Operation Wind of Change. That’s the confidential mission awaiting the three agents when they step off the train at Tower 57. The tower is home to Grutin Inc., a manufacturing company that recently experienced a small takeover by The Supervisor. Worried that the uprising could spread to the surrounding towers, the agents are sent in to put an end to The Supervisor’s scheme.

Once there, the agents must fight their way up the tower to come face to face with The Supervisor. However, all is not as it seems. Over a series of six missions, the agents discover The Supervisor was only the tip of the iceberg. In the end, what awaits the agents is the truth behind Tower 57’s existence.

I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t sold on Tower 57 right out of the gate. Six agents are available, with each having a unique weapon and tool. The problem I came across choosing my three agents was there was no explanation for how the items worked. I found myself having to choose random agent combinations until I came across a combination that worked. A simple text box explaining the abilities of the agents’ weapons and tools would have saved me from going through this monotony. Through trial and error, I came upon The Don, whose Tommy Gun and proximity mines offered the best offense and defense.

The Don and his trusty tommy gun carried me and my agents through most the tower until his life was tragically ended in a shootout with an aggressive crablike creature. Luckily, when an agent dies, they leave behind their weapons and tools for the remaining agents to pick up. I upgraded the tommy gun several times until I came across a shop which offered a more powerful weapon: the rocket launcher.

Tower 57 offers several different weapons for purchase. I found the rocket launcher to be the best bang for my buck. It could destroy turrets in two shots whereas the rest of the weapons required a bit of tricky maneuvering and shooting. In moments where I was surrounded by enemies, the ability to end turrets quickly and easily made climbing the tower seem like child’s play. The strength of the rocket launcher is balanced out by its lack of ammo. After a few shots, it is dry, which I found limited my use of it. I was happy to see this. If ammo wasn’t limited, I could have easily blasted my way up Tower 57 with little challenge.

Combat in Tower 57 is about ammo conservation, which is tough with the crazy amount of enemies present at any point. The agent’s special weapons and tools have limited ammo which can be refilled by finding or purchasing ammo boxes. Ammo boxes aren’t always readily available or affordable. Running out of ammo means using the generic rifle which has unlimited ammo. This thing hits like a wet diaper even when its fully upgraded. Its infuriating to have to use it and almost certainly means death is close. I found it was best to use the generic rifle for looting boxes for gold and saving my ammo for the battles to come.

In time, I was able to resurrect The Don from the dead. In exchange for an amber ball, the local fortune teller brought The Don back into my life. Amber balls are littered throughout Tower 57. Not so much that resurrecting a downed agent is an easy task. To my surprise, he still had the upgrades that I had painstakingly ground out thousands of gold for. With The Don in the lead, my agents eventually found The Supervisor and brought him to his knees. But like I said, The Supervisor was only the beginning. Tommy gun in hand, The Don and the rest of the agents climbed Tower 57’s various floors with each one bringing newer and tougher enemies.

Combat in Tower 57 can be difficult. At higher difficulties, where only a few hits means the death of an agent, combat is more about dodging than shooting. At times there are so many projectiles and bombs being lobbed my way I found myself spending way too much attention to dodging while blindly shooting. With a lot of luck, I managed to clear the more difficult areas without much trouble. Mostly, I found my agents decimated by the endless enemy onslaught.

Boss battles offer a more classic experience. They are less about luck and more about skill.  Each boss has a predictable series of attacks which change as the battle ensues. Even on harder difficulties, boss battles do not offer much of a challenge compared to the chaos of getting there. This is the inverse from typical dungeon crawler experiences where the boss battle offers an equal or greater challenge than the process of getting there. I actually didn’t mind the reprieve that Tower 57‘s boss battles provided.

Tower 57’s 16-bit graphics are beautiful. In an age where achieving realism in video games is the norm, the 16-bit graphics offer a refreshing nostalgic effect. The level of detail assigned to levels and characters are a pleasant surprise. Each floor of Tower 57 offers a unique experience and isn’t simply a recycled mishmash of the previous floor.

Tower 57’s music was the highlight of my three-hour experience. Typically, I don’t notice the music in a game because I’m more worried about listening for the next thing to kill or I simply don’t care. But with Tower 57, there is plenty to kill and the 80’s techno helps accentuate the game’s fast paced rhythm.

I came across only a couple issues during my time with Tower 57. Sometimes an enemy would trap my agent against a wall, which made moving away from the wall impossible. If I was stuck using my generic rifle, there would be no way to kill the attacker. All that could be done was to look on in horror as the agent’s life melted away and all the progress I had made since my last save disappeared. Another issue I came across was with online multiplayer. Tower 57 advertises itself as having a heavy focus on co-op. I waited for almost half an hour in the multiplayer queue before giving up. At this time, it seems that the only way to experience co-op is to purchase a copy of Tower 57 for yourself and a friend.

I started Tower 57 with no idea what I was getting myself into. I was initially confused by the lack of explanation for character tools and weapons. But I eventually found I was genuinely enjoying the gameplay. There was enough of a challenge that I found myself frustrated with certain enemy encounters and boss fights but the challenge wasn’t so great that I wanted to rage quit. Tower 57 is definitely worth the purchase.