The rogue-lite genre is divisive. On one hand, it is moreish and demands you improve and keep playing. On the other, it is frustrating and demoralising when you lose everything. I’ve warmed to these games over the years and leapt at the chance to cover Tip Top: Don’t Fall! This simple indie title won’t tax your brain, but it can be enjoyed casually.
Developed by Tristan Dahl and Studio Huckepack and published by Sometimes You, this is a rogue-lite sports title. Furthermore, it has procedurally generated stages, and its mellow aesthetics juxtapose the permadeath mechanics. As such, you’ll love every moment until you die for the nth time. When this happens, you’ll bite your lip, groan, cry, and then start the madness all over again.
Tip Top: Don’t Fall! is wonderfully relaxing.
A game that focuses on rock climbing shouldn’t be this beautiful or relaxing. Yet, somehow Tip Top: Don’t Fall! creates this atmosphere. You’ll take a trip across the globe as you attempt to climb a range of mountains. En route, you’ll encounter many problems and increasingly harder obstacles to overcome. As such, it’ll push you to your limits as you balance risk and reward.
You control an unnamed solo climber. It is your responsibility to traverse each rock face and tap the summit flag. Sounds easy, right? Well, in theory, it is, but many subtle mechanics make it harder than it first appears. If you can work quickly and ascend each climb safely, you’ll move to a new area to climb. However, if you hang around too long, or misplace a hand, you’ll fall to your death and your progress is wiped. Darn you, rogue-lite mechanics, darn you to hell!
Stamina, bolt points, and acrobatics.
Tip Top: Don’t Fall! perfectly captures the basics of rock climbing in its arcade approach. You must observe several key factors if you wish to succeed. Stamina, bolt points, and chalk are essential to climbing the mountain. The most important of these is stamina. Every time you grasp a rock, your stamina bar starts to drain. If it runs out, you lose grip and you die. However, this can be overcome with a handful of chalk. Consequently, as you climb, you must observe your stamina meters and use your chalk accordingly.
Yet, it’s not that simple. No, you must also contemplate whether you use the handily located bolt points. These act as a checkpoint and remove the permadeath element from the action. But they come at a cost. Clipping in uses vital stamina and it takes time. Subsequently, you could run out of energy before you reach the summit. Here lies the gamble between risk and reward. Do you scramble up the mountain as quickly as possible, or do you take your time and risk being exhausted?
Whatever you decide, you must also contend with bad weather and moments of acrobatic madness. The weather element forms a key part of the obstacle system. Accordingly, your climb is never straightforward, and this enhances the difficulty while increasing the pressure. Alongside this, you’ll have to leap from grip to grip when the gap is too big. This is mighty impressive, but it drains your energy considerably. As such, you must plan two steps ahead or risk losing it all.
Tip Top: Don’t Fall! is a pastel dream.
If you’ve been to the mountains, you’ll know how breathtaking they can be. Tip Top: Don’t Fall! has captured this with its soft pastel colours and minimalist approach. I adored the lack of complexity and the beautiful hand-drawn imagery. What’s more, each location is varied, and the procedurally generated levels keep things fresh. Alongside this, the climbing animation is great and the stamina bar is easy to observe. Though the sharp colours contrast the other elements, it made it much easier to see, and this improved the gameplay.
The audio perfectly reflects the danger and tranquil setting. With dramatic undertones, but an upbeat pace, Tip Top: Don’t Fall! wonderfully represents the beauty of rock climbing. Alongside this, is a spectacular mix of environmental sound effects. Whether it is the howling of the wind or the noise of passing birds, it sets the scene. On top of this, I enjoyed the desperate noises of the climber. The shouts of “Ohhhhh” added extra pressure, and this was fantastic.
Tip Top: Don’t Fall! matches its straightforward action with a deceptively simple control setup. With a few buttons to master, you’ll be climbing in no time. However, this lulls you into a false sense of security! Instead of taking your time and contemplating your approach, you’ll clamber up each rock face. This sounds like a great idea, but it normally ends in failure. Yet, this is half of the fun and is one key element that makes it so enjoyable. Alongside the simple layout are responsive inputs and an excellent tutorial. Consequently, the developers have done a great job.
In theory, this is a tiny game. There aren’t a vast amount of levels to overcome, nor is there an expansive world to explore. Yet, it still feels massive thanks to the procedurally generated levels. No attempt is ever the same, and this enhances the replay value. However, what this is missing is a competitive edge. If multiplayer action was incorporated, this would make this game spectacular.
Tip Top: Don’t Fall! is an amazing arcade title.
Thanks to its casual style and risk and reward ethos, Tip Top: Don’t Fall! is an amazing arcade title. You don’t get bulked down with challenging mechanics or an in-depth story. No, instead, it is just you and your wits against the mountain. With a beautiful and calm aesthetic and wonderful controls, this is a great game. Its only shortcoming is its lack of multiplayer or competitive action. Despite this, I adored it and I recommend you to buy it here! Can you beat the mountain? Balance your approach, avoid the obstacles, and make it to the top.