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E3 2017: Hands-On with Tower 57

by: Nicholas -
More On: E3 2017 Tower 57

11 bit studios, a Polish developer, is publishing a new shooter by developer Pixwerk that one could define as relatively niche for today’s market. Its title is Tower 57. Its perspective is third-person, top-down, and its animation is stylized like a retro 16-bit. The story, as far as I was told, takes place in a dieselpunk future where resources are taken up by the few, giving the majority a tough life to survive. The objective of the game is to get to the top of the titular Tower 57. It’s being attacked, and your character(s) goal is to save it. I say character(s) because Tower 57 is supposedly so tough that three characters must be selected in order to traverse the levels of the game. This is not a roguelite, however. When all characters die, they will be sent back to their most recent checkpoint.

I got to play a demo of a level in the early stages of the game.

Given the details of the story, I was reminded heavily of the film Snowpiercer, and when my character, an Abe Lincoln look-alike equipped with a flamethrower and really good kicking skills, dropped onto a train, the themes laid on even thicker. However, I was not fighting any uber-capitalists on the train, as I soon transitioned to the basement of Tower 57, where I shot up a bunch of mutant slugs and crabs that moved around and launched high damage mortar attacks at me. One of those is the one that took the life of my poor Abe Lincoln look-alike, so my next character, a gangster armed with a machine gun, took over. Pretty soon, I encountered a few mutant dogs that had the ability to rip me limb from limb. What happened was that they literally ripped my legs off, forcing me to drag myself and my bloody stumps to a vending machine where I could buy some replacement legs that looked like knights’ greaves.

For clarification, I was able to purchase said replacement legs through collecting coins dropped from the enemies I killed. Medkits, ammunition, and also replacement arms are also available for purchase through in-game currency. Medkits and ammo were scattered throughout the level.

Characters also have a special ability, called their Chaos ability, which can be used presumably after a period of charging up, and is also applicable to the characters’ design. The gangster’s Chaos ability, for instance, is to call in a drive-by on multiple enemies that deals lots of damage to their health. This came in handy when I was surrounded by those limb-ripping dogs.

The level design was neither maze-like nor linear. It did not hold my hand, but it wasn’t necessarily overly coy or clever about it either. Essentially, it was a mix of both. It was challenging to get through, but not so much that I had to ask the developers for help. At the end of the mission, I was given a look at a hub full of characters and shops. Although its function was not entirely clear from the preview, the developers said that this hub was pretty much the starting point for future missions from that point on.

In sum, what I played of Tower 57 was a chaotic but well thought out and well-paced shooter that, while unforgiving at points, was not impossible. If I remember correctly, the character roster numbered from six to eight, and there was room for co-op local play.

It's set for release around mid-to-late summer 2017.