Warlock’s Tower is a fun little throwback puzzler that slowly and intelligently builds in difficulty and scope throughout its more than 100 levels.
Warlock’s Tower Game Review: A fun puzzler with a unique twist
Warlock’s Tower is finally making its way to consoles after first releasing on PC and mobile platforms two years ago. There’s good news, too, because the retro-style puzzler is just as good in its transition to a more couch play friendly setting as it is in both of those systems.
Featuring over 100 different room-sized levels for players to explore, Warlock’s Tower offers approximately 6 hours (at most) of intricate puzzle-solving fun. These elements alone would be enough to result in little more than the average throwback title, but Warlock’s Tower brings to life a fun game-based system that really sets the title apart.
The humorously self-aware premise of Warlock’s Tower is simple enough: players must lead their Tim the Mailman hero through every level of the evil Warlock’s Tower in order to deliver a letter. As Tim gets closer to his goal, the challenge naturally increases.
This is one among the biggest strengths of the game. Unlike a lot of retro-inspired titles that emphasize throwing players into the fire right away, Warlock’s Tower builds slowly when it comes to difficulty. The first half dozen or so rooms focus on learning what the title is about and understanding its mechanics. It’s an approach casual gamer’s will be grateful for.
Of course, when things get challenging in Warlock’s Tower, the game doesn’t back down. Like most puzzle games of its kind, it is from a top-down perspective with 8-bit inspired graphics. Some rooms are much larger than others, but the goal is always the same: reach the exit somewhere in the room (designated with a flashing arrow).
While it sounds simple enough, Warlock Tower implements a life system where each person in the room reduces the player’s ‘life’ count by one. This mechanic is expertly woven into the game’s equally impressive map design and adds a whole new layer to the puzzle genre.
While lives are finite in the Warlock’s Tower, scattered throughout each map are designated pick-ups that grant more lives (usually 3 or 5). Players must be careful in what order they pick up these lives, however, as they do not stack. So if you pick up a 5 and then a 3 immediately after, your life is reverted back to 3.
The key to success (and where the game encourages strategic thinking) is finding the best logical sequence to take a life and reach the door. in time. Sometimes players also need to find a key to the exit door, which adds a whole new wrinkle. Puzzles, escape and life management aren’t the only things to worry about in Warlock Tower.
As progress through the tower unlocks, players will encounter different creatures from zombies to slime monsters in each stage of the map. All of these creatures have different habits and attack patterns that they follow where critical thinking and recognizing these patterns is the key to success.
It’s in this final slow paced utter chaos that Warlock Tower really shows its teeth as a puzzler, and there are moments where it feels downright impossible to make progress. But the game is never extreme, and solutions often come with timing and use of the game’s mechanic that allows players to move the camera freely across the map.
While Warlock’s Tower is a game with surprisingly few flaws, not everything goes as intended. Some of the levels require switching between Tim and random characters, and while some of these rooms are exciting and challenging in the right way, some are just too complicated to complete.
This stands in stark contrast to the rest of Warlock Tower’s solo Tim outings, which bring just the right amount of difficulty and accessibility. Finally, even for its relatively low cost, the game’s length is a bit disappointing, mainly because it doesn’t really provide much incentive to replay rooms.
Sure, there are mystery rooms that are unlock-able after reaching a certain percentage of completion, but they are few and far between. These are relatively minor complaints though and not nearly enough to detract from the absolute brilliance that graces most of Warlock’s towers.
Mostly the mechanics, design choices, and random moments of hilarious text-based dialogue (including lots of fourth wall breaking) work in conjunction to create a deeply engrossing and layered puzzler experience. It may be a short trip to the top of the tower, but it’s a fun, challenging journey you’ll be glad to embark on.