The core TowerFall experience demonstrates the richness of simplicity. With only three basic tenets of play — movement, shooting, and dodging — this multiplayer arena celebrates the thrill of pure competition. TowerFall Ascension, coming to PS4 on March 11th, retains this fine-tuned fun while also expanding on it. A heart-pounding, co-op Quest mode has joined the fray, alongside time-based Trials that help players master the art of shooting glorious, pixelated arrows.
Quest mode, playable alone or with a partner, pits players against waves of monsters. These monsters range from scythe-wielding warriors to leaping globs of slime. Each monster poses a distinct threat to the players, but nothing compared to the threat that the two players pose to each other.
With the danger of friendly fire whizzing within every loosed arrow, part of the fun of Quest mode is keeping your partner safe. Players with an eager bowstring may find their fellow archer out of lives and unable to assist with the remainder of the wave. Smart players will divide and conquer, and stay wary of launching attacks in the direction of the other.
A partner’s arrows can be a boon, however, when played at the right moment. Players can fire arrows for their friend to pick up, leading to layers of strategy in arrow conservation and exchange. Similarly, players can plan how they distribute power-ups during the match, as treasure chests will appear to unveil extra arrows, bombs, wings, and other valuable tools of war.
But nothing beats the thrill of launching an arrow from across the arena and slaying a wandering ghost, or stomping on a floating eye from above. The design of the monsters makes each wave more exciting than the last. Slow-moving blobs give way to enemy archers that are more than capable of plucking an arrow out of the air and launching it back at the player. With a limited number of lives to survive all the waves, Quest mode is a game of high stakes and tremendous rewards.
The newly added Trials also enrich the experience, enabling solo players to better understand shooting, movement, and using a stage’s looping pathways to their advantage. Each Trial tasks the player with destroying a number of straw dummies placed throughout the stage. Destroying them under a certain time limit will unlock shiny medals. Earning the best time, of course, requires a near-miraculous execution of every stomp, every shot, and every jump, often demanding players to unleash several attacks in a single leap.
These Trials are as addictive as they are difficult. Figuring out the exact course of action is just the first step to mastering each challenge. Actually playing through the course is another thing entirely, though restarting a challenge takes less than a second and encourages players to keep trying and go for the gold.
The new Quest and Trials modes make TowerFall a more robust offering for its arrival on PS4 next week. But they only sweeten an already delicious core, in which a single arrow can make the difference between victory and defeat, and the best moments can make for rather noisy tournaments on the couch.