One of the unsung heroes of the Rogue-lite FPS genre, 1001st Hyper Tower looms above you like a virginal bouldering wall every time you attempt its gauntlet. A particularly tough one, mind you. It's not exactly for Sunday drive-byers (a type of shooter, surely). This is the main deterrent people have in recommending it, but even those that it stomps, chews up, and spits out like a date pit, it seems to have a surprisingly strong grip on like a hostage situation. Rumors about The Tower still haven't reached nearly the rightful number of ears, and it's time we do sum boud diz!
After passing a passable tutorial, you will find yourself in a vestibule that randomly opens up in various directions armed with a six-shot and a one-shot (a super-close range flare gun). You may have baddies spawn in adjoining rooms, leaving no time to gain bearings. This bickery horde of jittery hombres you will not negotiate with. Missing pieces of floor and other areas of danger you will have to negotiate. You'll hope to soon come upon weapon upgrades, upgrade points, upgrade stations (for permanent effects like a third extra jump, more health, more bullet time, or one of the special attacks). There's also maps pointing you to the weapons and med dispensers. There's secret rooms, a miniboss, a big boss, with everything escalating together with your Icarian enterprise. All of this takes place in a completely destructible environment, which is something you have to learn to think in terms of, although it gets far more significant in later levels when both you and your foes pack more devastating weaponry.
This all sounds very good. There's a bucketload of enemies and weapons, mostly different for each of the four levels. The challenge is substantial but difficult to describe as anything but fair in all but one respect. There's obviously RNG in a Roguelike, and it could use a little honing here. Some spawns from "pistol start" (once you've reached one of the other levels once, it becomes unlocked in the shortcuts room but you don't get any upgrades or better weapons when taking a shortcut) are absolutely hellish, almost impossible to overcome. In fact, the biggest source of unfairness is probably the weapon spawns, and also ammo and health spawns to a lesser degree. Not only will you not always find a weapon straight away – a major nuisance when warping to later levels – not all weapons were born equal to begin with. Many of them consume a full unit of ammo, or even two, with each shot. It's difficult to make enough use of such weapons. In fact, if you want to beat the game without the frustration of running completely dry on ammunition, you're looking at either speedrunning it and taking huge risks, or keeping a weapon at hand that has good economy, some of which are, conversely, absolutely overpowered (cough cough machine guns cough cough). Luckily the starting pistol isn't actually so bad in that respect. Just in general, a pretty major balance patch would be called-for to make the most out of the otherwise very well-endowed arsenal, but it doesn't make it unplayable by any means.
The upgrades, too, should be reworked: some are next to useless. Kicking (an important way to save ammo that also stuns enemies) damages the floor in front of you, sometimes inadvertently creating a hole to stumble through. Ladders are clunky to use if you are trying to aim at something levelly to your side. You often can't shoot at a far downwards angle without the shots being deflected by your own hitbox! (That's a major nuisance, actually.) The game, which otherwise has a nice lo-poly paint on it, can't quite handle far-away surfaces and objects with the grace one would wish for – it looks a bit glitchy and you can't make out where the enemies are when they're far below or above you. But if anything will deter you from trying The Tower, it's none of these things. It's being date pitted. I did create a tutorial on how to beat the first level for the multitude of people who seemed to be stuck there. I think I'll also link this general video introduction, seeing as there isn't any footage more official than that showing the latest patch. I'm still hoping there will be another patch fixing some of these outstanding issues one day. Meanwhile, if you think you don't mind the high unadjustable difficulty, consider it your civic duty to get yourself a copy today! Two thumbs all the way up!
Reviewed by: LotBlind