Towerfall Ascension Ascends (By Which I Mean It’s Out Now)

By Graham Smith on March 12th, 2014 at 6:00 pm.

Who would have guessed games would still look this amazing?

One day, all our jobs will crowdsourced into non-existence. For now, it’s just Steam Reviews doing it to the likes of me. For example, on the Steam page for Towerfall: Ascension, one Eric Raue writes that it is, “a masterclass example of intentional game design. Nothing feels out of place or missing. The controls and pacing have been fine tuned to create the best possible experience.” There’s no truer statement to be written about the local multiplayer 2D arrow-shooter.

There are only equally as true statements. Like “Towerfall: Ascension is out now” and “there’s an animated launch trailer below.”

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This apparently only has 54 views, which makes me a little sad. Is it because you’re all too busy playing the game? I hope so. Shaking against the slow decline of my marketplace value and personal sense of self-worth, I wrote my own review of Towerfall: Ascension. It’s maybe my favourite game of 2014 so far, thanks to its careful springy physics, the four-second bursts of mastery it allows you to display even after only a short while playing it, and because of the fun of passing around a controller to play its two-player co-op mode with a group of friends.

I even illustrated my review with GIFs. I have to raise my game somehow if I’m to stop myself from becoming completely redundant.

Go watch more Towerfall videos and decide if it’s a thing you need in your life.

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29 Comments »

  1. Machinations says:

    ..and the lack of online will make it like the old saying:
    ‘If a Towerfalls and no-one is online to hear it, does it make a sound?’

  2. araczynski says:

    multiplayer and pixels, topped off with flappy bird ‘gameplay’ lengths. yeah, my idea of junk.

    • benexclaimed says:

      Dumb.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Don’t worry! You can still watch the latest unreal demo by yourself, on a retina display, and all will be good. I’ll invite some friends and play this over a few beers.

    • Shooop says:

      It’s really not fair to compare this game to Flappy Bird. Samurai Gun would be a much better comparison.

  3. Premium User Badge Norskov says:

    Looking forward to playing it. I love that indies are starting to embrace couch multiplayer and I really hope the trend continues.

    • Machinations says:

      Couch multiplayer has always been around. High speed, low latency connections have not.

      Couch multiplayer is great and all, but like most adults, my geographically spread out circle of gaming friends – I even have some in the UK!! – simply does not allow me to get ‘couch’ coop going anything more than once in a blue moon.

      What is indisputable, is that this game would have sold (oodles) better with online MP, and wouldn’t have affected those who like ‘couch’ coop, one bit. Sometimes in saving a penny we are pound foolish.

      Anyway, colour me disappointed, as it’s dropped right off my ‘to buy’ list.

      • Premium User Badge Norskov says:

        Couch multiplayer games for PC has been few and far between the last couple of years, but it’s starting to turn now.

        I understand your problem, as I was in the exact same position until lately, but some games just doesn’t work as well online as they do in a couch setting.

        I agree that the game would have sold better with online multiplayer, but adding an online mode might have conflicted with the developers vision for the game, and probably resulted in a very different game. See this opinion piece by Bennett Foddy.

        • Machinations says:

          No, sorry, I don’t accept this fallacious argument. Money was the only obstacle to making good netcode. There is nothing mythical about local coop – its just easy, and I am more than tired of outlandish reasons why it is a good thing.

          There are few games that require the person be sitting next to you physically to enjoy. Might there be some latency? In some scenarios, yes – but that’s no excuse for not including online at all.

          It is absolutely unquestionable that without online this will (unfortunately) not be a hit. Had I been the producer, I would have pulled out all the stops to get online in – even a delay of a year or more. Really bad decision, honestly.

          Edit: In fact, the more that I think about it, some resourceful person is going to reverse-engineer this and implement the trivial amount of code required for barely-functional online MP. And suddenly, maybe helped by a Steam sale, this will sell like hotcakes.

          Forgive my tone, I am tired of reading overwrought arguments about how towerfall’s ‘unique’ design makes it impossible to implement netcode, when that’s about as believable as the Shadowrun Returns devs not wanting manual saves – while really they were unable to figure out Unity save states.

          Disclaimer: I work optimizing networks for latency-sensitive applications like video and audio; so the illogic is even more evident to me.

          • lomaxgnome says:

            There’s no real indication that online multiplayer makes anything sell like hotcakes. Quite the opposite, indie games that depend on online multiplayer tend to die a painful death struggling to get players (ask the devs of Gun Monkeys). If this game is fun for what it is, it doesn’t need to try to be something else. I’m sure games like this hope the Steam Machines will make pc games more livingroom friendly, and remember, this game was originally for Ouya, a livingroom device. But the evidence for your assertion that online multiplayer will create sales just isn’t backed by real data.

            Also, the devs of Shadowrun never said they didn’t want save anywhere, they said they didn’t have the resources at the time to make it work. They were quite open about it, and clearly made it a priority to include with the expansion. Other people may have claimed the game was better not having it (though I rarely heard that argument), but it certainly wasn’t one the devs made.

          • aldrenean says:

            Thank you for saying this… I have read so many arguments about couch play being central to the design of Towerfall. It’s complete bullshit, and almost all of the “magic” of couch play is captured just by being on VOIP with friends you know well.

            I still think the game will do well on PS4, but the PC sales are going to be pitiful, and probably mostly composed of people who didn’t realize the game was local-only before buying.

            To lomaxgnome: There is a huge difference between *depending* on online play and *including* it. Nidhogg is a great example of this: definitely best local, because of the lag, but still amazingly fun even with 150ms ping. Towerfall already has robust local play and some single player as well, adding online play would not impact it negatively in any way.

          • dagnamit says:

            it’s not impossible to do it. The dev believes it’s important to play the game in just one way. You disagree with that and your situation means you don’t get to the play the game. You don’t get to play the game! Get over it!

          • GHudston says:

            It’s not so much whining about not getting to play the game and more discussing the very likely chance that towerfall will not sell anywhere near as many copies as it deserves.

            There are a lot of us for whom couch gaming isn’t practical anymore and we aren’t going to be buying this for obvious reasons. I suspect that we’re not in the minority, especially on the PC, and that’s going to be a ton of lost sales.

            Towerfall looks great and I’d love for it to succeed, but I think it’s going to struggle.

          • aldrenean says:

            @dagnamit

            “Online support will remain in the back of my mind — if it seems worth the trouble at some point, I’ll do it, but I’m still skeptical that it would add much to the game right now.”

            From the developer. He doesn’t think it’s “important to play the game in just one way” — which is good, because that would make him a pretentious douche on the level of Phil Fish or worse. Instead it’s the common hurdle for indie devs of not having the money/time/expertise to add the feature in question. With its huge acclaim on Ouya and the likely sales on PS4, I’m hopeful that online multiplayer will be feasible, and as for the dev’s concerns about it being worthwhile, I think the fairly massive outcry and number of people who are saying they would buy in an instant if it had online multiplayer shows fairly convincingly that he would make his investment back and more.

        • GHudston says:

          It’s all well and good for that article to talk about the myriad of reasons why I wouldn’t want online multiplayer, but there is only one reason as to why I do want it and it’s a real game changer: I wont be able to play it at all without it.

          My friends and I are so scattered around the country and have such conflicting schedules that it’s basically impossible to gather together more than once in a blue moon. Couch gaming isn’t high on our priorities, while playing together online is something that we do quite often. I can’t justify paying for a game that I will never get a chance to fully enjoy, whether it’s offline multiplayer is superior or not, and I can’t possibly be the only one.

          More to the point, I think it’s insane to develop a “couch multiplayer” game for the PC in the first place. The couch isn’t exactly the PCs natural habitat. By all means include offline multiplayer, even make it a focus, but to do it at the expense of everything else? Bonkers.

          Such a shame. I really want to play this. Maybe there’s some hope in this quest mode I’ve heard about?

  4. dorkus1218 says:

    Fun is too weak a word for this game. The quest mode and trials are super great. The skill cap is super high.

  5. tangoliber says:

    R.U.S.E. is my personal favorite RTS of all time, and over the 1-2 years that I was obsessively dedicated to it, I found it to be an infinitely deep game.
    It also controlled well on PS3, being a game where fast micro was rarely important. It could help you in a few situations, such as spreading out infantry before a bomber hits them… but I think that if a PS3 player went up against PC player, the handicap would be about equal to an American Football game where one team can’t kick extra points… (they might lose because of it, but just as well might not need them.)
    On big map matches, mouse control is a huge advantage, because it allows you to dart around the map and control a lot more units… but those matches weren’t played competitively in R.U.S.E. anyway. The ranked maps were all very small and had a 25 minute time limit…so you never built up an insane amount of units.

  6. squareking says:

    Chibi fantasy King Arthur’s Gold mixed with the original Mario Bros.? Sounds fun, but no online multi is a shame.

  7. TimorousBeastie says:

    Been playing this and it’s been really annoying me actually, though the game itself is pretty great. I imagine my frustrations would be completely removed on a dualshock, which has a well crafted d-pad under thumb, but on a 360 controller (my preferred gamepad, so it’s the one I’ve got multiples of lying around for couch play) it’s a nuisance to aim diagonally, which is especially important for movement (your dash is aimed in the same way as your bow). You can only aim in 8 directions, and the game isn’t very good at converting analogue inputs from a stick into the limited directions available.

    • Arctem says:

      There is an option to allow free aim so that you are not bound to just 8 directions when aiming.

  8. Moraven says:

    Now to get it ported to Wii U where I actually own 4 controllers.

  9. Lone Gunman says:

    Is two player co-op good enough or do you really need more?

  10. Radiant says:

    Lot of lonely people.

  11. Ergates_Antius says:

    Towerfall Ascension. Wuh?

    • Arctem says:

      It came out on Ouya a long time ago (not sure exactly when, but I played it last fall, so some time before that), so the name is probably not related to Titanfall.

      The release date was almost certainly chosen to coincide with Titanfall’s, though.