A freaky-familiar good time
Being the landlord (at least a responsible one) of a hybrid commercial/residential isn’t easy. Keeping the tenants happy is a constant struggle in itself; to say nothing of the responsibilities of restocking store shelves, cleaning up after the creature that lives in the basement, and fending off incessant monster attacks. But a job’s a job. And while the job in-question feels a bit familiar, it doesn’t make Freak Tower any less entertaining.
The goal of Freak Tower is to, well, build a tower. Floor by floor, players need to construct new rooms, attract new weirdoes to work and live in them, and keep the money flowing. Keeping the shelves full in a given store (or preferably all of them) will ensure that the coins keep rolling in as more and more visitors come by to shop; however, it takes a certain amount of real time for the orders to come in. Each resident will also have a job preference (food, retail, recreation, service), and making them work in the kind of store that suits them will speed up the restocking process as well as offer bonus discounts when buying more goods. Sound familiar? It probably does, because it’s an awful lot like Tiny Tower. However, while the core concept is nothing new, there are a bunch of little extra touches that make it feel a bit more unique.
It doesn’t take long for Freak Tower to let some of the crazy loose. At any given point, players can draw giant monsters to their tower and attempt to take them out. It’s a bizarre mini-game where the oversized aggressor starts climbing the tower while all the denizens throw junk at it and the player starts dropping nets, bombs, and the like. If it can be bested before it reaches the bait on the roof, there’s a big cash reward to be had. Plus, some of the participating floors may receive a level increase, which boosts productivity and reduces costs. Each of these critters has a categorical weakness as well (takes bonus damage on retail floors, etc.), so knowing when to try and slow them down makes a difference. It’s not incredibly compelling, but it certainly breaks up the monotony of item management.
The slot machine elevator is another nice touch. Yes, “slot machine elevator.” There’s a gigantic one sitting in the lobby, and at any time, players can tap on it to get things rolling. Each result will attract someone to the tower, and if they happen to be bound for a vacant apartment floor, they’ll become a new addition to the family/workforce. Match three of a kind and special characters will show up, such as the delivery man who will instantly finish stoking an item, or the critic who will draw customers to a store in droves. There’s absolutely no reason not to keep fiddling with the slot machine, as it’s both something to occupy time and can be very beneficial.
The familiar gameplay of Freak Tower might be off-putting to some, but I honestly didn’t have a problem with it. My biggest issue was more with the time it takes for tasks to complete. Even the most basic items can take an hour or more to stock, which leaves the option of either doing something else or trying to keep myself busy with the slot machine or monster hunts. Problem is the slot machine, while incredibly handy, isn’t exactly exciting to use, and the monster hunts quickly become impossible to complete without a great deal of more upgrades. So after about an hour or so of taking down fire lobsters and tiny Cthulhus, the whole process comes to a grinding halt until more floors can be constructed and more staff acquired. Which just leaves the slot machine; and as I’ve said, it’s not all that exciting.
Freak Tower is an interesting take on an iOS classic that adds just enough of its own flare to make things interesting. The only problem is that the pacing drags a good deal of the fun out of it when attempting to play for longer than a minute or two at a time. So long as it’s played in small bursts, though, it’s actually quite enjoyable.