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July 2024

Project Tower

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 5
Genre: Action
Developer: Yummy Games
Release Date: Q3 2024


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PS5/PC Preview - 'Project Tower'

by Cody Medellin on June 11, 2024 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Project Tower blends adrenaline-fueled bullet hell combat with a unique morphing mechanic.

Even without E3, the summer edition of Steam Next Fest is still on, and there are plenty of demos for players to check out. One of those is Project Tower, a third-person shooter with some interesting hooks, based on its trailer. We got our hands on the demo before the event, and are sharing our impressions about the upcoming game.

You play the role of a prisoner, a human captured by an alien force for an unknown purpose. You're stuck in a tower that's being used to train soldiers and other prisoners. Failure to succeed means you'll stay in the tower forever, but completing the tower is your only chance at gaining freedom, so you really have one real choice.

As mentioned earlier, Project Tower is a third-person shooter that pushes the camera closer to the character and shifts to the side for an over-the-shoulder view. You get a pistol fairly early on, and while you have unlimited ammo, you need to let it cool down before you can fire it again. You'll also acquire a sword for some melee attacks and can do some dodge rolling, sprinting, and basic jumping and climbing to round out the expected movement in this genre.

The early portions of the demo are unremarkable. The environments consist of ruined industrial buildings and brown deserts. The camera has difficulty near walls and in narrow hallways. The sound effects for gunfire are barely audible, and the resolution can't go above 800p.

However, things change once you get the power of transformation. Come across a designated corpse, and you'll gain the power to transform into that creature. The first one you'll encounter is a worm, and while its bite attack is weak, you can move quickly through confined spaces. You'll encounter another creature later on that is more impressive, as it allows you to run much faster than your human form while also allowing you to spit powerful (albeit slow) fireballs. Transformation isn't just restricted to creatures, as you'll encounter a machine alter that lets you manipulate blocks, giving the game a Prop Hunt-style vibe that keeps the transformation ability fresh.

The transformation gimmick is neat but a tad restrictive. You can transform into multiple things, but you can't choose exactly what you'll transform into. For example, finding the block-pulling mechanism means that you can no longer change into the fire-spitting alien creature. It is entirely possible that the game will be structured around discovering the correct corpse for the given section, so you aren't shuffling between different creature choices in a menu, but it does take away the possibility of spontaneous discovery when you can only have one choice at a time. Those transformations are also restricted in terms of the attacks you can perform. For example, that fire-spitting alien may have melee attacks when you fight it, but you can't perform any of your own when you transform into that creature.

Once you reach the second boss fight, the demo becomes more interesting. Taking a page out of Returnal, the boss fight adds some bullet hell to the fight. Just about every attack from the boss fills the screen with loads of bullet patterns to weave through. The camera needs a bit of tweaking, as some of the patterns are slightly difficult to discern (in terms of spread and distance), but the game does a good job of making sure those projectiles stand out against the dark environment. It bodes well for future boss encounters, as the trailer on the game's page shows that the bullet hell tactic isn't a one-off thing.

Project Tower has potential. The idea of a bullet hell third-person shooter remains intriguing since so few games attempt to do that. The idea of morphing into different creatures and objects can also lead to some interesting situations in the future. You only get a tiny glimpse of this near the end of the demo, but we're still interested to see how this turns out.

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