While there were some seriously annoying jumps and lags, the carefully considered lore and fun battle system make it a worthwhile play.

[Review] Tower of Time – Nintendo Switch

Written by Abbi Smith
  • Developer: Event Horizon
  • Publisher: Digerati
  • Release Date: 25/06/2020
  • Price: £22.49 / $24.99
  • Review code provided by Digerati

Introducing: Tower of Time Switch Review

I’m a huge fan of a good RPG dungeon-crawler such as Diablo – excellent game, well worth the play – and if it wasn’t a huge influence on Tower of Time then there are some really weird coincidences in the world! So much of Tower of Time reminded me of my old favourite, but it’s hard to put my finger on specifics. I do recommend trying it for yourself, though; I’d love to compare notes.

Only Time Will Tell

Tower of Time is played from a very interesting perspective: that of a desperate man, looking for a last-ditch and somewhat tentative solution to the declining state of the world. This nameless character isn’t even actively playable beyond the prologue – instead, you control his champions on the levels below while he sits on the beautiful and mysterious Crystal Throne.

Scattered throughout the Tower is an assortment of notes, books, journal entries, and a whole host of weird and wonderful relics from the past. These, along with sporadic appearances by the elusive being “The Tower Avatar,” act as nice little lore drops beyond the standard interactions between the various members of the party. I don’t want to ruin the story, because it’s a very story-heavy game and half the joy is uncovering Artara’s deep history, but suffice it to say, the world is in ruin and the hope is that a mysterious power hidden deep in the tower can save it.

Complicated Is The Name Of The Game(play)

Tower of Time is both simultaneously simple, and oh so complicated. The basic controls, such as movement and menu navigation, are incredibly simple. The left stick is used for character and cursor movement, R for skill targeting, ZL for in-battle character navigation, ZR for skill selection, and a small range beyond this. 

Where it gets complicated are the battle mechanics. There’s a huge range of battle types and objectives, from portal assault to mana orb defense to standard battle. Every character has a various assortment of skills that all work differently and give that character a specific job role on the battlefield – you can only have a party of four though, so choose wisely! Battles can be paused for strategic consideration, which is a very useful mechanic for skill-targeting or champion maneuvers during the sometimes fast-paced clashes.

Loot has some character restrictions or is advisable for certain builds, but generally, it’s easy to find something decent for your entire team. There are a couple of equipment qualities, from which certain ones can be upgraded in various ways from enchantment to modification. It’s difficult to explain in writing, and better learned through playing the game – a common theme!

One gripe I do have with Tower of Time is the levelling system. Instead of XP-based levelling as I’d expected, each champion belongs to a class building, the level of which determines the maximum level for the champions in that building. To level up a champion they must not be at the maximum level for the current spec of the building, and it costs gold. Buildings can only be upgraded by finding specific blueprints within the tower and then paying gold to perform the upgrade. It feels clunky and sluggish, but does enable the levelling of champions not in the active team, so there is some benefit to the system.

A Well-Built Tower Is A Thing Of Beauty

Ah, graphics. Of hotly debated significance, the aesthetic of a game can either set the tone for the experience or ruin it. I loved the floor design for Tower of Time; it felt very Diablo, and some of the locations actually took my breath away with their intricate design. The graphics themselves weren’t what I’d wanted but also didn’t detract from the experience. The text was too small to read on a handheld screen, but I’m getting far too used to that now…

I love a good adventure soundtrack! A little mystery, a pinch of anticipation, and a big spoonful of atmosphere: Tower of Time has a brilliant background to work with and some basic but well-chosen sound effects, the audio really brings the underground adventure alive. What voice acting there was was, unfortunately, a little disappointing – I’d have preferred there to be none than it be sub-par, but the effort is appreciated.

Unfortunately, performance is Tower of Time’s big sticking point for me. It’s graphically jerky, doesn’t translate well to handheld mode, and my inputs often got missed or had some lag. These issues were a huge shame, as were the absurdly long loading screens when entering areas or combat and the auto-skipping text during some throne room scenes. All in all, it created a disappointing haze over an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable game.

Am I Just A Bad Gamer?

I like to play review games on a more challenging setting to get a good feel for the game and then move to an easier difficulty to finish the story elements in a decent time. In Tower of Time, I had to move to the second easiest difficulty just to play the game, as some battles were nice and easy whereas others absolutely kicked my backside from here to kingdom come. I can’t decide if that difficulty fluctuation is by design, or if I’m just bad at games, but it certainly kept me on my toes and forced me to think strategically about equipment loadouts, team members, and skills because I never knew what was waiting around the next corner.

Clunky But Fun

I loved the twisty-turny story with rich lore and well-developed backstories that played out beautifully with unique and amusing characters. The gorgeously designed floors, while hampered by not-great graphical quality and repetitive combat fields, encouraged exploration and made the whole journey feel fun and fresh. I found a number of performance issues that cast a negative hue over the experience, but overall it was good fun and a game I’d recommend to any RPG/dungeon-crawler fan. At £22.50 it might be considered a bit steep, but there’s a promotional offer on (at the time of writing) that puts it down to a more reasonable £17.99/$19.99!

Pros

  • Deep, rich lore
  • Beautifully designed floors
  • Strategic thinking required

Cons

  • Patchy difficulty
  • A number of performance issues
  • Loading screens!

Verdict
While there were some seriously annoying jumps and lags, the carefully considered lore and fun battle system make it a worthwhile play.

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