TOKOYO: The Tower of Perpetuity Review: All The Way To The Top
The best roguelikes create a consistent feedback loop where the game feels outstanding while consistently rewarding the player for their progress. TOKOYO: The Tower of Perpetuity gets part of the equation right, featuring tight, challenging action-platforming with a unique twist. I could have used more of a sense of progression and consistent rewards, but it’s definitely a game that fans of the genre will want to consider.
TOKOYO puts you in the shoes of a group of anime girls who are part human, part animal, all of whom have been pulled into a mysterious tower. Yanked away from important tasks, their only hope of returning to their lives is to ascend the tower and find their way out the top. Shakespeare, it’s not, but TOKOYO isn’t worried about telling a captivating story. The characters are cute and look nice, and that’s enough when the focus here is squarely on gameplay.
Fight Or Flight
The gameplay here is actually really fascinating. As whatever character you choose, you’ll work your way vertically up the tower, dealing with increasingly difficult enemies and platforming challenges. Often the two go together, as there are a number of platforming sections that wouldn’t be too difficult on their own, but which can give your thumbs a workout when you’re trying to complete them while dodging five enemies firing at you or flying towards you.
In a lot of games, you’d just take the enemies out first and then proceed, but that’s often not an option in TOKOYO. That’s because you don’t have a primary attack. Instead, each character has a special attack, the kind of screen-clearing move that many SHMUPS have you saving up for a special moment, but unlike most of those games here, that’s your only way to fight back against the foes coming at you. This special move recharges, but there’s a significant delay while it does. That means you’ll want to save it for only dire situations, avoiding enemies and attacks as much as you can.
Get too cute, though, and TOKOYO will smack you down and make you regret keeping that special move in your pocket. You have a set amount of health, and while you can heal in a number of areas and even grow your maximum health, some enemies can absolutely decimate you, especially once you’ve made a significant amount of progress up the tower. I regularly had to judge whether things had gotten bad enough to want to bust out my special, knowing that it might only save me briefly but also knowing I was dead if I didn’t use it.
Things take a turn when you reach a boss on your way up the tower as well. This is the one time that running away and simply avoiding attacks is no longer an option. You’ll have to take these enemies out to proceed, and they have massive attack patterns which are difficult to dodge and shields which can go up at times. That means you have to time your special attacks carefully to strike them, and then go into evasion mode until your special charges back up, and you can attack them again. It’s an interesting twist on standard boss battles, though sometimes I felt like the balance wasn’t quite right.
Climb The Leaderboards
Upon dying, you’ll face game over, though, with certain resources, you may be able to continue your climb, albeit with your score reset. That’s because TOKOYO is at its heart a game about score. You’re working to escape the tower, but despite the difficulty getting out is no unconquerable task. Your main goal, however, outside of escape, is to get the highest score you can.
Like a lot of roguelikes, the path up the tower is randomly generated. Unlike most of the genre, though, it doesn’t change with each run. Instead, it changes once per day, in real-time. It changes for everyone else as well, so everyone in the world will be playing the same tower at the same time. After you die, you’ll see where you place on the daily leaderboard. Making it to the top of this list is a big part of TOKOYO.
While this is an interesting twist on the genre, it’s also the part that didn’t fully work for me. A new tower every day is nice, but they didn’t feel that different from day to day functionally, and as someone without a ton of interest in chasing high score lists, I didn’t find the hunt for that overly rewarding. If you do tend to enjoy chasing high scores and competing against a community, though, this may be right up your alley. The leaderboards were consistently populated during my time with the game, and it’s the kind of title you can just pick up for a few runs each day.
Despite not being drawn in by the hunt for high scores, the interesting twists TOKOYO puts on action platforming did grab my attention. Movement feels great, and having to approach situations with combat as a last resort instead of my main plan required me to think my way up the Tower of Perpetuity. If that sounds like it’s for you, then definitely check this one out.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: Switch (Reviewed), PC; Publisher: PLAYISM; Developer: //commentout; Players: 1; Released: June 2nd, 2022; ESRB: E for Everyone; MSRP: $11.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of TOKOYO: The Tower of Perpetuity provided by the publisher.