As much as we love being told a flexible, involving story rich with flowing prose, sometimes all you want out of an RPG is the chewy, meaty exploration and combat. Tower of Time offers just that: A vast subterranean world of traps, caverns, party management, monsters, loot and all the stats you can eat. It's been lurking in Early Access for some time, gathering unholy power, and today it threw off its shackles, launching itself upon an unsuspecting world. Word is that it's really rather good.
At its heart, Tower of Time is a realtime-with-pause tactical RPG in the style of the classic Icewind Dale series. Less story-focused than adventures such as Baldur's Gate or Pillars of Eternity, but this allows extra focus on the combat mechanics. Tower of Time in particular has larger-scale battles than many RPGs of this sort, with some encounters playing out over near-RTS-like scales, with massive swarms of enemies requiring dividing and conquering in equal measure.
John went for a spot of dungeon-spelunking with Tower of Time back in August of last year, and returned to the surface with a grin on his face. Going in with little in the way of expectations, he found a genuinely rewarding and complex game that you wouldn't expect from a debuting independent studio still hard at work on development. He was especially fond of the JRPG-esque decision to have battles take place on separate, semi-random combat maps.
So pleased was he with this early, unfinished version of the game that he slapped a shiny gold RPS recommendation sticker on it. Even as it stood back then it was well worth playing, and skimming the exhaustively massive update notes for the game since last year, it seems safe to assume that Tower of Time is significantly bigger, better and more polished now.
The past year has brought a lot of change to the game. Notable milestones since the review include a major graphical overhaul, new core types of combat encounter, many more hours of story content and the addition of slow or pause-time modes, which were absent at the time of John's initial review although he found himself able to keep up with the game in full real-time mode.
We'll see if we can't coax John back into the mega-dungeon for some sort of official review revision sometime after Rezzed, but considering the high praise he had for the game even back then, this seems like a solid pick for folks who wanted something a little more chunky and systems-driven than recent RPGs like Pillars of Eternity or Torment: Tides of Numenera.
Tower of Time is out now via Steam for £19.50/$25.