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The Deadly Tower of Monsters Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Although the gameplay is a bit repetitive and the camera controls are non-existent, The Deadly Tower of Monsters proves to be worth your time for the style and story alone. I laughed from beginning to end and was wowed by the late game plot twists. If you grew up loving cheesy B-rate movies, then there's a lot to like in Dick Starspeed's video game debut. Rating: 78%
The Deadly Tower of Monsters
The Deadly Tower of Monsters The Deadly Tower of Monsters The Deadly Tower of Monsters The Deadly Tower of Monsters
  • Review Score:

  • B+
Thanks to Joel, Crow, Tom Servo and the rest of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew, I grew up loving cheesy creature features from the paranoid 1950s. With their low-budget effects, questionable acting decisions and silly monsters, I couldn't help but fall under their spell. The Deadly Tower of Monsters uses this nostalgia for schlocky science fiction to create a riotously funny action game that perfectly captures the spirit of those B-rate classics.

Developed by the same team that brought you Rock of Ages and Zeno Clash, The Deadly Tower of Monsters is the name of a fictional sci-fi movie from director Dan Smith. He's been brought in by the studio to record a commentary track for the brand new anniversary DVD, which gives us an excuse to experience the wacky hijinks of Dick Starspeed as he attempts to survive the tallest tower you'll ever see.

Things get off to a rocky start when our hero is shot down and crash lands on an alien planet filled with every B-rate monster you can think of (and even a few you've forgotten). In order to stay alive, Dick teams up with a cocksure lass named Scarlet Nova, who just so happens to be the daughter of the evil Emperor. Little does Dick know that he's about to get caught up in a life and death struggle against this nefarious ruler and his eccentric accomplice, Dr. Peculiar.

Every element of The Deadly Tower of Monsters feels like it came directly from Mystery Science Theater 3000's back catalog. The weapons are little more than repurposed household objects, the backdrops are clearly hobbled together sets and you can see the strings holding everything up. There are no fancy CGI effects here, just good old fashioned stop-motion dinosaurs, dogs stuffed into vacuum cleaners, electricity monsters painted on each frame of the film and the obligatory men in robot suits. And to help sell the effect, time has distorted the colors and warped the quality.

Apart from the style, The Deadly Tower of Monsters plays out like a fairly typical action/brawler. Players can choose between three characters and a whole host of cheesy science-fiction themed weapons. Each hero goes into battle with both guns and melee weapons, both mapped to different buttons. As we make our way up what seems like a never-ending skyscraper, each character learns unique abilities that will help them get through the game's minor puzzle sections. The rest is just bashing the enemies until they die and using your rocket pack to survive huge falls.

The Deadly Tower of Monsters (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The camera is posted overhead, always looking down at our hero. This makes it nearly impossible to know how tall the tower actually is, but offers a dizzying view of what's below that is sure to set off your acrophobia. This also allows for moments when Dick, Scarlet or The Robot will need to take aim at the spaceships and pterodactyls attacking from below. I like the way the game plays with the verticality of the tower.

Hey, remember that schlocky director I mentioned earlier? Well, he provides a running commentary throughout most of the game. Even before you start the adventure, Dan is grumbling about box art and the recording conditions. As the events unfold, he sheds light on all the behind-the-scenes stories and conflicts between the cast. He pulls back the curtain to reveal the slapdash monster designs and all the cuts he had to make due to logistical problems. Dan discusses the injuries on set and how extras were treated back in the good old days.

While a lot of Dan's musings are used for comedic effect, the seemingly random thoughts do help color the story in unexpected ways. It also gives us a chance to mock a lot of the jarringly outdated notions that came from that era of Hollywood. The writers have a lot of fun lampooning the blatant sexism of the 1950s and '60s, as well as the political struggles involved just to get a movie made. Dan is not a great director, and his inability to take ownership over even the small problems leads to some truly inspired commentary.

The Deadly Tower of Monsters (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

There's an argument to be made that the brilliance of Dan's audio track overshadows the shallow gameplay mechanics. I found myself wanting to spend more time listening to his stories than actually fighting monsters. But even if the action is a bit repetitive, it's worth sticking it out for the story. Very few games stick the landing as well as The Deadly Tower of Monsters. Sure, the combat could have used more depth, but it's worth the price of admission alone for the final act.

Beyond the barebones gameplay, I was also disappointed with some of the visuals. I love the look of the monsters and a lot of the style, but wish the overhead graphics were more exciting. The camera is pulled back a little too far and I wish there was a way to zoom in to look at the details. Speaking of which, the player doesn't have much control over the camera, leading to far too many situations where I couldn't tell what I was running towards.

But even as I fought with the cameras and yearned for more involving combat, I couldn't help but fall in love with the style and story. I laughed constantly from beginning to end and was floored by the final act. The developers find a way to throw every cheesy monster and creature feature cliche into this four hour action game. The Deadly Tower of Monsters probably won't be anybody's "Game of the Year," but it's a whole lot better than the movies it's mocking.
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