How To Play

The basic objective of TowerFall is to defeat your opponents in archery combat. Battle takes place on a 2-dimensional field on static levels that fill the entire area of a 4:3 ratio screen. Screen wrap features on levels with open borders, which sees players and objects move from one end of the screen to the other when crossing the border, either vertically or horizontally. More specific explanations of the game rules of each mode can be found in the relevant main page. This page will detail the basic controls of the game as well as advanced techniques that are utilized in all modes.

Game Pad Controls

TowerFall is designed for play using a game pad. The PC version supports many different controller types. The default controls are as follows:

controller740.png

Keyboard Controls

The PC version also supports keyboard input for up to 4 players, customizable in the options menu. The default keyboard setup is for one player using the following inputs:

keyboardControls.png

Basics

Move and Aim

Movement and aiming is done by either the Directional Pad or the Left Analog Stick and is constrained to the 8 ordinal directions.

Jump

Players can jump when standing on a platform. Holding the Jump button will result in a higher jump. Holding Jump when bouncing off of enemies or opponents will also result in a higher bounce.

Opponents and most enemies can be killed by stomping on them from above. Stomping will also break shields. Stomping on teammates does no harm. Stomping is colloquially referred to as "booping".

Shoot

Holding the Shoot button will show an aiming reticle that indicates which of the 8 ordinal directions the player is aiming; when the button is released an arrow is fired in the given direction. Aiming can be cancelled by dodging or by pressing Down when standing on a platform. Players can quick draw by swiftly pressing the Shoot button combined with their desired direction input. Arrows will automatically seek targets, altering their trajectory slightly as they fly. The length that the Shoot button is held does not affect the velocity of arrows. When holding the Shoot button players can not influence their movement and will remain stationary when standing on platforms.

Pressing Shoot when not holding any arrows will make a small X appear above the player to indicate that they are out of arrows.

Alt Shoot

The Alt Shoot button functions in the exact same way as the regular Shoot button, however it will detonate any Trigger Arrows that the player has previously fired; all active Trigger Arrows will detonate simultaneously with a single press of Alt Shoot.

Dodge and Catch

Pressing any of the of Dodge buttons will result in the player performing a short dash in the direction they are facing. Combined with a direction input allows the player to dodge in any of the 8 ordinal directions. Dodging has a short cooldown period that prevents players from dodging in quick succession. If one or more arrows strike the player whilst they are dodging then they will catch them and the arrows will enter their inventory.

Arrow Toggle (Inventory)

Players will fire first the arrow indicated at the far left of their inventory which is displayed above their head when not empty. If the player collects more than one type of arrow then the arrow types will be automatically grouped in their inventory. Any non-standard arrow types that are newly collected will be added to the start of the player's inventory. Pressing the Arrow Toggle button will cycle the player's arrow inventory, moving the leftmost type to the right end with each press.

Other Abilities

Arrow Steal

If you are holding no arrows and you bump into an opponent who has arrows then you will steal the arrow that is at the start of their inventory.

Arrow Share

In Team Deathmatch and the Co-op game modes, arrows can be shared between teammates by colliding with them from any direction; the player holding the greater number of arrows by a margin of at least 2 will pass the last arrow in their inventory.

Duck, AKA Crouch

Players can duck by holding Down when standing on a platform. A player's hitbox is slightly reduced when ducking allowing for evasion of arrows. Ducking also extinguishes the dim light radius that all archers emit and hides you arrow inventory. Ducking during darkness makes the player practically invisible.

Dodge-slide

Ducking and pressing a Dodge button will execute a horizontal dodge-slide in the direction the player is facing. A dodge-slide lasts as long as a regular dodge and still allows the player to catch arrows, though has the added benefit or moving slightly faster and further in a smaller crouching stance. The dodge-slide also allows players to move through one tile high openings. A player dodge sliding off of a platform will remain level with the platform, falling only at the end of the animation. Dodge-slides can also be executed while pressing a combination of down and forward, negating the need to duck.

Some archers have a rolling animation as opposed to a slide, though they are functionally identical.

Fast-fall

When airborne a player can increase their fall speed by holding the Down direction. The archer's appearance will change to indicate their increased speed. Fast-falling can be combined with a forward direction while still maintaining the maximum fall speed.

Fall-through

The Ghost Platforms that appear in the Amaranth levels can be fallen through when standing on them by holding Down and pressing Jump. If the player presses Down and Jump on the same frame they land on the platform, they can fall through without losing momentum.

Wall Jump

Pressing Jump when airborne and next to a wall will execute a Wall Jump that pushes the player up and away from the wall. Wall jumps can be executed in quick succession allowing for quick vertical traversal of the map. They are useful for platforming but can also throw players off if performed accidentally because the wall jump forces the player to move automatically upwards and away from the wall for a number of frames, potentially into danger.

Wall Jump auto move duration 12 frames (0.200 seconds)

Wall Slide

Holding the direction towards a wall will result in the player sliding down it, reducing their fall speed significantly. Pressing Jump in this position will result in a Wall Jump.

Ledge-cling, AKA "The Koala"

Holding the direction towards a ledge will allow a player to cling to it for as long as the direction is held, in a position colloquially known as "the koala". Pressing Jump from this position will result in a jump directly upwards, otherwise, the equivalent of a wall-jump can be performed by reversing the direction being held at the same time as pressing Jump. Dodging can also be performed in this position and the ledge-cling will be maintained after the dodge. Attempting to fire will release the player from the ledge.

Ledge-slip

If a player is standing close to the edge of a platform then holding Down will force the player to slip down from the ledge. There is a slight delay before the slip occurs, giving the player a chance to shoot an arrow downwards over the ledge if they are trying to do that rather than slip off it.

How much on ledge for slip to be valid 3 pixels or less
Delay before slip occurs 4 frames (0.067 seconds)

Advanced Techniques

These techniques assume the player has a basic understanding of TowerFall's mechanics. They may be useful in advanced competitive play or in reducing times in the Trials mode.

Buffered Jump

A jump can be input up to 6 frames before coming in contact with a surface, which allows players to buffer jump inputs to ensure that the jump is executed at the earliest possible moment. Since ground friction is higher than air friction, this can be useful for maintaining forward momentum (i.e. of a Hyper Jump, see below) by insuring there is as little contact with the ground as possible.

Buffered Jump window 6 frames (0.100 seconds)

Delayed Jump, AKA Stored Jump

A jump can be input several frames after leaving contact with a surface, allowing players to delay jump maneuvers such that they are executed in mid air. If the last surface the player was standing on is a Jump Pad then the delayed jump will have the added properties of the Jump Pad. If the player was last touching the surface during a dodge, the grace period is twice as long. Combined with Dodge Cancelling (see below), this can become very powerful, allowing the player to jump a significant distance after leaving a surface.

Normal Stored Jump window 6 frames (0.100 seconds)
Post-Dodge Stored Jump window 12 frames (0.200 seconds)

Twitch Grab, AKA Twitch Catch

Refers to a player catching an arrow after it has hit them. There is a grace period of 3 frames after being hit that a dodge can be executed resulting in a catch.

Twitch Catch window 3 frames (0.05 seconds)

Dodge Stalling

A regular dodge lasts 20 frames seconds, with a cooldown period of 25 frames. Holding a Dodge button will extend a dodge for an extra 5 frames, allowing the player to catch arrows that would otherwise strike them during the start of their dodge cooldown. Dodge stalling brings the player to a complete stop and the dodge cooldown period will only begin at the end of the dodge.

Minimum Dodge duration (without cancelling - see below) 20 frames (0.333 seconds)
Maximum Dodge duration (through stalling) 25 frames (0.417 seconds)
Dodge Cooldown duration 25 frames (0.417 seconds)

Double Tapping

Since there are two valid shoot buttons, it's possible to shoot two arrows at almost the exact same time by sliding your thumb across both buttons in quick succession. If done perfectly it will appear as you've only shot one arrow. This is best used for countering Tinks because the first arrow will tink and the second will continue seeking your target.

Dodge Cancelling

A dodge can be cancelled at any point after the dodge has begun by two differing means: pressing the same or another Dodge button (tap-cancel), or pressing Jump if the player is alongside a surface (jump-cancel). Doing so releases the player from the dodge animation so that they may act without waiting for the dodge to end, with the caveat that they can no longer catch arrows, becoming vulnerable from the moment they cancel. A cancelled dodge also enters the cooldown period earlier, allowing the player to execute successive dodges earlier.

Minimum Dodge duration with cancelling 2 frames (0.033 seconds)
Minimum time between non-cancelled Dodges 45 frames (0.75 seconds)
Minimum time between frame-perfect dodge-cancels 27 frames (0.45 seconds)

The following techniques all make varying use of dodge cancelling.

Jump-cancelled Dodge

A jump-cancel refers to cancelling a dodge with a jump. A jump-cancelled dodge is possible if the player is alongside a surface or has otherwise input a delayed jump. This technique can help with evading opponents after dodge catching arrows. A peculiarity of the jump-cancel is that if the player is touching a wall when jump-cancelling they will always perform a wall-jump, even if their feet are touching ground. Wall-jumping will not cancel the dodge, instead the player will continue their dodge and still be able to catch arrows during the wall jump.

Jump-cancelled Dodge-slide, AKA "Super Jump"

A Super Jump combines a dodge-slide with a jump-cancel. The player must perform a dodge-slide immediately followed by a jump-cancel. The added momentum from the dodge-slide will propel the player forward into the air a great distance.

Tap-cancelled Dodge, AKA Hyper Dodge, AKA Hyper Dash

A tap-cancel refers to cancelling a dodge by pressing the same or another Dodge button and is the foundation to many advanced techniques. The technique is most often executed by pressing two Dodge buttons in quick succession, for example Left Trigger, quickly followed by Right Trigger (a method colloquially known as "galloping").

Tap-cancelling a dodge has the additional quality of maintaining the momentum of the dodge at the point that it is cancelled; cancelling immediately on the first frame after the dodge is input gives the fastest momentum gain. Pressing two Dodge buttons on the same frame will not result in a cancel. Because of the extreme speed involved, tap-cancel techniques are often referred to with the "hyper" prefix.

Tap-cancelled Forward-dodge

Tap-cancelling a dodge in a forward direction, either on a platform or in the air will give the player a forward momentum boost. It is possible to dash across a platform although surface friction reduces the player's momentum much faster than if they were airborne.

Tap-cancelled Forward-dodge Jump

Tap-cancelling a forward-dodge into a jump can achieve a momentum boost slightly greater than that of a Super Jump.

Tap-cancelled Dodge-slide, AKA "Skating"

Tap-cancelling a dodge-slide gives a greater momentum boost than a regular tap-cancelled dodge and will result in the player speeding across the ground. Using this maneuver it is actually possibly to speed in front of and be killed by an arrow you had previously just fired.

Tap-cancelled Dodge-slide Jump, AKA "Hyper Jump"

A Hyper Jump is a Super Jump combined with a tap-cancel. It's executed by performing a dodge-slide, followed immediately by a tap-cancel, and then a jump. This method gives the highest momentum boost to the player allowing for jumps of huge distances. This is the best way to gain massive speed and launch yourself across the map, since slides are faster than dodges and air friction is lower than ground friction.

Tap-cancelled Upwards-dodge

A tap-cancelled upwards-dodge can achieve heights just barely greater than a regular jump, though at a faster speed. Executed on the ground, a tap-cancelled upwards-dodge can substitute as a quicker alternate jump; combined with a jump or in the air, it can serve as a kind of double jump, propelling the player higher.

By performing successive tap-cancelled dodges in an upwards direction the player can "hover" indefinitely in the air. In fact, if one masters the timing it is possible to gradually rise higher into air using only tap-cancelled upwards-dodges.

Hyper Wing, AKA Rocket Jump

If a player possesses wings they can perform a technique that sees them fly rapidly upwards into the air. It is performed by jumping with wings when airborne followed immediately by an upwards tap-cancelled dodge.

Elevator Jump

The Elevator Jump sees a player tap-cancel an upwards-dodge, followed by a delayed jump, and ending with a second dodge (tap-cancelled or otherwise) at the peak of their jump. If performed correctly the player can reach great heights starting from a standing position, practically 3 times the height of a regular jump. The timing requires precision as the second dodge has to come after the end of the first cancelled dodge's cooldown.

Tap-cancelled Downwards-dodge

Tap-cancelling a dodge downwards in the air can result in speeds just slightly faster than regular fast-falling, though the added momentum is quickly lost.

Wall Jump Cancel

Since wall jumping does not cancel a dodge, it is possible to cancel a dodge after a mid-dodge wall jump in order to gain the boost of the wall jump auto move upon cancelling. For maximum gain the player should hold up and away from the wall, and keep the jump button held to counteract gravity. This technique is tough to pull off well and hard to determine when best to use, so it is one of the least seen techs in the game at the current stage of the meta.

Miracle Grab, AKA Miracle Catch, AKA Catch-cancelling

A miracle grab refers to cancelling a dodge immediately after catching an arrow by either jump-cancelling or tap-cancelling; a special sound is heard whenever a miracle grab is performed. In practice, a miracle grab allows the player to execute dodge cancel maneuvers combined with arrow catches. Catching arrows rapidly reduces the momentum of a dodge and thus dodge cancel techniques that depend on momentum can be exponentially more difficult to perform off of a miracle grab. Turning a twitch grab into a miracle grab cancel technique is perhaps the most demanding technique in all of TowerFall.

Miracles are primarily useful for three things:

  1. Avoiding Staggers: Miracling out of a catch allows the player to keep moving or change direction, sometimes giving them space to dodge the second arrow of a stagger-shot.
  2. Regain ability to shoot sooner: Since you can't shoot during a dodge, miracling can allow the player to grab an arrow and quickly shoot it back at the opponent without having to wait for the dodge to end.
  3. Maintain your approach: If a player going on the aggressive, due to arrow advantage or positioning, miracling arrows allows that player to maintain their momentum during their approach, preventing the opponent from being able to escape to go collect more arrows and even out the advantage.

When not to miracle and how to counter:

  1. If an opponent is spamming arrows it's a bad idea to try miracling because after catching the first arrow the subsequent arrow(s) will land a hit. In this case it's better to dodge stall or evade.
  2. If you're on the defensive and a Tink could work just as well, it's often better to do that because you can maintain your escape without entering dodge cooldown.
  3. One way to counter miracles if you're at arrow advantage is to stagger arrows more closely together, something between spam and normal stagger timing. Some players use Double Taps, though if the arrows are spaced too closely together the opponent may just miracle them both in one catch.
Catch window for frame-perfect miracle 3 (twitch grab) + 2 (pre-cancel dodge) = 5 frames (0.083 seconds)

Further Reading

For competitive strategies utilizing advanced techniques see the Competitive Strategies page.

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