Tower of Time, now on Steam Early Access, is an RPG tale of a once-beautiful land left broken by a mysterious cataclysm. 1000 years later, a great tower is uncovered by a massive earthquake, and the power within its walls compels a young boy (because it always is!) to lead a group of champions on a quest to discover its secrets. That's not necessarily the most original story setup ever, but it looks very pretty, and promises a "new take on classic RPGs" by combining isometric, party-based exploration with "small scale" RTS-style combat.
Tower of Time offers five difficulty levels, accommodating players who want a story-focused adventure without all the crushing combat. But it seems clear that battles are meant to be central to the experience: Rather than the "real-time with pause" style common in other RPGs, Tower of Time has a "slow-time feature" that demands on-the-fly attention and puts a priority on pre-fight preparation. And in case there was any doubt, the "Epic" difficulty level, where "one mistake will likely wipe out your party," is promoted as a feature rather than just a bad idea.
Maybe it's because I'm getting old, but it's actually the less hack-and-slashy elements of the game that sound more interesting to me. The titular tower features "hand-crafted levels" filled with secrets and puzzles, while the history of the world of Artara, "where technology met magic with devastating consequences," will be related through "hundreds of lore books and scattered pieces of information. " Character progression is actually connected to that story, as instead if earning experience in combat—there is actually no "experience" in the conventional RPG sense at all—new skills are unlocked through the discovery of ancient knowledge.
The initial Early Access release of the game will include four of the tower's 13 levels, which Krzysztof Monkiewicz, CEO of developer Event Horizon, described as "Book One" of the story. Book Two, which will add four more levels to Tower of Time, is expected to be out in roughly three months, while Book Three, slated for the end of this year or early 2018, will complete the tower and the game.
"The current content offers approximately 15 hours of gameplay time with a rich story, which is self-contained in a way," he explained. "When we enter the tower, we know very little about what happened in the past and why the land is destroyed. As we explore this ancient realm we find the answers to some of the questions, but new ones arise in their place. A relatively simple, black and white picture of the world suddenly develops shades of grey. There are also the first cracks in our party unity, as some of our champions do not fully agree with the decisions we make."
Tower of Time is available for $15/£11/€15 on Steam. A handful of screens can be seen down below, and you can find out more at evehor.com.