Scarlet Tower – PC Review

Scarlet Tower – PC Review
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Genre: Vampire action roguelike
Developer: Pyxeralia LLC
Publisher: Pyxeralia LLC
Release Date: March 25th, 2024
Edited by AlexKnight2005

Every now and again, a game comes along that’s just so fun, influential, or just down right popular enough to generate an entire field worth of effective clones. Rarely are the clones good enough to generate a genre. This perfect storm is what we find ourselves right in the middle of thanks to a little known game called Vampire Survivors. The number of similar titles has exploded in recent years due to their easy development cycles. Scarlet Tower is one such example. Let’s dive in and find out whether it’s worth climbing the tower, or if this title should be left in the bargain bin.

First off, I must bring attention to just how glaringly beautiful the graphics are. The pixel art pops and everything is easily spotted against the 5 distinct level backgrounds you’ll be traveling through. There are options to change the opacity level of your skills if you have a hard time spotting hazards and enemies amidst the chaos. Every skill is distinct and the visual rush of watching all your flashy projectiles light up the entire screen leaving behind corpses in their wake is one of, if not the most satisfying things about this game. The opacity options and the ability to reduce flashing mean no one should have any visual related issues, but unfortunately this is where my praise ends and the journey into mediocrity begins.

Sound and music are kinda sorta just there and do the job, but I doubt you’ll remember any of the music or have any real audio related moments of pure bliss like the chest opening theme from Vampire Survivors. The music fits the theme though which is always a bonus. Ultimately though, music and sound are not the primary focus of this style of game, so as long as it works well enough I can’t really complain much, and these tracks and sounds do indeed work. As the music isn’t that memorable,, I found myself playing with it disabled more often than not, but this one just comes down to preference. I was also listening to a book while playing at times.

Now for the most important part for this style of game, the actual gameplay and control. Unfortunately, Scarlet Tower is quite formulaic and yet distinct at the same time, which, depending on how much you like referencing different screens and trying to plan builds, might not be so bad. Before starting a run, you have your choice of characters from the pool you have unlocked. Each character comes with a non-unique primary weapon, a unique ultimate skill, 2 different passives which each have 3 different runes to modify them, and finally, are of a given race that also applies bonuses and has a selection of runes to modify them. On top of this, you can select one of 3 unique additional passive effects in each of the 4 defensive and 4 offensive groups that apply to all characters. Most of the build planning happens before you even start your run.

During the run itself, you collect weapons, which each have their own unique basic attacks, and other support items that modify various mechanical parameters related to the classification they fall under. An example might be the twin mirrors alchemist item that boosts the effect of the unique alchemist weapon mechanic that regenerates your health when at low hp, or an elementalist time that boosts fire damage from all sources, including the pilgrim’s staff which attacks with hellfire. With the layers upon layers of different bonuses and passives to sift through, it’s very difficult to find your preferred playstyle. Much like similar titles, you can unlock weapon synergies or in this case, fusions. This time around, they aren’t just upgraded versions of their base counterparts with added effects, but entirely new weapons with completely different attack patterns.

In order to perform a fusion, you must have both of the required materials leveled up to their maximum, then simply find and open a chest. One prime example of how different fusion weapons can be from their material counterparts is the water staff pure elementalist fusion. Combine a fire staff which shoots explosive fireballs that deal area damage on impact with an ice staff that fires multiple piercing ice shards in a tight shotgun blast formation, and you get the water staff which fires a single water ball projectile that bounces between a large number of enemies before dissipating. There are no markers when selecting your level up rewards either so you’ll either have to memorize all the combinations, or keep referencing the glossary which shows them all from the beginning.

One final kicker here is that fusions may lose some of the properties from their bases. The water staff mentioned above, loses the burn effect from the fire staff so if you were building around burning your foes for extended damage over time, it may not be desirable to fuse away your damage like that. This level of pre-run complexity and lack of mid run information had me maxing out a random set of bonuses, then just picking my favorite weapons from my choices with no regard to fusions, or proper synergy between everything. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if the difficulty curve incentivized learning how to make proper builds, but unfortunately, you’ll probably find yourself bored with the game long before it gets hard enough to make you think.

There are 5 unique maps in the game, each having 10 levels of difficulty before unlocking an endless variant of the map. Each difficulty adds more enemies and makes them stronger, making your passive bonuses matter more, but they also give better rewards. The downside, you’ll find yourself completing the same map multiple times to unlock the next one, only to repeat that numerous times to finally unlock the next one, and so on. In my 12 hours (at time of writing) I have only seen 2 of the 5 maps . Granted, many of those runs failed, but I still had to complete the first map 3 times before even being allowed to look at the second one. Unless you like to grind through mindlessly easy maps to get to the more difficult parts that will engage the strategy part of your brain, this one will most likely be a skip for you.

Performance is solid and the game even runs quite well on the SteamDeck. I split my playtime between my pc and deck. I didn’t notice any issues however some have probably cropped up and been patched over the past couple of weeks as there was a decent sized bug fixing 1.0.1 patch released during this review period. The team isn’t quite done yet as there are plans for post launch support as well, so the future looks pretty good for this one.

With all this being said, Scarlet Tower is a beautiful yet frustrating journey into complexity that waits too long to make you engage fully with its many layers leading to a tedious grind that just happens to look very pretty. It’s worth a play if you can handle the grind, but if not, then it’s only $5 so you’re not breaking the bank by feasting your eyes on this gorgeous grind.

  • Numerous build options
  • Awesome music
  • Lots of meta progression


  • A lot of repetition required for progression
  • Bland early maps
  • Complex meta systems that aren’t explained very well

GlitchedVision gives Scarlet Tower a Drastik Measure of 7.0 out of 10.0 (70)