Review: TowerFall Dark World Expansion (DLC)

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Title: TowerFall Dark World Expansion
Format: PlayStation Network Download (33.2 MB)
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Matt Makes Games Inc.
Original MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
TowerFall Dark World Expansion is also available on Steam.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Review of the Original Game:
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Games like TowerFall Ascension have been the catalyst for broadening my gaming horizons and allowing me to see value in the Indie scene. In the past, my Triple-A blinders caused me to express disdain for anything under $59.99 and for far too long, I’d have never considered a “smaller” game to be a GOTY contender. I’m still fighting with putting up these walls when it comes to mobile games with touchy gimmicks but a few have definitely hypnotized me.

If you’d have stopped me in that GameStop line at the Brass Mill Center in Waterbury, CT on that cold November evening of the PS4’s midnight launch and told me that I’d spend more hours on an 8-bit style game called TowerFall Ascension than any other game that would come out for the system, I’d have laughed it off.

Two years and a few months into the new gen with games like The Witcher III and Metal Gear Solid V readily accessible in my library, I find myself having the most fun with TowerFall Ascension and its subsequent DLC entitled TowerFall Dark World Expansion.

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Gameplay:
TowerFall Ascension is a prime example of the candor behind the cliché “more than the sum of its parts”. On the surface, it’s an 8-bit arena shooter/platformer where all the action takes place on a single, immobile screen.

The single player campaign is fulfilling enough on its own but the real magic happens during the local multiplayer matches that we’ll discuss in that section. This DLC expansion adds new characters, arrow types, and arenas to the fray, opening up new archers, traps, and competitive advantages over your foes.

The DLC doesn’t add a ton of content to an already fantastic game, but the touches that come along with this pack are certainly worth owning. The power-ups available to players in the original game added an explosive dynamic to the fun as players with a quiver full of plain, old, regular arrows were forced to run in fear when their opponent wielded drill, bomb, lightning, or bramble arrows. Two types are added through this DLC: trigger arrows and prism arrows.

Trigger arrows can be planted as traps and detonated by the shooter at will with a touch of the Circle button. Prism arrows will instantly jail your target if, and only if, your opponent is skilled enough to properly employ the dash mechanic to avoid death.

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These arrow types are perfect additions to the original game because they were added later, after players were given a chance to exponentially hone their skills. While the arrows that shipped with the game became less of a threat to skilled dashers, the properties of this new ammunition counteract the dodge mastery.

TowerFall Dark World Expansion allows players to use the dark versions of the existing archers with a push of R2 on the character select screen. Although the change is basically cosmetic, it melds with the dark theme that’s ominously cascaded across the new title screen and new stages. With the addition of four new arenas, the brooding music and looming lighting certainly achieve a Dark World feeling.

… perfect for the era the game seeks to emulate …
There are three new challenges and a gauntlet of boss fights added to the single player and co-op campaign. My original view of this basic yet fantastic game was that it would forever be contained within its simplistic boundaries. I was proved completely wrong with the added boss fights which employ screen-filling enemies that provide over-the-top challenges and rewarding kills.

Visuals:
While the visuals of this masterpiece aren’t its strong point, it is a title and expansion that abides by the phrase “gameplay is king”. I’m awestruck by the genuine nostalgic feeling from the NES days every time I boot this game up, which is still very often.

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Audio:
The chiptunes that make up the soundtrack are perfect for the era the game seeks to emulate. The cartoony death sounds and exaggerated shots support the lighthearted nature of the game while the Dark World levels are convincingly atmospheric with the limited sound tech. I’m especially partial to the victory music of my favorite character, the Prancing Puppet.

Online/Multiplayer:
While the fact that there is no online component to TowerFall Ascension or TowerFall Dark World Expansion may be the game’s biggest miss, it’s understandable that the resources to make such a gaming experience possible are harder to come by for small teams like the one behind this game. The jumping, dashing, and shooting require quick reflexes that may not translate well in an online environment.

… unmatched replay value …
In the co-op mode, all the fun jam-packed into every fiber of the game can be experienced cooperatively. It is a rewarding experience and because your partner must be on the same couch, the shared victory is that much more intimate. When playing competitively, up to four archers can wreak havoc in an ‘every man for himself’ mode or in team based matches.

The level of customization options is incredible. Each and every power-up, mobility upgrade, stage characteristic, arrow type, and treasure option can be mixed, matched, and combined in almost any way. Playing with these variants and mixing them up to find the type of match that is the most fun is partly responsible for the unmatched replay value akin to this title.

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Conclusion:
While the TowerFall Dark World Expansion doesn’t add a ton of content to the game, the base experience is so good that as long as this DLC didn’t detract, it was sure to be a winner. Most of the game’s bases were covered by the original title so finding some creative additions to enhance the mechanics was a tall order.

That feat was achieved in this expansion and one of the PS4’s most fun games has been built upon through this wonderful content. TowerFall Ascension and TowerFall Dark World Expansion are PS4 must-owns for all players with any interest in the local, nostalgic, all but forgotten couch multiplayer experience.

Score:
9.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Emrah Rakiposki

Emrah Rakiposki

– Food
– Video games
– Rap music
It has been my life’s work to properly order the list of this world’s greatest pleasures. There is no right answer.

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