Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Local multiplayer games have made an unlikely resurgence these past two years, meaning there’s half a dozen I’ve played and loved during the period. Gang Beasts is great though still feels incomplete. Nidhogg is great but I found, after years of playing the free version, that my enjoyment of its full release was shortlived. It’s TowerFall: Ascension, then, that I would recommend to anyone who wanted some single-screen gaming.
The joy of it doesn’t necessarily come across in straight desriptions: there’s platforms, you have a bow and three arrows, there’s screen wrap, and you need to kill the other competitors to win.
The joy of it is immediately obvious if you play it. Those bows lend you a hand with a teensy bit of auto-aiming, but there is precision and skill required to nail your opponents with them. Those arrows can be caught in mid-air using the dash move or collected when dropped to the ground, creating a meta-game of trying to control your opponent’s ammo supply. And that screen wrap becomes the tool of your most graceful moments, as you fire seemingly at random off screen and hit a target otherwise inaccessible to you.
Originally released on Ouya, the Ascension PC version added a set of singleplayer levels against waves of enemies. If friends aren’t available, it’s fun on its own and I wouldn’t have regretted buying it. But gather a group of comrades around a computer screen for co-op or competition and Towerfall comes alive, its every neat little interaction prompting rivalries, yelps of surprise and laughter.