What makes a game good? Flash games aren’t exactly what people look at when they talk about “good games”, but there are a few that really go the distance and could be considered good whether you like flash games or not. Tower of Heaven is not only a good flash game, but a good platformer. It does everything right, even if it makes you want to break your keyboard every once in a while.
You take control of a traveler looking to climb the Tower of Heaven in search of answers. It doesn’t go into much more than that and it doesn’t need to. You need to climb, and the god at the top of the tower isn’t too welcoming. As you progress through each increasingly difficult level, the god will put rules into play to make things even more of a challenge. No touching the sides of bricks, no walking left, no touching living things — there are a few.
The rules are tasking of the player because they not only make things more difficult, but forgetting them and doing what you’re forbidden from doing leads to instant death. You have to figure out your way around each level with the rules in mind, and even if you follow them exactly there are enough obstacles and perils to kill you themselves . Expect to die. A lot.
To say the game is difficult would be an understatement. One level spawns you right in front of two spinning blades (one in front and one above you) and you need to get the timing down to jump past them, and then past the blades in the next section. And then the rest of the level. Yes, you will die at least a few times during this stage whether you like it or not.
Each level of the Tower of Heaven gets progressively more difficult, and the last stage can downright give you a headache if you let it. Luckily when you die you spawn at the start of a level every time, so there’s no concept of “Game Over” here. In a game where even the butterflies and grass are out to get you, this is a huge relief.
While the gameplay is fun and the controls are tight (pixel perfect jumping, hurrah!), perhaps my favorite things about Tower of Heaven are its visuals and music.
The very first thing you will notice (since the game doesn’t get difficult until the third of fourth stage) is the Gameboy-esque visuals. It almost perfectly emulates the way original Gameboy games looked, from the colors to the simple designs. I say almost perfectly because the detail in the spinning blades and the moving clouds outside of the windows in the background are perhaps outside of what the console could have produced, but otherwise it looks just like a Gameboy game.
The music is also a huge throwback and faithfully sounds like an 8-bit midi. The main tune is catchy and melds perfectly with the visuals and the gameplay, which makes the game a complete package. The overall game has a theme to it, and completing the game really makes you see that. I won’t give away why, though!
The main game isn’t that long unless you get stuck on a stage or two. It is difficult, but there really aren’t that many stages to complete. Past finishing the story, there is a custom level option if you are looking to extend your stay in the Tower of Heaven. The level editor is pretty beefy and can be even more engulfing than the main campaign if you’re serious about making balanced and challenging stages.
There isn’t really anything that Tower of Heaven does wrong. It’s difficult, but there’s so much care and thought put into the game that you are willing to keep trying at the hard-but-totally-doable portions of the game. There aren’t a lot of flash games or platformers in general with this much heart in them, and it’s a complete experience from the platforming to the visuals to the music.
I honestly can’t say anything bad about it.