I’ve already finished the game. Twice, in fact. This is definitely an enjoyable game, but it’s also a short one. That first playthrough took a little over three and a half hours, while the second was just a couple minutes over two hours. Using different weaponry the second time around made it feel fresh (and different characters have different special moves, too), but I could still see the shorter length becoming a problem for some. On the bright side, this certainly makes online co-op easier since it’s entirely possible to finish the game in a single sitting. There was some talk of a custom level creator that could potentially give the game an endless amount of replay value, but I haven’t been able to find anything about that more recent than 2015. Whether that feature was silently dropped or simply delayed, I can’t tell.
I have no idea what this is
This looks like a hidden path that’s blocked off. The area supposedly sitting behind the obstruction is called the “Department of Lost Content,” and I can’t tell if it exists solely as a joke or if it’s actually possible to get past the barrier.
Oh hey, I died
Okay, so I’ve figured out how death and all of that stuff works now. Your three characters kind of work like lives, because dying as one character spawns one of the other two. Then they’re in control until they can track down the Fortune Teller and use an Amber Ball to resurrect the dead character. The closets, then, are useful for switching back to your preferred character after they’ve been resurrected.
Being able to lose arms and legs to enemies is a funny feature, but it can also be incredibly annoying. In the picture above, a dinosaur ate my scientist’s arms. As much as I love being able to use that previous sentence in a serious way, she dropped her weapons as a result of her sudden armlessness. There was a terminal right behind her that would have allowed me to fix her arms, but that barrier of spiky things blocked her from going back to it. The end result is that she died in a vain attempt to kick the dinosaurs to death, and then I had to have my backup character pick up her weapons (because I didn’t want to lose the weapon upgrades I bought), dropping his in the process. All while that arm-fixing terminal was still in sight.
This kind of weapon dropping and general management can be incredibly awkward, then, but the underlying problem is that it’s rarely obvious what causes various things to change about the level. If there’s a way to know that certain spiky barriers are one-way only, I’ve yet to notice it. Other spiky barriers lower themselves whenever you’re near (going both ways), so it feels like there’s little to no consistency in this regard. This level is filled with key cards that cause doors to open, but sometimes spiky barriers that allowed you past suddenly don’t. Or platforms that had previously moved are still. Or doors are suddenly red and locked. It’s frustrating when you can see a hidden area, but can’t actually reach it because some random threshold you crossed locked you out of that part of the level.
The city (which you return to after each mission in the first half-ish of the game, but eventually move on from) has a hotel, and getting a room allows you to save by sleeping. There’s also a closet in there for easy between-level character switching. I had assumed that this required money and didn’t look into it because I was broke the first time I went exploring, but it turns out that you can stay at the hotel for free.
The hotel became my base while I searched for the best way to make money. First I tried this cups game. It’s decent, but doesn’t allow you to make money very quickly. Also, screwing up sets you back quite a bit, and high bets increase the difficulty. None of this is ideal for making some quick cash, and the other minigames like hammering in nails (which is a timing minigame like the Megaton Punch in Kirby Super Star) and darts (which is unwinnable and anyone who says otherwise is a witch) fare similarly. You can make money with them, but it’s slow and risky.
Later, I was wandering around looking for secrets and found a hidden room with slot machines. These cost five dollars per spin, are timing-based, and the maximum payout is 800 dollars. Since your main character’s upgrades don’t transfer over to your other two, I found myself in a situation where Abraham Lincoln didn’t regenerate health when I first had to use him. It was really uncomfortable trying to get used to that in the middle of combat, so I racked up huge wins at the slot machine and upgraded everyone’s arms, legs, and torsos to the max.
I also tried to buy another drone, but you’re apparently only allowed to have one.
Everyone also purchased new weapons from the shop and had everything upgraded to its maximum level. As interesting as all of the buyable weapons are, however, I found that I had more success upgrading the weapons characters come with (minus one major exception that I’ll talk about a bit at the end). The mob guy’s Tommy Gun, the scientist’s electricity weapon, etcetera. It’s always fun to experiment, though.
There are a small handful of bugs
At one point in the game, there were a couple different songs playing over each other when I’d go to the hotel. It happened on my second playthrough, as well. I imagine that this will be fixed in a patch before too long, so it’s not a big deal.
The first time you try to hack something (most likely when you’re imprisoned if you’re not playing as the spy), you’ll get this tutorial explaining the hacking minigame. Weirdly enough, it popped up a second time when I was close to the end of the game. I’m not exactly sure what caused it, but I had my main character die and my second character picked up her hacking tool. That might have something to do with it. This is another of those little issues that doesn’t matter all that much.
Then there’s this. Maybe it’s poetic justice after abusing the game’s slot machine, but I acquired so much money that the game thought I didn’t have enough to buy a cheap little ammo box. I became so rich that I was actually impoverished. That arguably ties into the game’s themes of inequality, so I’m putting this in the “bugs that have insightful things to say about real life but are still annoying” category.
You’re going to want to keep the chainsaw
[Update: the chainsaw doesn’t work to get the good ending anymore. Instead, you’re going to want to get and upgrade the minigun.]
Tower 57 has two endings as far as I can tell, and the “good” ending is Lionheart-esque. In that game, you had to run up and kill the boss before he could walk through a portal if you wanted to get the good ending. Here, you similarly have a few brief seconds to kill a character at the very end, and whether you do or not determines whether you get the normal or good ending. In both cases, the changes are minor, but the good endings have a slightly more uplifting tone.
What’s frustrating about this is that most weapons don’t do enough damage to finish off the character in question before time is up. That’s actually the entire reason I went through the game a second time—to look for a better weapon to use at the very end. I found it in the very first level: the chainsaw. It’s not really hidden away, but I somehow missed it my first time through. This thing is totally worth holding on to throughout the game, because once its damage is upgraded, it does an astounding amount of damage. I literally beat the final boss in 5 seconds on the normal difficulty by strafing around and chainsawing him. Basically, this is a PSA: chainsaws are good. Just don’t chainsaw the robots that explode when beaten.