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There’s less than a week to go on the Kickstarter for Tower 57, a retro top-down shooter made by German indie developer Pixwerk. The developer is asking for €45,000 but the amount pledged currently stands at a little under €37,000.
Tower 57 is a twin-stick shooter – in the same vein as classics such as Smash TV, where character movement and aiming are controlled independently of each other – with stunning, cyberpunk-meets-1920s-themed environments created using pixel art. The story revolves around the titular Tower 57, one of many would-be utopias that are now plotting an invasion against the Ministry of Information. The player takes control of one of six characters to enter Tower 57 in order to find out and stop the invasion plans.
The gameplay places a strong emphasis on co-operative gameplay and destructible environments. The Pixwerk website describes Tower 57 as “the love child of Alien Breed and The Chaos Engine”. As someone whose favourite game was The Chaos Engine (Soldiers of Fortune in the US) when I was young, the comparisons between the two games are what first drew my eye; the top-down style, the co-op gameplay and six playable characters are all elements the two games have in common. Pixwerk even mention both The Bitmap Brothers and SNK as inspirations for Tower 57 and the game’s art style and highly destructible environments certainly bring Metal Slug to mind.
Something that stands out about Tower 57 is how clever the rules are that govern the game world and how the in-game weapons and enemies react to these rules; the Kickstarter page is stacked with animated gifs of how fire spreads, electricity arcs, swarms of enemies will find paths around obstacles automatically, etc. These rules also affect co-op gameplay; for example, enemies can be pinned to the wall by one player using a harpoon weapon but that doesn’t stop the second player from blasting away at them with a machine gun or flamethrower.
Speaking of weapons, there are a number of guns that are still in the prototype stages but the Kickstarter page shows that there are seven (currently) available. These include some rather off-the-wall and unorthodox weapons, such as a hacking tool to turn turrets and robots against each other, a gun that causes the player to switch places with their target when fired and a black hole generator, which creates a black hole to suck in everything around it (players included). Better yet, these weapons game be upgraded using money collected from killing enemies and breaking objects in the environment.
All in all, Tower 57 looks to be a very well-designed update of classic twin-stick shooters. Assuming the €45,000 Kickstarter goal is reached, I’m optimistic that it could be as entertaining as arcade-style shooters of the past.