Tower of Time is a CRPG that came to the scene in 2018 and it's now available for consoles. Is it worth your time and more importantly, should you pick it up for consoles rather than the PC version?
Tower of Time is a classic RPG which contains many true role-playing elements. You start out playing through a short prologue where you, as a young boy, explore some nearby ruins only to find the base of a tower. Actually, the tower is inverted with the top of the tower being miles below ground. 1000 years ago, something flipped the tower over and forced it below the ground. It's a wonder how the tower didn't just shatter completely.
Anyway, a lot of information is thrown at you at once. Apparently, the land of Artara is going through some post-apocalyptic fallout. Clouds of ash block the sun and everyone is suffering through famine. However, some hardy vegetables survive and that's why the people haven't died out completely. The fallout is somehow connected to the use of magic which was discovered 1000 years ago when nodes of energy appeared across the land which could be absorbed into peoples' bodies and used to perform extraordinary feats of magic. The land is divided into 5 realms: humans live in the central plains, dwarves live in the mountains to the west, elves live in the forests to the east, giant frostlings live in the tundra to the north, and the shadows live in the desert to the south.
Other than that, you don't know a whole lot at the beginning. You have to descend the tower to learn more about the story and I thought this pacing was well-executed. Tower of Time teases you with just enough new information from level to level to keep you interested. That is, until level 4 when it throws a twist so bizarre that I couldn't believe what I was listening to. I enjoyed the story overall but I also found it extremely silly and there were also a few plot holes.
Now grown up, you sit at the base of the tower on a crystal throne where you control a party of champions who you can contact telepathically. Intriguing, isn't it? You start with 2 champions but as you progress through the campaign, the roster expands to 7 members: Kane, Maeve, Aeric, Rakhem, Boron, Whisper, and Kaela. Each party member has their own stats and skill sets. For instance, Kane is a paladin who protects the party and wears heavy armor while Aeric is a druid who supports the party with useful spells.
Each hero can level up to level 15 but it doesn't work like you would expect. You gain no experience in Tower of Time and instead, you level up using gold. So, you can choose exactly who you want to level up but it becomes more difficult to level a single hero because the cost becomes higher with each level. You also need to find certain blueprints to increase the level cap. Plus, resources in Tower of Time are finite as you can't find more gold or items on each level than what is given to you.
Apart from your level, your weapons and armor control how strong your party is. Countless RPGs have similar armor systems but it still works well in Tower of Time. You can choose to focus on stats like weapon damage, crit chance, armor, elemental resistance, and more. This opens the door for many interesting builds. My favorite is the mage, Whisper. I just gave her a bunch of items with mana regen and increased mastery. I managed to reach 50 mastery which gave her a big boost to skill damage and mana regen and with that, she turned into a killing machine because I just keep spamming her magic missiles ability.
Anyway, the tower has 10 floors and it contains plenty of beautiful environments throughout. Each floor is pretty long so when you add up all of them plus the prologue and the final boss, it turns out to be one lengthy game. Speaking of which, everything in Tower of Time seems to take a lot of time from the many long battles to the crafting and the slow walking around the tower to how you seem to constantly pick up items and check if they're better than what you're already wearing.
I feel the developers did such a good job with the core armor and leveling system yet Tower of Time really falls apart when you look at the details so let me go through these problems one-by-one:
- When moving about the tower with the analogue sticks, there's a very noticeable input delay. The same goes for picking up gold and opening chests as you have to hold A for a good quarter-second.
- In combat, there is no way to quick-cast your skills. I wish I could just assign my favorite skill to a button.
- Like many other isometric console games, I wish I could just plug in a mouse and keyboard and play that way since it's not well-adapted for using a controller.
- On floor 5, there's a sliding bridge puzzle and during the puzzle, you need to press some levers then the camera goes high into the air and shows you what bridges are moving. At least I think that's what happens. Unfortunately, the camera goes so high that it's outside the draw distance. Sure, it's funny but also sad.
- There is no run button. I wish I could run faster, you know?
- The weapons and armor could use some kind of power rating so you can easily check if you should equip new items. Also, I wish there was an auto-equip option so my characters could simply optimise the best loadout from their inventory. My goodness, that would be such a nice time save!
- Exploring the tower is often flat because it doesn't feel like the environments are living. Enemies never respawn so once you clear every enemy on each floor, there's no danger at all.
- There are many repetitive battles and no mini-games and such to break up the pacing. There are a few quests on each floor but they're mostly simple environmental puzzles and fetch-quests.
I want to give Tower of Time a thumbs-up as I enjoyed the gear and leveling systems and the story has a strong impact. Unfortunately, it's not well-optimised for console and suffers from too many fundamental problems so pick it up for PC if you're feeling adventurous.
- + Very cool story about magic that's exceptionally well-paced
- + Lots of skills and heroes to explore
- + Putting together cool builds is rewarding
- - The tower's environments feel flat
- - Many repetitive battles
- - Noticeable input delay