Tower of Time (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Eric Ace 13.09.2020

Review for Tower of Time on Nintendo Switch

Tower of Time is a RPG styled very much like old Diablo or other older similar PC games, and this is a great compliment to be clear. Originally released on the PC for Steam, it garnered great reviews for its deep combat and stat system, its sense of exploration, and its good storytelling. All of those are present on the Switch port, but the control system and some bugs that are present lower what is otherwise an outstanding experience.

Many young gamers may not know how much the field has changed over the years, and before this goes into some type of history lesson, it is important to understand where this is coming from. In the '90s graphics were not that good, and as a result games had to rely very heavily on story and gameplay elements. This is why there are a slew of cult classics in various genres like puzzles, RPGs, and strategy, with games that still garner incredible praise nearly 20 years later.

Two such games back then were Diablo and Fallout, both of course spawned a lot of sequels, but the modern day games do not bear much resemblance. Originally, the players would explore these dark worlds through a mixture of mediocre graphics, good sounds, and outstanding story and description. Players had to understand the story as it was told through text boxes about what 'they were seeing.' Games as a whole gave way to "wow-ing" players with graphics, and losing much of the magic of storytelling.

Screenshot for Tower of Time on Nintendo Switch

Tower of Time is clearly inspired from these, as much of the story is told "between the lines" such as getting little glimpses from reading notes of long dead people. Touches like reading a note about a father whose family died, or people starving, or people wanting to see their children again does not contribute to the overall main story plot, but does so much for an incredible atmosphere of being trapped in this mysterious tower. It is such a positive reminder to the older narrative style, where players create the world in their own heads, allowing the experience to stick with players years and years later.

Tower of Time has to use these techniques as graphically it is okay at best. Some of the backgrounds are very good, but many of the models just look simplistic and sometimes… off. It is something to be aware of, but the atmosphere of coming across small villages of dead skeletons and reading their final journal entries more than makes up for its graphical weakness. An additional point on this is the text is small - like painfully small. On handheld, even with good eyesight it nears being problematic.

As far as RPG elements go, this has them in spades. In this regard its depth is pretty impressive. Characters have a few primary stats, the typical life, and strength and so on. Each one has around eight skills, of which you spend valuable skills points specializing them. For example the tank character gets a heal spell, and as it levels up the player decides whether to make it a very good solo heal, or turn it into a group heal. An archer character decides whether an attack becomes an explosive AoE, or instead a vicious flurry of arrows.

Screenshot for Tower of Time on Nintendo Switch

Additionally, the amount of gear the player gets is very high, much in the vein of Diablo. Any item can have a host of modifiers on it; from simply boosting stats, to stealing life, to doing cleave damage. Each character can only use certain equipment as well, such as the archer using light armor, so that fancy heavy armor that was just found can only go to the tank character. This equipment can further be modified. Gamers into this kind of stuff will find a load here.

The general gameplay loop is pretty simple: head down to the next level, explore around, kill things, find the door down, and repeat. It doesn't stray from this formula, but it works very well. Combat on the other hand is pretty varied from defense missions, hunting down, or simply survival. It is a type of real-time tactical game but the player can pause at any time. Enemies will spawn and come at the player, who must move their four units around, giving commands such as casting spells, moving units and rearranging the team.

Screenshot for Tower of Time on Nintendo Switch

One of the major problems that bring this down, though, is an abysmal control scheme. Originally for PC, emulating a mouse was not a strong suite in this port. The worst part is that the menu and every major selection use a type of "wheel" system that is nightmarish even hours into the game. Essentially, the player holds a shoulder button, brings up the wheel, and then the player uses the analogue to lean towards the option before releasing the shoulder button. The effort this takes and the frequency of errors that should never have happened, when a simple pause and up/down menu could have been used.

Furthermore, this is exacerbated even worse in combat where the same general idea is used, but then the player often has to use the other shoulder button to confirm an attack. Many times it feels like gymnastics trying to cast a simple spell. Why they went with this is a mystery. For players wanting to experience this game, which generally deserves it, the PC would honestly be a better system. The Switch is barely serviceable, and the title lends itself to short bursts of play. The control scheme, as well as painfully small text dialogues and occasional bugs like skipping story segments are serious detractions from an outstanding game.

Screenshot for Tower of Time on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Tower of Time does everything right an RPG in this style should. It feels like a breath of fresh air, and a throwback at the era when PC games where in their heyday, with stellar writing carrying them instead of graphical prowess. The sense of exploration and story interwoven is very good. The sole thing, and it is a big one, is the controls and general port are a mess. Controls should not be this bad, and it drags down an otherwise great title.

Developer

Event Horizon

Publisher

Event Horizon

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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