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Quakelike: Tower Of Guns

Tower of Guns is a splendid first-person robot-shooter with randomised elements and power ups that stack, creating weaponry and skill sets that are ludicrously powerful and ludicrously ludicrous. A work in progress build is available to those willing to pay $7.50 for a preorder and I've spent forty five minutes ascending the tower this morning, pinging circular saws off angled walls, trashing hordes of robots and triple jumping to safety as avalanches of chunky, cartoonish bombs threaten to crush me. Levels are stitched together from a selection of predesigned rooms, some cramped and packed with whirling dervish-bots, others requiring vertical navigation and precision aiming. It's the Borderlands of Isaac, a roguish Quakelike delight. But you probably shouldn't play it. Not yet.

The game's designer, Joe Mirabello, kind of agrees with me:

Tower of Guns is the kind of game that’s more fun the more surprises there are for you. That said, if you want the “full ToG experience”, you might want to wait until the bar above reaches 70-80% complete [it's currently at 42%] or so before you try it. It’ll be more fun for you then.

It's the kind of experience that requires variety to keep the player interested. Short bursts of play, different every time. At the moment, there's little variation in enemy types, with the same turrets and spinning blades appearing in every other room. The bosses, some of which turn their lairs into first-person bullet hell contraptions as soon as they start their assault, are mightily impressive, but when the final opponent in any given set of rooms becomes harder to predict, the player's skills will be more thoroughly tested.

As in Isaac, your weaponry and skills are usually discovered rather than purchased, removing decision-making from the process. You don't choose a build, apart from an initial skill and gun, instead it's necessary to learn the best use for whatever the game throws in your path. Flexibility and speedy reactions are the tools for survival.

The more robots you kill without taking a hit, the more chance you have of levelling up your gun, which deteriorates in power when damage is taken. Never stop moving, that's the key.

Lewie P told me to try this while we were drinking a glass of grown-up pop and I'm glad he did. There are far worse ways to spend time and money, but holding back and waiting for a more complete version does seem sensible. That's not to say there are problems with the current build - its stable, attractive and entertaining - but best not to burn out the excitement factor before there's more to see. And it's not as if there aren't plenty of other games to play while you wait.

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