TowerFall, incubated on Ouya, may be PS4's first streaming killer app

Opinion

People have been streaming games on their PC for some time, but the ability to broadcast your play through a single press of the "share" button on the PlayStation 4 makes that process seamless. It's about ease of use, not ability. Now that problem is solved, and it's about content.

The PlayStation 4 is suffering from a somewhat limited selection of games, but that button will only become more popular as a wider variety of competitive titles are released.

TowerFall Ascension is coming to the system on March 11, and we may finally have the perfect killer app for the Twitch streaming features of the hardware.

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TowerFall was one of the best games of 2013, to the point that Polygon named it our number 3 game of the year. This is even more impressive due to its launch on the Ouya, the Android-based microconsole that is known more for its PR gaffes than its game selection.

Players in the know have been using a combination of wired and wireless controllers to get four players together to duel with bows, arrows and all the fun options in the game for a while now, but the lack of a console or PC version of the game, combined with the lack of online play, have made it more of a cult success than a broadly popular title.

There is new content in the PlayStation 4 version, including a suite of new levels and power-ups, but the core mechanics of hunting down the other players with arrows that turn just the right amount to seek their targets are already perfect. The question now is how much icing you want on that cake, and creator Matt Thorson seems more than willing to pile it on.

This may not be a game that will move systems, but it is a title that will likely cause people to pick up more controllers. Just like the original, you can only play with other friends in the same room. The lack of online play may be a deal breaker for some, but it encourages a certain kind of play. This is a social, competitive and often maddening game, complete with high-level moves and strategy that only become apparent when you’ve poured hours into honing your abilities.

The game’s popularity on the Ouya means that the version we’ll play on consoles has been improved by the hours upon hours of play testing and real-world use, and that’s crucial in a game of this nature. The game’s release on Ouya hasn’t relegated it to also-ran status as much as it has likely driven up demand for the game; everyone with a PlayStation 4 will finally get a chance to see why the game has enjoyed such underground popularity.

My friends and I have poured dozens, if not hundreds, of hours into TowerFall, and we’re still marveling at that killer move, that perfect strategy and those amazing shots that take place every few games. The game naturally leads to stories and epic confrontations as you play and grow your skills. TowerFall is one of the most dramatic and well-paced multiplayer games in recent memory, and this becomes even more apparent as you play, or watch others play, at the higher levels.

Every player has to balance many elements in each round, from their arrow supply to making sure no one jumps on them from above. First you learn how to manage your player. Then you figure out how to use the level to your advantage. Then you master the art of shooting their arrows with yours. Then you learn how to grab the arrows out of their air and add them to your quiver.

TowerFall is one of the most dramatic and well-paced multiplayer games in recent memory

Then it starts getting crazy.

These mechanics create a wide gulf between how the game looks when you're learning its many systems and what happens during high-level play. The lack of online play will be cursed by many, but it goes a long way to making Towerfall evenings fell like an event, and streaming these matches through the PlayStation 4's Twitch integration will help spread the scene and create a viable competitive community.

TowerFall Ascension was made better by its incubation period on the Ouya, but it's time for the game to find a wider audience on the PC and PlayStation 4. This is a game that's as fun to watch as it is to play, and the offline-only nature of the game will help create an almost arcade-like scene among the best players.

The PlayStation 4 already enjoys a charmingly eclectic game selection, and TowerFall is another arrow in Sony's quiver. I like forward to sharing our game nights with the world.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Polygon as an organization.

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