Tallowmere throws you straight into the game. After a simple title screen you find yourself in the hub world in front of a key and a few NPCs. Featuring Tallowmere herself, a merchant, a kitten sacrificer, and few other things to interact with, after you get the bearings of what this hub has to offer it’s time to enter the elevator and tackle the dungeon.
Armed with an axe, shield, and one health potion to start, it is then up to the player to progress through the randomly generated landscape of the dungeons. The goal is simple: there’s a door to open and an enemy in a room filled with acid traps and spike wheels you must kill to find the key for the previously mentioned door. Once you step through the door it’s time to do it all again. That is until you make it through a certain number of floors and a special event happens, these vary from fighting a Hydra to drinking some potions to boost your stats.
The enemies in Tarrowmere are no mere pushovers either; as I soon learned the shield is a necessity, mobs should be avoided, and elite warriors pack a real punch. Elite warriors being larger and more powerful variants of the standard enemies which when killed unlock elite chests found in that room.
As you progress through the dungeon enemies do become stronger, but all is not lost as so does the lone warrior. Defeated enemies drop souls which can be used to upgrade health, base damage, and then one other random attribute. Then there is also of course the weapons and armour that can be found in chests liberally placed across the dungeon or bought from the merchant who can be found locked away numerous times in the dungeon. Each weapon and piece of armour has its own set of stats which will have you constantly swapping out for the next best piece. It certainly becomes addictive as you search high and low and are filled with glee when you acquire that six star shield.
Of course like any dungeon crawler you can expect to pick up an assortment of weaponry from a typical fantasy setting. You start with an axe and have one type of attack, but can then pick up spiked clubs, ice wands, and daggers. This is the standard for the setting, but you can also make use of more exotic items like rocket launchers, grenades, and katanas. Each weapon is pleasantly unique and due to this you’ll never find yourself sticking to one type of weapon and instead cycling through your collection to find what is best for the job. Grenades are perfect for throwing over walls to get a head start on a bunch of enemies, whereas the katana is excellent for taking on flying enemies as it has the interesting trait of making you teleport from enemy to enemy.
Each weapon does a good job of having its own role, but personally I found the dagger to be lacking compared to the rest. Giving you the ability to turn invisible and stab an enemy in the back just seemed like too lengthy a process to be practical, as the backstab would one hit kill a standard enemy, but not for elites.
Tallowmere doesn’t put much on the table. The soundtrack is totally old school and so are the visuals, but does this make it a bad game? Quite simply, not at all. It’s easy to pick up and play, but offers a challenge that is incredibly addictive. After you die it tracks your progress and as soon as you lose you’ll want to take another stab at getting further in the dungeon. Then once you die, you try again. Or you can again with one of the challenges put in place, like only using a certain weapon or having no potions and getting as far as you can with 100 health points. Then of course there is the local co-op which works well.
The developer of Tallowmere, Chris McFarland, clearly knew what he was setting out to make and hit the right notes in most areas. However, the game does have some issues. The maps are randomly generated and generally this is never an issue, but enemy and hazard placement can occasionally seem a little off and lead to an early defeat. Then the boss fights can be a bit lacking as it isn’t that tricky to pick up the pattern and take them down with ease, but if you haven’t come across or had the opportunity to get a particular weapon they can be incredibly hard to defeat. None of these issues are major, but they can be frustrating and do take away from the fun from time to time.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Tallowmere was provided by the developer for this Tallowmere review.