Ratalaika Games are back at it again with another easy-G adventure, this time under the guise of Warlock’s Tower; a light puzzle game that sports a retro aesthetic. There’s not much of a story present, in fact, it’s relatively bare-bones in that regard. Simply put, a warlock threatens the safety of your world, and it falls to you to move through his tower to meet and defeat him (or bring him a peace offering to be more specific), overcoming countless puzzles along the way. Like I said, daft, but, it really didn’t need to be anything else.
The game is broken up into several tower sections, with each section housing two floors a piece. The game’s levels are presented on each floor, usually consisting of about eight levels per-floor, with some hidden extras thrown in for good measure. You’ll proceed through the game via beating levels to unlock more levels, all of which tend to rise in difficulty and complexity as progression is made. Though, regardless as to where you are, the crux of play remains the same throughout; for each step that you take, a life will be taken from you.
Each level is presented to you as single-screen affairs, all of which are usually fashioned off the floor that they reside on; factory, library, warehouse and so on. There’s not much to keep on top of as far as the game’s handling is concerned. You’ll move up, down, left, and right with the analog, and either refresh a level, quit a level, or exchange characters with the face buttons. That’s really all there is to it. The UI is nice and straightforward too, giving you all the handy information that you need to keep on top of to the left side of the screen.
You’ll always begin each level at a pre-set starting point, and must simply make your way to the exit point to move to the next area. The kicker, you’ve only got a set amount of lives to achieve this, and each step, as alluded to above, will cost a life. That being said, there’s always a collection of pick-ups to make use of along the way, pick-ups that will afford you some more lives as a result. The idea is to reach these pick-ups to bolster your life count, and then use the increase in movement to reach the level’s exit point; rinse and repeat.
Should you run out of moves, you’ll die on the spot and will instantly be respawned at the start of the current level. Things start out quite easy, with the game giving you a decent difficulty and learning curve to lean on. However, later on in, simply making your way from start to finish soon becomes much more legwork as enemies and new mechanics are introduced. The difficulty can feel taxing during the latter stages, but not so much that you’ll be turned away due to the fact that there’s not that many different ways to beat a level.
The mechanics and enemy types don’t usually provide much wow-factor, and oftentimes consist of the sorts of elements you would expect; keys, zombies, movable crates, teleporters, and so on. That being said, some do make for an interesting trek, and one that sees a relatively robust difficulty being introduced throughout. I was quite fond of the way the game incorporated two playable characters, being that you’ll need to swap between them to suss out how to progress further in unity. It’s a nice touch when all is said and done.
I can say as much about the implementation of pressure switches and teleporter pads, both of which make things all the more difficult to make it to the fabled exit point, but all the more rewarding once you work out what to do. I cant be as welcoming to the enemies and keys though; a few variation of beasts that pounce on you when you get too close, or, the need to pick up a key before being able to exit both feel like lazy ideas. Don’t get me wrong, it all fits in place quite well, but these mechanics in particular just come across as filler.
That, ladies and gents, is pretty much the sum of the game’s depth. Whilst Warlock’s Tower does a good job at constantly spicing things up, it doesn’t do a tremendous job at keeping things entertaining for too long. The game’s many functionalities, some mildly innovative, remain quite hit and miss for the most part. Though, even with that in mind, I have to commend the game for its challenging foundation nearer the second half. I’ve had fun, no doubt, but it’s fun I’ve had many a times before in puzzle games of a similar sort of ilk.
Now, if you’re here for the achievements, you’ll be glad to know that they’re fairly straightforward for the most part. You’ll unlock the majority of them through natural play. There’s only a handful that really require stepping off the beaten path; such as talking to needless NPCs that do little to add to the experience. Still, a bit of replay value cant be scoffed at, but that’s all there is to it. Outside of that, you’ll find little reason to return to the adventure, though for its generous cost, we shouldn’t really pull it down too much here.
In regards to the game’s visual and audio design, Warlock’s Tower is fairly hit and miss. The game sports an 80s 8-bit presentation, akin to what you would expect to see from the classing Game Boy. The game’s areas are indeed varied, but there’s not much distinction when you sit back and look at the bigger picture. This makes for a visually repetitive adventure, something a bit more detail and variation would have alleviated. I’ll say the same about the audio design, being that the cues and tracks are all generic and lackluster.
Warlock’s Tower isn’t half bad for a retro-fueled puzzler. The game paces itself rather well through the steady introduction of new mechanics, and although it somewhat struggles to remain interesting in the long-run, one has to commend its solid difficulty curve. You’re unlikely to be blown away by what’s on offer here, but you’ll certainly be getting your money’s worth, especially if you’re a fan of the genre.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.