Game: TOKOYO: Tower of Perpetuity
Genre: Action, Platformer
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows & macOS)
Developer|Publisher: //commentout | Playism
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US E
Price: US $11.99 | UK £8.99 | EU € 11,99
Release Date: June 2nd, 2022
Review code provided with many thanks to Stride PR.
TOKOYO: Tower of Perpetuity is a 2D action arcade game with roguelike design. The roguelike market has never been more bloated but that hasn’t stopped developers continuing to take a shot at it. Roguelikes, if you’re new, are titles where when you inevitably perish you lose all progress you’ve made in the game and start again from scratch. It’s the enjoyable gameplay that often convinces weird gamers like me to keep at it till they win.
TOKOYO manages to stand out from the usual crowd by offering a different spin on combat and its level random generation. It makes for a pretty enjoyable pick up and play arcade experience but some of the design choices don’t pop out as much as they could.
Enter The Tower
TOKOYO features 5 playable anime-style characters. Each with its own back story which is explained in the text before you begin a run. The general gist of each is that one day they were skipping along their merry lives when suddenly they blacked out and appeared in a mysterious tower, unsure how they ended up there. My favourite character was the cleaning robot, Clovard Kanearia, who is on a very important mission to clear up all the garbage left by humans.
I for one support Kanaes mission even if most of the runs I played with her she perished in a pile of bones. Whatever anime as heck character you play as the goal is to work your way up the tower in an effort to get back home. Things are kept nicely simple, getting you quickly into the gameplay.
Use Your Special Wisely
Before you begin your first proper run the game provides a useful and to the point tutorial to introduce you to the controls and mechanics. You will quickly discover that you have no basic attack to defend yourself. You either evade enemies with your platforming skills or fire off a special attack which triggers a grand and spectacular attack around your character destroying anything in its path. The catch to this is you need to wait for the special to recharge, using it at the right time can get you out of some difficult enemy-heavy situations.
It’s a brave move to remove a regular attack and yet it works, creating some tense moments of platforming while you wait for the next moment to strike. Jumping is effective but character movements feel a touch slow. This can be increased with random perks, dotted about the levels but often these buffs just don’t provide a notable kick usually witnessed in roguelike games. The special attack also appears to be the only main difference between the playable characters. The difficulty starts pretty modest but as you travel up it goes from modest to pretty crazy with enemies and hazards littering the screen, adding to the game’s arcade feel.
Boss battles are large in scale throwing all sorts of projectiles and hell at you. With the gameplay design, they just amount to avoiding projectiles till they drop their shield and you can use your special attack. Wash, rinse, repeat until the boss is destroyed in a pixelated explosion. It gets pretty repetitive as subsequent boss battles just repeat this formula but require you to repeat the cycle more times. Feels like the platform gameplay could maybe have been brought in to mix things up a bit, maybe have you evade the boss up the platform rather than just being confined to a small room.
As you make your way up the tower level by level you will constantly pass green platforms which will not allow you to turn back. So make sure you search every area thoroughly before you continue. There will be occasional points where you come across a light and dark statue where you need to pick one in order to continue. After making a choice this will shift the level layout providing an incentive to replay again to see the layout change.
The stand out feature of TOKOYO is that the tower randomly generates every 24 hours. This kinda encourages the player to have a go at the game on a daily basis to see what surprises await. A pretty good addition, especially for busy gamers with not a lot of time on their hands.
Online connection is encouraged when playing this game. Each time a run finishes your score is posted immediately up on the online leaderboard. By some miracle I was able to get to number 14 one day which is a rare achievement for me. You can opt to continue the game after death at the cost of in game currency but your score will be reset to zero. This is a welcome feature to gamers that just want to play through an entire run, however, arcade purists will most likely prefer to start from scratch the old retro way.
As you make your way up the tower you will encounter the odd grave stone which I think may be fellow online gamers trying to attempt a run. When you hover over one a witty text box will present, although it is tiny on handheld mode. It was a nice touch that made me feel I was included in a grander game experience. But I guess time will tell if the community will continue to play this game.
The graphics use a pretty familiar pixel based design. I enjoyed the sounds, particularly the pixel explosion and coin sounds, which gave the game a charming arcade-like feel. Lots of colour and varied level layouts provided you return on different days. There are some nice surprises now and with the style changing to a monochrome Game Boy-like aesthetic. But there are moments when all of the stuff on screen can be a bit visually noisy. When the projectiles and hazards become more numerous it can be hard to tell what’s a collectible and what’s a hazard. Despite all this noise the game runs well in TV and handheld.
Outside the runs, you can replay boss fights if you want to practice them, as well as view enemies you have encountered. You are able to view different character cosmetic colours if you’re looking for a different look. All these features appear to be tied to online connection as when I attempted to play the game offline they all disappeared but I was still able to enjoy a general run. My score just wouldn’t be embarrassingly posted on the leaderboard.
Conclusion – Arcade Fun in Short Bursts
TOKOYO is a competent arcade high score chasing experience that will provide some decent small bursts of gameplay. The changing of the tower every 24 hours gives an incentive to dip in on a playthrough every now and then. But I’m not sure that’s enough to keep people coming back over and over. Upgrades lack a certain punch to them unlike the heavy-hitting roguelikes making runs generally feel pretty familiar even with the random level generation.
If you love your arcade games and want to score-chase them I recommend picking this up. If you’re short on gaming time and very busy this is a pretty good gaming fix if you only have a few minutes spare before the train arrives at the station. Not the best roguelike experience on Switch but it has some quirky anime charm, check it out.
Final Verdict: I Like it