A civilization, an entire planet, inexorably bent on destruction through millennia of abusing magic and technology exchanging their achievements for decadence and complacency. This is the story of a hero and savior, demon and destructor, recalling the end and a new beginning. This is the tale of power judging and being judged.
Tower of Time is a role-playing dungeon crawler with deep tactical combat. The goal is to clear the tower floor and move to the next level. There is a main quest, a few side quests, and several other goals to accomplish along the way.
The game uses an isometric-style perspective projection with a zoom feature that lets you pan out for a better view of the area or battlefield. This is helpful for finding interactive objects in the world or making tactical decisions and choosing priority targets. Many of the notes, lore details or quest updates require a little pixel hunting and camera zoom helps tremendously.
Tower of Time presents role-playing in a refreshingly classic manner. The narrative speaks directly to you in a very personal manner. You the player control the main protagonist who in turn controls a party of followers directly through a metaphysical connection. It harkens back to classic pen and paper role-playing, acting out the character with the DM narrating the adventure and filling in the gaps you should know as that character.
The world of Artara is dying. In the distant past, there was a cataclysm with history lost to time and devastation. The world is fading quickly. Its inhabitants are unable to adequately grow food in the dismal environment. The land can no longer support life.
The story starts 25 years ago with you as a young child out hunting having stumbled upon a ruin. Investigation shows the ruin is a tower turned upside down and thrust tip first into the ground by some massive power. Further exploration uncovers a crystal throne protected by strange elemental guardians. From the throne emanates a voice foreshadowing events to come and more importantly your key presence in them and the source of power deep within the tower itself. You flee in terror telling no one fearing for your safety and survival.
Fast forward to the present. You return to the tower on a mission to find the power you somehow know is buried deep within its bowels and use it to try and save the world. Upon returning to and connecting with the crystal throne, through a series of events, your character now possesses newfound powers and abilities. Most evident is that you can now control your followers, hear their thoughts, feel what they do. While the protagonist is bound to stay on the main floor with the throne, you as the player will now take on the more direct role controlling the party members.
What should be a simple journey to the depths of the tower and the power below quickly becomes complicated. Others have made the journey before. They’ve set up barriers both physical and magic. Parts of the tower passages have collapsed turning the floor into a veritable maze. None of this is random. The game and story are handcrafted. Each level has a main story to tell leading to the next level uncovering more of the towers tightly held mysteries.
Other Tower Objectives
In addition to the main and side quests, there are other objectives to complete on each level. These provide upgrades to your Town buildings, your characters, and rare treasure among other rewards.
- Blueprints: These are the components necessary to upgrade different town facilities.
- Enchant Scrolls: These provide stat effect to your characters. Be careful though they can increase or decrease the stat.
- Battles: Every floor has a set number of battles.
- Secret Rooms: These are locked behind puzzles or events and may contain many different surprises.
- Fountains: These are like the enchant scrolls and provide a permanent boon or bane.
- Chests: These contain treasure or needed items and are often staged behind battle scenes as a reward.
The town is your childhood village and where you go to recoup, train, and gear up between tower levels. It’s static map with various village buildings highlighted. Clicking on those buildings will bring you to a menu list of functions that building can perform.
Each building performs a specific function such as crafting, training, and enchanting. Each character archetype in your party is attached to a building type. The first two party members are your long-time combat companion Shield-guard Kane and the Royal Messenger Maeve. They are martial characters and level up through the Barracks building. Later additions to the party, like Aeric the Druid and the dwarven Runelord Rakhem, are tied to the Mage Tower and the Artificer Hall respectively.
Buildings have levels just like characters. They can be improved through finding blueprints and paying the requisite gold fee. As buildings improve the characters they support can gain higher levels. Finding the blueprints is important to unlocking more power in your buildings and thereby more power potential for your characters.
When a character is leveled up in the Barracks they will get a set number of points to spend in their four base attributes and another to spend amongst their skills. The four main attributes, Might, Speed, Mastery, and Life, boost the character’s performance in a specific manner while also affecting secondary offensive and defensive statistics. When each attribute is raised above a certain level it will begin providing additional benefits such as increased power regeneration.
Even though characters have a natural affinity for certain attributes the game allows for flexibility in role building. For example, Maeve is an archer and her main two attributes are Speed and Mastery. Speed is important for attack rate and improved skill cooldown, but so is Mastery for her skill power along with Might for increased physical and magical penetration. Attribute allocation is directly tied to role and skill choice. With high Speed and Mastery Maeve’s magic attacks are an AoE (area of effect) firestorm of meltiness. Build her for Speed and Might and with Rain of Arrows, she will tear through enemy armor leaving a heavy bleed for several seconds.
There are eight base skills split into two distinct branches (like a trait tree) providing different effects and providing flexibility in build and play. In the example of Maeve’s Fire Arrow, it can either have an AoE effect or an increased chance to land a critical hit. As the character gains skill points they can be spent to improve the power and effect of each skill. Only one line can be chosen at a time.
Four of the eight skills can be active on the skill bar at a time. This is where gear and attribute choices affect what skills are taken. Since Maeve’s Mastery is boosted to 18 her Fire Arrow is a perfect choice over Rain of Arrows which is tied to Might.
Characters have an alignment as well. This refers to inter-group dynamics and not the traditional prosaic “lawful evil versus chaotic good” diatribe. If a character has a positive alignment they will provide a party buff. If it’s zero, then nothing. If it’s negative the character will add a party debuff such as lowered power regeneration. This is the one system I feel drags the game down. There are few opportunities I found to affect alignment and every time it was a choice of raising one character's alignment versus lowering the others. Yes, there is a choice, but it’s forced and there is nothing to be done about improving or changing that until much later. Fortunately, it’s not a huge issue, but it is worth noting.