Towers is a Facebook game from Xi-Art Inc. It’s currently showing up in the “Trending” section of Facebook’s App Center as well as sidebar advertising modules within the App Center, and is also available for iOS and Android devices. This review is based on the Facebook incarnation of the game.
Towers is a cards-based solitaire game somewhat similar to PopCap’s Solitaire Blitz and standalone downloadable card games such as Big Fish’s Fairway Solitaire and Subsoap’s Faerie Solitaire. The basic mechanics are the same — players have a single “draw” pile of cards, from which one is face-up at all times, and cards from the on-screen arrangement must be matched to the draw pile by clicking on those of a value one higher or lower than the current face-up card. Kings wrap around to aces and vice-versa. If there is no card available to play onto the current face-up card, the player must click on the draw pile to take a new face-up card. The round is over when one of three conditions are met: the draw pile is exhausted, the 120-second time limit expires or the player clears the arrangement of cards on screen. At the conclusion of a round, if the player has met the target score — which usually only happens if they successfully clear the screen, due to the significant bonuses this provides — they may move on to another round, otherwise the game is over and their best score is recorded on a weekly tournament leaderboard.
The game features an experience level system that slowly creeps up with each completed game — more experience is earned for higher scores. Upon each level up, the player unlocks a “skill” which affects the gameplay in a minor way — usually by increasing their final score by 1% at a time. At level 3, the player unlocks the ability to earn soft currency with each game, though they may not actually spend this soft currency on powerups until they have earned at least 1,000 units of it. Given that an average game barely nets double-digit quantities of soft currency, earning 1,000 of these silver coins will take a very long time without making an in-app purchase. This only unlocks the first of three powerups, too — the others must be unlocked by using the previous ones ten times, which will require a significant total amount of soft currency to achieve. This rather questionable pacing is clearly a rather unsubtle attempt at nudging the player in the direction of the in-app purchase options (which are, it’s worth noting, available even when there’s nothing to spend the currency on) but thankfully the game is perfectly enjoyable and playable without the use of powerups.
The game also features a hard currency which is used to restore the game’s “lives” system. The player may have up to five lives on hand at any one time, and these restore over time — they may also acquire additional lives by inviting and asking for help from friends. The game regularly bugs players to invite new players after a game is concluded and seemingly forces them to share new high scores on their Timeline — however, despite the way the interface appears to lack a close button when this popup appears, clicking anywhere except the share button dismisses the option without sharing. This is not particularly intuitive and will probably lead to many players simply clicking the share button by default, but at least the option is there, however obscure it may be.
On the whole, Towers is a solid (if largely unoriginal) solitaire game with some significant pacing and balance issues. It’s well presented, with a simple but effective vaguely “art deco” style about it, and it has an undeniable addictive quality. Given the slow pace of unlocking new features, however, it’s somewhat questionable as to how long players will stick with it. When similar titles such as Solitaire Blitz show their whole hand from the outset and consequently allow players to make an immediate decision as to whether or not they would like to sink money into the game, Towers’ agonizingly slow unlock process simply feels like an overenthusiastic attempt to retain players in the long term.
Towers currently occupies the 100,000+ MAU tier with a rank of 2,100 and the 10,000+ DAU tier with a rank of 1,289. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.
A decent solitaire game, but it remains to be seen if the balance issues and agonizingly slow pace of unlocks will put off players in the long term.