Tower of Time review
An original and innovative roleplaying experience.
Old-school RPG lovers that grew up with titans like Baldur’s Gate and Diablo now have a great new challenge with Tower of Time, a story-driven roleplaying game that follows the path of the classics of the genre and creates some new, very interesting and innovative elements to add to the all-too-well-known equation.
Tower of Time, developed by Polish studio Event Horizon, tells the story of a ravaged civilization – kind of what we’ve seen in Horizon: Zero Dawn. That is, an almost extinct humanity brought back to a tribal state of society, with the everlasting shadow of once technologically-advanced predecessors. Instead of having mechanical beasts to hunt down, in Tower of Time we experience a much more ‘medieval’ approach to the devolution of society, centered in a D&D world with elves, orcs and elementals.
Players take control of a small party of heroes commanded by a young king after they discover a mysterious tower filled with threats, an unknown powerful energy to conquer and an omnipotent presence. Having visited when he was just a little boy, the king had carried until now a persistent feeling of attraction to this strange place and orders his best fighters to investigate it in his name, with the ulterior intention of dominating these strange, mighty and magical influences that once brought humanity to a near end.
The tower exploration begins at the top of the construction, at surface level, meaning that we’ll have to go down a long way to reveal its hidden secrets. Each level has a great number of chests to loot, battles to overcome, hidden paths to discover and storyline to uncover. New members to our party will also appear in time. Each level increases significantly in difficulty, posing a very interesting challenge.
Tower of Time takes the classic pen and paper Dungeons & Dragons formulae, uses it as the baseline for its core mechanics, and adds on top of it some new gameplay proposals that take strategies to the next level.
For instance, in Diablo players build up a character, gather equipment and basically go hunting mobs of enemies, level up and repeat. In Baldur’s Gate things are similar but with the pivotal difference of a turn-based combat system, similar to what we’ve seen in the first entries of the Fallout series. Dialogue choices were also a central part of the experience in the latter examples.
In Tower of Time players will also control a party of heroes, equipped with the best loot they can find (divided into what now seems to be a staple for item rareness: gray, green, blue, purple, yellow), as well as what they can craft and/or enchant. But they will also have some choices to make in the story, and battles are carried out in a separated scenario, similar to what Final Fantasy has done over the years, but with a real-time strategy (RTS) approach.
When a battle begins, you can choose whether to carry it out (after analyzing which enemies you’re engaging) or to back off. If you decide to effectively enter combat, a loading screen will appear and you’ll be transported to a sort of arena where you’ll have to defeat a certain amount of enemies in order to claim victory.
During these really challenging battles you’ll have to control your heroes separately and choose when and where to use their abilities, taking care of cooldown timers and mana regeneration. The screen will show which heroes are being targeted and by which particular enemy. In order to prevent total chaos, Tower of Time features a ‘Slow Time’ option to take a breath, see how you’re doing, redirect your efforts, use a healing ability before it’s too late and rearrange your strategy, if necessary.
At any point during exploration you’ll be able to return to town or use the tower’s set of conveniently located portals to fast travel between previously visited areas. Town is where you’ll be able to level up your heroes, empower your weapons with enchantments or craft new ones, manage abilities and more.
Tower of Time rewards our efforts and determination after each new, stressful and increasingly difficult encounters with new bits of story, paths to explore, team members and loot. Many times I felt stuck at a particular point, secluded by a boss fight or one of many combat variations the game has to offer (swarm mode asks us to eliminate several mob-spawning portals to be able to win). After rethinking my combat approach, going back to town to upgrade some stats or items, and trying again I found myself victorious and ready to move on to the next challenge.
New chests, treasures and journals will make the effort worthwhile, awarding that much-needed motivation boost to carry on and pursue the story’s end which, by the way, is as original and interesting as the whole gameplay experience.
For any RPG lover, strategy-based combat enthusiast or narrative-driven game seeker, Tower of Time is certainly worth checking out at its affordable price below the $20 mark on Steam, containing around 30 hours of gameplay.