At some point, we have all been “the new person”. Whether it’s a job, school/college, or a sports team, the underlying emotions are the same. Will you be good enough? Will anyone like you? Am I the right person for this role? These are normal feelings, but can you imagine taking a job because the last person got sacked for asking too many questions? This is the starting point in The Tower. A vacancy has come up because one security guard couldn’t keep their mouth shut.
Developed by Kyle Simpson and published by Vherb Media LLC, it’s an action-adventure title about secrets, lies and survival. This is Kyle Simpson’s maiden voyage into the gaming world, and so far, so good. The Tower is still under development and could change between now and release. From my beta viewing platform, I’d say little needs to alter and the game should continue on its current trajectory.
The Tower takes you on a path of mystery, danger, and intrigue.
What I loved from the start was the immediate clues showing how The Tower would play out. Cagey conversations, security locks at every turn, and a boss that puts you in your place. It was clear the story would be a slow-burner and clues would be drip-fed through puzzle-solving and exploration.
You are a security guard who has started a new role at the most secure building in the city. Questions are frowned upon and your role is very specific. You are not to use the lifts and the stairs are your new best friend. The Tower comprises 89 floors of unusual and classified activity. You may wish to see what happens on every level, but you only have clearance to wander around four of them. Your day starts quiet, almost mundane, and then all hell breaks loose. An incident is followed by fire, blocked exits, and an unnamed group of mercenaries. You no longer want to explore the 89 floors…..you have to! The only way out is down, but fire, murderers, and mystery stand between you and the exit.
A story told through linear missions.
The linear, focussed narrative forces you to progress by completing one task at a time. You are funnelled through labyrinthine offices, tight air vents, and locked spaces. Minor puzzle elements ensure you explore the surrounding area for clues or ways to progress. You will move objects to reveal hidden access points, find items to unlock doors and solve puzzles. The concept is tried and tested, but the way it has been designed makes it flow nicely from one point to another.
In this short beta comprising three chapters, I was given a taste of armed combat, the level design, interaction with NPCs, and problems to solve. I was thoroughly impressed with each element and look forward to seeing them evolve over the predicted ten-hour gameplay. The mysterious nature of the plot will allow the developer to venture into the realms of surrealism and this would be an interesting twist. The current format of “move here, and fight that” could become tiresome if followed strictly over every floor. If Kyle Simpson blends the straight-laced ideas with some unusual Sci-fi layers it would make for a very interesting concept.
I also enjoyed finding notes left on desks and tables. Their memos gave an insight into the secrets that lie within the tower while adding depth and emotion to the NPCs. It would be nice if this was expanded upon to allow for side quests. This would give a break from the linear structure while letting the player decide their focus.
The Tower made my laptop hotter than the sun!
I’m mainly a console gamer, so I combined my reviewing and gaming into an MSI gaming laptop. Now purists will say I should have purchased a desktop, and I agree, mostly. Playing The Tower turned my laptop into a molten ball of fire that I swear was hotter than the sun (minor exaggeration, but you get the point). The performance-heavy game requires a reasonably good rig to get the most from it. I could play at the top settings and it looks great and performed to a high standard. The textures look nice, and the panels and switches contained lots of details.
Sadly it juddered in places, but this is probably a hardware issue rather than anything to do with the game. I experienced some minor issues, but this is expected at the beta stage. All issues were reported so hopefully the problems will be ironed out. For his first project, it was impressive how good it looked and how stable the performance was.
The developer has a talent and passion for sound and audio. The star of the show is the music and the acting. The choice of songs perfectly matches the action on screen and it puts you on edge waiting for someone or something to jump out at you. The acting is reminiscent of cinematics found in triple-A titles. The well-delivered lines ensure that every character is realistic and you buy into the story much quicker because of it. The sound effects were good but the pistol fire lacked depth. This gave the impression of an underpowered weapon and this undermines the enjoyment during combat scenes.
Full controller support or mouse and keyboard.
When a game offers multiple control methods, it’s very much appreciated. I took the time to try both, and each had advantages and disadvantages. The game favours neither mouse and keyboard nor controller use, because of its dynamic tutorial. Both methods perform well yet the controller sensitivity made combat tricky. The pistol moved too quickly and made aiming a challenging experience, I recommend playing around with the settings to get the most out of this. The layout is easy to understand and can be altered to your liking. A handy schematic shows your preferred button layout and this helps to reduce confusion. This approach was spot on and makes this an extremely user-friendly title.
Discussing replay value in a preview is like trying to predict the future. I’m no clairvoyant, but I’ll give it to go! With plenty of levels to explore, a story-rich linear narrative and the potential for some unusual twists and turns, this should keep you busy for hours. Ten hours of gameplay is a good return from an indie title, with the potential of a large achievement list, this could stretch to be much longer.
The Tower is great at the moment and offers a lot to be excited about.
A demo rarely leaves you wanting more, but The Tower does just that. With many unanswered questions and the action hotting up, I wanted to keep playing. With minor issues and plenty going for it, you have nothing to lose by trying the demo here! The project is still under development and the Kickstarter campaign is available for you to support here! Taking a new job is challenging, but this is something else!
The Tower is currently under development and shows us glimpses of what is on offer in its demo (available July 1st 2021). With a story-rich narrative, excellent audio, and high-quality graphics, this has a bright future. There are a few issues that will be resolved before release so don’t allow that to put you off. Who’d have thought an office job could be so challenging?
(Reviewed on PC using Steam.)