One of my most pleasant RPG surprises of last year was Tower Of Time, a tactical fantasy dungeon crawl. There's bits of Baldur's Gate in its real-time (with slow-mo) combat, a bit of Darkest Dungeon in its character and town management, and a bunch of ideas all of its own. It's an unusual beast, and in order to entice some folks who might have otherwise overlooked it, Event Horizon have rolled out a major update today adding two new play-modes - a story-light dungeon crawl mode, and a gruelling permadeath challenge, each with leaderboards. The game is also half off on GOG and Steam, and there's an update trailer below.
The big addition here are the two new modes, RPGlite and Permadeath. The former is unlocked after completing the first floor of the dungeon. Citing Darkest Dungeon as an inspiration, it starts with all party members unlocked, all upgrade systems available and all town buildings ready. You're free to tune and optimise your crew, and can skip quests and bypass story gates as you please. Your only goal is to get to the bottom of the dungeon as efficiently as possible, and you're scored based on how few fights you get into - less loot and XP, more points - on your way down. It's an interesting challenge and asks the player to really engage with all of its systems at their highest levels.
Permadeath is just what it sounds like. If a party member goes down in a fight and isn't immediately revived, they stay dead. Interestingly, this mode also has a new difficulty setting, intimidatingly named "Blood", which starts out on the easier end of the scale, but gradually ramps up over time until it's closer to the top levels. There's a lot here to chew on for players willing to invest the time in figuring out the game's systems. That should be a little easier, too - they've also overhauled crafting this update, with a clearer interface and lower costs, so players have more reasons to upgrade.
John's review of Tower Of Time suggests he had a lovely time in the mega-dungeon while the game was in early access. It's grown and improved a lot since then, and the latest update is probably the biggest since launch. For returning players, they've made a major balance pass on enemies, skills and items. Basic weapon damage is up, and higher difficulty levels should have faster, more dangerous fights instead of protracted slogs against high-health enemies. There's also some minor audiovisual improvements, like anti-aliasing now functioning and more voice barks in combat so fights aren't as quiet.