After reading an article on Rock Paper Shotgun, I became compelled to give Davioware’s superhard platformer TowerClimb a try.  What I found was a surprisingly engrossing, atmospheric game crammed into a little 16-bit indie game.  TowerClimb stresses that taking things slowly and not rushing is the only way to survive, and boy does it drive that point home.

TowerClimb is sort of like a roguelike mixed with various platforming elements, sort of like the other roguelike platformer Spelunky, but with a darker twist.  One of the things that immediately surprised me was how it manages to deliver so much atmosphere while still looking and sounding like something I’d play on the Super Nintendo.  In this way, TowerClimb actually reminds me a lot of Out of This World (or Another World, depending on where you’re from).  It doesn’t play anything like OoTW but the dark atmosphere, creepy music and constant threat of death bear many similarities.

In TowerClimb you will die.  A lot.  If you die, you stay dead and start over from scratch, like most other roguelikes.  What makes this fun, however, is how each time your experience is completely randomized.  One level may have you immediately running from a rising lava flow, while another may have the floor littered with spores that lift off like balloons, providing you an easy ride up.  There is a lot the game doesn’t tell you, but for the most part that makes it that much more engrossing and fun.  The controls seem just a pinch too complex for such a simple idea (inventory management is there but there’s almost never a need to actually utilize it), but nervously poking something to see if it will kill you or not is way more fun than it may seem, and even now I still gasp and lean forward before leaping off a rock face, hoping dearly to catch a grip on the next wall.

TowerClimb still has never ceased to amaze me, and really drives home the fact that you are playing as a small, weak individual, but taking things slowly and surveying your surroundings can get you out of a pinch, and it makes bursting through the door to the next level feel that much sweeter.

TowerClimb is currently in beta and can be purchased (with free updates!) for $5 here.