Developer: Event Horizon
Publisher: Event Horizon
Release Date: 12th April, 2018
Lately RPG genre lives through resurgence of sorts, what with titles like Pillars of Eternity, Tyranny, Shadowrun Returns series, etc. coming to the scene. So I would say that it takes a really good game to compare to big kids on the block and to take its place in my heart. And, without a doubt, Tower of Time managed to do just that.
To be honest, I don’t really like dungeon crawlers’ genre, as they feel too grindy and combat-focused for me, while I enjoy more story-oriented games. So I didn’t hold any expectations for Tower of Time, seeing it more like another Diablo clone with a few original gimmicks. But as I’ve played it, I found myself immersed in the story and characters. Those, while not the most original out there, still managed to make me believe in them and to enjoy them. But first things first, I’ll talk your ears off about story later.
To start off, Tower of Time is an isometric RPG with 3D graphics. You have a party of heroes (4 maximum), Affinity meter (more about it later), an interesting level up system and crafting. All of that seems like a pretty standard RPG fare, right? Well, yes, but devs decided to experiment a little and added in a mix some pretty good dungeon crawling systems (like randomly generated loot and crafting), and an intriguing battle system that feels like an RTS for me. And, the most important thing is, they’ve managed to get it all working! So, let’s take a closer look at what they’ve done.
First and foremost, party management. You can have 8 heroes (or champions, by in-game terminology). All of them have their own unique abilities and roles in the battle, as well as differing personalities, which will eventually clash and it will be up to you to sort all of that out. That’s where affinity meter comes into play. Basically, affinity is how much a character agrees with your directions, goals and methods. Strong affinity adds a bonus to your champions’ stats, low – a malus. Not every champion would like your decisions, so you will have to choose whether you want to have a few characters with strong affinities or have a mediocre one but with every character.
The game itself takes place in an abandoned ancient tower, an enormous thing containing a lot of ancient secrets, treasures, traps and enemies. Each level holds a teleport, so you can always return to the parts that you couldn’t complete before once you get your characters a little stronger. Also, each tower level has its own completion meter so you can actually see how much ground your team has covered and what else is there to do. It is really nice, as it is one dungeon crawling thing that I feel is essential for perfectionists like myself and I will most definitely need something like that in other RPGs from now on.
The next part is battle system. While most isometric RPGs have your heroes hacking away at monsters right on the map, Tower of Time reminds me more of the Heroes of Might & Magic. Your heroes after coming in contact with the enemy party are transferred on the battlefield, facing off a few waves of enemy monsters. Terrain varies, so you will need to adapt to it, as even the smallest monster group is usually bigger than yours party. In the battle you can pause or slow battle down, so you will not be pressed to make hasty decisions. Each hero has 4 slots for various abilities and can gain up to 8 of said abilities.
Battles themselves have different modes: the most common one is basically to destroy a fixed number of enemy monsters that come in waves; ambush, where one of your heroes is trapped and you have to free him and to fend off attackers at the same time; boss battle, where you need to destroy the boss for battle to end; portal battle, where you need to destroy portals which spawn monsters infinitely until destroyed, and a few more. As you can see, Event Horizon included not only dungeon crawler but also some things from tower defense genre, and they’ve done so well.
Loot and Crafting
Now, I know what many people there are thinking: what about loot? Don’t worry, you will gave plenty of loot to satisfy your all your hoarding needs. Items in the game come in three tiers, color-coded for your convenience: magical (green), ancient (blue) and relic (purple). There are also artifact-tier items, which hold their own category and can range from immensely useful to being kinda ‘meh’. Also, you can always dismantle unneeded loot pieces to gain some craft materials, so there is no need to worry about too much items in the inventory. As for crafting, it is simplistic, as you have basically 3 resources. You use colored magic crystals (green, blue and purple) to imbue weapons with magic. Crafting is divided in 4 categories: crafting the weapon itself, enchanting (only for the relic-tier), transmuting and item forge, which allows you to change and add item characteristics. Simple, but elegant and interesting enough to keep you occupied. Too bad that the only time that you will see those weapons and armor on your characters is on the battlefield.
Visuals and sounds
I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m biased in favor of hand drawn 2D landscapes and locations. They are more aesthetically appealing for me. In this case, however, I was pleasantly surprised about quality of locations. There are some really beautiful landscapes and sights. Even though it is just an interior of tower, I feel like designer team really did their best and it shows.
Music is good as well. It fits both the narrative and the overall mood of the game. It feels a little bit lackluster on some levels, though. Battle theme is full of awesomeness as well, energizing you to kick ass on even greater scale.
But I find it really frustrating that you can’t move the camera at all. That way you can’t check the map without moving your party, which can be really annoying at times. Especially in cases where you have to find a secret room.
Story and characters
In Towers of Time you play as a commander of a small (at first) unit in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world. You fully believe that at the bottom of the eponymous tower there is a secret. And that secret can save the humanity and the world. That tower holds a lot more than you can imagine even in your wildest dreams, though…
Unusually, you are not playing as the main hero. Rather you are playing as his chosen champions, as you see through their eyes and affect their decisions. As such, Event Horizon had to make sure that those characters will feel organic, unique and, more important, interesting. And, in my opinion, they’ve succeeded in that regard. You do believe in those characters and their motivations. Through the affinity system you see how their ideals are affected by your decisions and how they are affecting your mission in turn. Characters do not feel flat and interchangeable, quite the opposite in fact. You start out with the dynamic duo of ranger Maeve and shieldguard Kane and get other followers as you go along with the story and open up new floors of the Tower.
I assure you that both the story and characters were created masterfully, adding to the already pleasant experience. You will have to play through it yourself to fully appreciate it, though.
In conclusion I can tell you that the Tower of Time is a great game. If you are a fan of RPG or dungeon crawlers, you will find something interesting in there for you. There are minor technical annoyances and sometimes music feels off, but it doesn’t detract from the overall experience that much. So don’t waste any time and play it.
My overall rating for Tower of Time is 9 out of 10.