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I saw the traveler make his way toward the monolith, That thin gash amidst the clouds; An open seam between heaven and earth that eluded the Eye of God. Or perhaps it had not; perhaps it beckoned from one realm To the other, wedded And ruled as one; For look how clean it splits the horizon 'twain, absorbs it, Makes it Strange, An indomitable beam, A tower of heaven.
— Journal of an unknown traveller
An indie platforming game made in 2009 by askiisoft. Also known as 天国の塔 (Tengoku no Tou, same meaning).In this game, you play as a humanoid creature who attempts to scale a gigantic tower against the wishes of the tower's resident god. Said deity attempts to put an end to your progress by enforcing certain laws, such as "Thou shalt not walk left" or "Thou shalt not touch yellow blocks". The player must not only time their jumps and navigate platforms of varying difficulty, but must ensure that they adhere to the laws brought forth by the deity.The game's overall feel was designed to invoke old Game Boy games, with a deliberate greenish monochrome colour scheme and 8-bit style music. Oh and difficulty as well.Can be downloaded here. A Flash port of the game with a few extra features, including a Level Editor, can also be found on Newgroundshere.It later received a sequel/Spiritual Successor, Pause Ahead.
Exact Words: One infamous law: "Thou shalt not WALK left." Jumping and/or falling left, on the other hand...
Fake Difficulty: The Book of Laws invoke this. Eventually you get a law that forbids you from re-reading the book of laws. The deity DOES mention that he's never had to utilize the book before. The book shatters on the last stage thus permitting you to walk left and touch the sides of blocks once more. Also, see Interface Screw.
Fission Mailed: Fakes out an Unwinnable situation in one room, where the deity loses its temper with you and proclaims you'll suffer fiery torment. It's a simple room that would normally involve just a short trek to the level exit as usual, but the exit is caked in vegetation and by that time, you're forced to obey a law that forbids you from touching living things, which includes said vegetation. The solution? One of the window sills has no vegetation present and is the real level exit, since you can land and walk about on it, unlike other windows in the game.
Gainax Ending: It's hard to tell what the ending symbolizes. The tower falls and not much else is seen other than the hero letting a butterfly touch his finger, which either symbolizes that he no longer has to abide by the Book of Laws, although it could also symbolize that the protagonist has mastery over the deity, who was also shown to be a butterfly.
He Knows About Timed Hits: The deity tells you the controls in the first level and how to save your game in the third. In the Newgrounds version, it doesn't do either of these things. Both versions have it tell you how to review the rules.
He's Back: "The Book of Laws shatters." A possible moment for the player, mostly.
He Who Fights Monsters: Played with by the deity, who declares that if you're going to scale the tower and claim the reward, you must "shed your humanity", and thus, a law forbids you from touching living things, which amount to the vegetation and roaming butterflies.
The ending reinforces the knowledge that the laws were revoked with the book's destruction, as he tenderly lets a butterfly rest on his finger with no ill effect.
Homage: To the Game Boy platformer games of old, right down to the colour scheme consisting of only black and greenish-yellow. Except for the full color ending.
The music is also 8-bit classic. Except for the ending's almost Tear Jerker piano solo of "Atop the World".
Level Editor: The Flash port comes with one, which unlocks upon clearing the game. In order to share the level you make, though, you have to beat it first.
Loophole Abuse: At one point, you are forced to obey a law that forbids you from walking left. Of course, the player is meant to discover that the law never says anything about not jumping or falling left.
Mad God: The Tower God starts slipping into this as you ascend the higher levels of the tower.
Multiple Endings: Depending on whether you found both the secrets or not, the deity's final words may change. That is to say, finding both secrets results in an ending that describes you "emerging with vast riches". In the Newgrounds version, beating the game with all three secrets will add an additional screen after the result screen.
Nintendo Hard: Since it invokes old Game Boy games, this is in effect. You have to combine Platforming skills with adherence to the laws. Said laws also escalate in cruelty, from simply not being allowed to touch yellow blocks, to not being able to walk left, not touching blocks or walls from the sides, not touching living beings and eventually not being allowed to look at the Book of Laws again. At least until the final level destroys the book and revokes all but one of the laws. In the Newgrounds version, all the laws are revoked, but the obstacle remains (albeit changed).
No Name Given: There has been no name given for the deity. The protagonist was also unnamed until the Newgrounds Flash port. According to the level editor, his name is Eid.
One-Hit-Point Wonder: Contact with a spike or saw or breaking one of the laws will result in instant smiting.
Platform Hell: Basically the whole game. There's two levels where, if you don't make a move within the first second, you die. The first of those levels has an exit to the mere left of you. But this is the same level where you're forbidden from walking left. How do you beat the level? Abuse the loophole.
And then the final level combines spike traps, skull blocks, saw blades, various other vicious traps, and a classic Bottomless Pit, and is one of the longest levels to boot.
According to the composer's Bandcamp page, "Atop the World" was composed first, as a piano improvisation, and all the other songs are based on that melody.
Retcon: The Newgrounds version changed the golden blocks in the final level to skull blocks, in order to fill the Plot Hole of golden blocks still killing you after the Book of Laws is broken.
The composer explained this (spoilers in the comments) on Youtube as well:
Rur539: Huh... I know in the newgrounds version in level 11 the golden blocks were skulls, but since they are gold/yellow in the playthrough and the Book of Laws shatters, wouldn't that mean you could have walked on them?
flashygoodness: That was a problem in the original game. The yellow blocks still killed you after the rules were nullified in the original version, hence the decision to change them to a different type of block in the new version.
Villainous Breakdown: The deity gradually gets more desperate to stop you the further you get into the tower, enforcing crueller laws in his anger.
Particularly notable is this line: "How dare you... How dare you continue to live? Is it merely to spite me? You damn fool. Those covetous enough to seek my reward deserve only fiery torment. You will share that fate soon enough."