Tip Top (PC) Review
Fun, replayable and challenging
Practice mode to hone your skills before starting the actual campaign
Completely resets all progress once you died (demotion would have been nice)
Challenges are surprise-based (like accidentally landing with the wrong hand without further knowledge of what will come next) rather than skill-dependent.
Tip Top is a roguelike mountain climbing game where your only objective is to reach the top of the mountain by grabbing on the rock blocks on the surface. It appears to be a normal easy peasy climbing game at first glance, but it gets (unsatisfyingly) harder as you step up to the next stages.
As soon as you launch the game and enter into campaign mode, it immediately takes you to the tutorial level. No story, no dialogues, no plot, just straight up to the basics. You will only need 3 buttons on your controller, LB for the left hand, RB for the right hand, and A for the jump and chalking up your sweaty hand. You will hold LB and RB simultaneously, and let go of one button to unlatch the grip. And then, move that hand to any direction of your choice with the analog stick (so it’s 4 buttons you need) while you hold the button for the other hand because releasing both hands will lead you to the fall. And hover your free hand onto a rock block, then press the button for that hand to grip. Do the same thing with the other hand, to make your way up to the destination.
If you can’t reach the upper rock wall, you can try jumping up by holding A while holding on to rocks with both your hand. Some rocks are big enough to place both hands and some are not, but that is not the problem. As long as you have your hands on something, hold A to charge your jump and release before time runs out. Although the controls are easy to follow, you might probably need a few attempts to get yourself familiar with the system.
Now, the villain of the game is the endurance bar/stamina pool. With every grasp, your stamina will slowly deplete, and it is the most important thing to make it to the top before it completely draineds. Both hands have a stamina pool of their own, and the longer you hold on the more stamina gets used. But fear not, you can recharge the stamina by selecting the appropriate hand on the chalk powder pocket on your character’s waist, and hold A to recharge. Keep in mind that the total pool gets lesser and lesser with every recharge and be sure your other hand has plenty of stamina left because it takes some time to restore and you may run out of stamina on the hand while doing so.
However, there is a special type of shiny rock that costs less stamina while you put your hands on them. So it’s always a good idea to chalk up your hand while you find yourself holding on to them. I just wish that the developers make those rocks a little more distinguishable from the ordinary ones. Their shiny surfaces are a little hard to spot and it makes a different sound when you land on them. Jumping is also a good option to move up, but it seems to costs more stamina than climbing, and it requires approximately half of the total stamina pool to execute.
One key element is you must hook your clip to anchors as you climb, failing to do so will cost you nothing. That is if you can make it to the top successfully. But if you fall without your rope hooked to the rope, the campaign will reset and you will have to start from the beginning. That means every level you have beaten will go to waste. At the same time, you might not have the time and opportunity to hook your rope all the time since some of the anchors are located outside your climbing path, and extending to it will cost you extra stamina which should be reserved for reaching the top. This feature adds the thrill of rock climbing in real life, yet I find the punishment somewhat extreme.
Overall, Tip Top is a simple and challenging rogue climbing experience and you might find playing it on repeat once you get the feel of it, although some may find it disappointing because of the harsh reset system.