Tower of Time
Developer: Event Horizon
Genre: Adventure, RPG, Action, Strategy
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 25/06/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Waves of enemies, unique skills and tactical gameplay coupled with exploration, dungeon crawling and flexible character development. Tower of Time is a game that takes a mix of tower defense combat mechanics with some classic tactical elements and adds them to a dungeon-crawler set, in a tower. Seems interesting enough in concept but does it work?
Top To Bottom, Bottom To Top
Set in a dying world, you play the role of a desperate man trying to find a solution to the desolate state of the inhabitants’ existence. You do not, however, directly control your nameless character beyond the tutorial; instead, you control your “champions” while you sit on a crystal throne. As a child, you stumble upon ancient ruins which you later find out is a tower that goes deep underground and is there as if it has been flipped and driven into the earth like some giant nail. Later, you return to sit upon the throne whilst your champions go down (up) the tower to reach the bottom (top).
What Goes Down Must Come Up
The exploration side of the gameplay is very Diablo-esque with the angled overhead view and the dark setting being just a couple of similarities here. While in the overworld you can find loot and lore items lying around although at times they can be a little difficult to pick up as the game likes your character to be facing them exactly to do so which can become a bit annoying. That aside, the exploration side is as you would expect from a dungeon-crawling RPG which apart from the odd stutter is mostly hassle-free. The real difference comes with the combat encounters!
Once you approach enemies while exploring (or indeed if they ambush you), you will then be taken to an instanced battle where things become a whole lot more complicated. At the start of the battle, you will have as long as you need to position your characters as you like within a small area before you allow battle to commence by hitting the “+’ button. Once it begins, waves of enemies will come for you which you ultimately have to defeat.
Victory is not assured just by blindly allowing your champions to swing for the fences and a sharp tactical approach is necessary, particularly at higher difficulties. You can stop time to take stock of the situation whenever you like by pressing “A” at any time which can cause problems at times as I found I pressed it a lot to try and move my characters instead of pressing “R” which, for me, makes no sense in this context. However, it did make it easier when casting spells that require you to draw shapes or paths on the battlefield.
Battles themselves also have different mechanics such as portal battles, where you have to destroy the enemy spawning portals, or you will have endless waves of enemies coming at you, and Mana Crystal battles where, in true tower defense fashion, you have to destroy all waves of enemies before they destroy your mana crystal(s). In essence, though, think of combat as a type of tower defense where your towers are mobile and have skills.
Screenshots from battle showing the start of a wave and one character’s skill wheel.
Character customisation is a heavy part of the gameplay as you will need different “loadouts” for different situations (although you can’t actually save skill configurations and all has to be done manually) and skill/equipment combos become vital later in the game to maximise your characters’ effectiveness. You can also respec your characters by spending a relic crystal to refund your points ready to reinvest; whereas skill points can be used and reused as you see fit.
Characters themselves are unique and offer different benefits to the party in battle through their abilities and motivation, which can be a boon or a curse depending on their modifiers which can be seen in the menus. Motivation itself is affected through ‘critical choices’ that occur whilst exploring.
Characters in Tower of Time do not advance in the usual way of gaining experience and levelling up. Instead, you must visit the barracks in the city (which you can return to anytime) and use your hard-earned gold to train them up to their current level cap. The cap can be increased by upgrading the building that the character is stationed in (the armoury, for the two you start with) using blueprints found in exploration and some of that shiny gold.
You can also use the City to visit the Blacksmith and, once unlocked early in the game; you can use the crystals mentioned earlier for character respec to craft equipment, enchant relic (purple) equipment and even enhance equipment using the crystals mentioned above once you unlock those later on.
Terrific Tower or Ruinous Rubble?
Tower of Time is not for someone who wishes to pick up and play a game straight away. There is a bit of a learning curve throughout the entire experience but, thankfully, Event Horizon opted to gradually introduce the mechanics and new enemy types to you throughout rather than drop you in with everything straight away. Graphically it isn’t the sharpest, but it was never going to be AAA title levels given the small development team and the mid-range price. The gameplay more than makes up for that, however.
All in all, I’d say this is definitely worth the investment as I personally have had many hours of enjoyment out of it and, despite the occasional stutter and skipping of some cinematics, I found Tower of Time very enjoyable. If you are a fan of RPGs but want something a bit different and challenging, then you have your answer right here.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Tower of Time from the Nintendo eShop.