help you train for a particular boss’ tactics. All you can do just relentlessly charge against each multi-stage boss and hope you learn enough before dying to get a bit further the next time.

I admit, I rage-quit a few times, but I always came back. Rather than being frustratingly hard, as some games are (looking at you, Dark Souls!), I felt more driven to complete a level every time it beat me. I’d put the controller down, go make a fresh cup of tea, then come back and tackle it again, normally with an “I will beat you this time, you little blighter” attitude. While it is a very fun game, I’d recommend keeping an eye on your kids if they play it – I can definitely see some controller-throwing happening after a death caused by one tiny half-second of misfortune.

There are some Assist functions available from the menu once you’re in the game, but I refused to use them as a matter of principle. They may be useful for younger or struggling players though, as there are options which include adjusting the starting health of both heroes and monsters.

Hard, but so much fun!

I’m not one to come back to games after finishing them once, but I can definitely see Towertale getting pulled out for a good co-op run next time we have a Switch night! If you’re after a fun and challenging action game I can’t recommend it enough, but make sure you’re in a high-tolerance mindset before delving into The Tower or you might find your controller on the other side of the room.

Pros

  • Addictive
  • Challenging
  • High replayability

Cons

  • Novice difficulty is still very difficult
  • Custom controls would have been a welcome feature

Verdict
Fun and challenging, but have your patient hat on!
4.5/5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *