Good couch multiplayer games are in vogue on the PlayStation 4, which means more tantrum throwing, "accidental" elbow incidents, and debates over who gets the "good" controller than ever before. Tricky Towers, a physics-based tower-builder in which up to four players can compete both offline and online, may not be a particularly amazing addition to the console's catalogue of local multiplayer games, but dedicated puzzle fans should get some fun out of it.
In essence, Tricky Towers is essentially multiplayer Tetris, except the blocks (or Tetrominoes) are affected by physics, and therefore your tower can collapse, leading to some particularly tense situations in multiplayer. There's also a bit of spell-casting thrown in to keep things interesting: light spells are focused on strengthening your own tower – such as petrifying one of the bricks in it in order to keep it rock solid – while dark spells are used to throw a spanner in the works of your opponents, like changing one of their bricks into a random object or enlarging their next piece so that it's harder to place.
These special abilities help make Tricky Towers a fun multiplayer game – there's the decision of whether to help yourself or hinder your opponent, as well as the fact that you'll have to focus extra-hard on placing your blocks since they're affected by physics and forces. It's a game that's very easy to pick up and play, and although it doesn't have much replay value and does get a little stale over time, it does make for a good party game every now and again.
There are three modes in multiplayer: Race, in which the winner is the player who builds the highest tower in the allotted time; Survival, where you lose a life every time one of your blocks falls; Puzzle, in which you're given a set number of blocks, and must build a tower that doesn't go over a certain height. Survival is the flagship mode of the multiplayer, one that's both slow and tactical, yet has pockets of bedlam whenever players cast their spells. One more mode wouldn't have gone amiss, as the trio do eventually get stale after repeated bursts of playing.
Tricky Towers starts to lose its thunder in single player, however. Since the spell-casting is what makes the multiplayer matches interesting, the fact that it's omitted in single player makes it a largely boring affair, as it's essentially the multiplayer except the AI casts spells on you and you can't fight back, leading to some frustration. The Endless mode is appreciated, though it's hardly likely that you'd want to play the game by yourself for so long, as the multiplayer is far more fun.
The game has a cutesy aesthetic, with the wizard designs and background drawings being charismatic in particular, but one really annoying part of the game is the menu screens. Every time you move to a different button, a bongo drum sounds, which is particularly irritating when you're scrolling through menus and your ears fill with the sound of an angry monkey in a room full of drums. It's only a minor qualm, though.
Tricky Towers is a good romp when playing local multiplayer with friends – the floppy physics add tension (both literally and metaphorically) and the spells make the gameplay interesting and dynamic. The gameplay suffers quite a bit in single player, though, and even though the price is cheap, the game does wear thin eventually.