Juicy Beast Studio’s Knightmare Tower is a simple, fun but ultimately uninspired game. While the gameplay is enjoyable, it doesn’t really have any lasting impact or longevity.

It started life as a flash game on Kongregate before being released commercially on Steam. The Steam version has some extra content, cutscenes, controller support and a number of other little tweaks and changes. It’s not the only game to follow this formula – Super Meat Boy is maybe the best known indie game that started life as a flash game, and you could also point at more recent releases like Vertical Drop Heroes for similar stories.

The core of the game is simple and more or less adheres to the standard formula for Launch games. Your knight is launched via rocket up through the titular tower, chased along the way by a horde of enemies and a rather inconvenient advancing floor of lava. You only have a few actions – you can move left and right, and lunge downwards to stab enemies or grab the occasional item. Everything you do also gives you gold which you can use between deaths to purchase a variety of upgrades.

That’s all there is to it – it’s a really simple game. Fortunately, it’s also pretty fun. It takes a little while to get used to the controls – not being able to control your vertical movement very well can be disorienting at first – but soon you’ll be cutting a bloody swathe through the tower and hoarding more gold than in your wildest dreams. Crashing into new floors and unearthing new foes is a joy, and there’s enough variety in your enemies, quests and upgrades in the main game to keep things interesting throughout.

Knightmare Tower 04

This sense of progression keeps the main game compelling, and lasts more or less for the whole game. You can upgrade your equipment between runs – these run the gamut from fairly standard things like a stronger sword to the wild and varied upgrades you can get for potions. Similarly, the tower itself goes through enough different stages to keep things continuously interesting. Blasting through the tower throws you through a number of different floors, each with their own set of enemies. Your foes are easily identifiable – most are palette swaps or variations on a central concept – but they act differently and attack in different ways which keeps things from stagnating. On top of all that, the boss at the end of the tower iswell done. It throws everything that’s happened in the game at you, and adds in elements of bullet hells and the like – with the precision stripped out, which can be frustrating at times.

That only lasts for a few hours, though. I completed the main game in two to three hours, only dying once to the boss. After that, there’s still a sizable chunk of content to play through but Knightmare Tower falls flat here – it simply fails to make continuing to play an enticing prospect. You can replay the main game to beat your best time, but that loses its charm  quickly. More significantly, there’s an endless Survival Mode. Unfortunately, its mediocre at best.

The idea behind it makes sense and is solid enough – it shoots you up an infinite tower with increasingly difficult enemies, and your task is simply to survive as long as possible. The issues lie in how it fails to mix things up – there’s only one group of enemies here, and they’re all just upgraded versions of monsters from the main game. The only way the game makes them tougher is by increasing their health. There’s no variety – no new enemies or changed tactics or anything. Just reskinned foes with marginally more health as you ascend. Making things worse, buying new improvements costs a lot of money after a certain point and it can take a number of rounds just to buy a single upgrade. Since you keep your upgrades from the main game, improvements begin to slow down really quickly in Survival Mode. The game stops being a joy to play and becomes a chore.

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There were also quite a few technical problems that further muddied the experience. The menus are handled strangely, and are counter-intuitive – you can’t use your mouse for any of them and some of the button prompts are downright bizarre. Hitting B after pausing, for instance, restarts your run, and you need to go through the shop before you can quit back to the main menu. The game also decided to minimize itself numerous times while playing – while that wasn’t a catastrophic failure it certainly didn’t add to the experience.

Knightmare Tower is definitely a fun game, but there are enough issues to prevent it from being fantastic. The main game is too short to have any sort of lasting impact, and the extra content is nowhere near as enjoyable. It’s good, but not quite as good as it could have been.

You can pick up the game from its official website or via Steam.

Review: Knightmare Tower
  • Fun, simple gameplay
  • Enjoyable sense of progression
  • Very short lived
  • Extra features feel tacked on
  • Some minor technical issues
6Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author

Deputy Managing Editor

Alison has been gaming for about as long as she could walk, or talk. As time went on, she became deeper entrenched in gaming - from videogames to pen and paper games, they're all great as far as she's concerned. She's even studying software engineering and game development at university! Follow her on Twitter @HandsofaDream

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