Adventures on Aida
Hotta Studio’s action RPG Tower of Fantasy sees players explore a colorfully post-apocalyptic planet. Players will hack and slash through various monsters and mutants as they explore the shared open world. And while I have some nits to pick, it’s still a solid multiplayer action RPG.
Tower of Fantasy takes place on the post-apocalyptic planet of Aida and gives off real “anime Borderlands” vibes. The similarities are all fairly surface-level, but it’s a similar atmosphere in many ways. A disaster at the titular Tower of Fantasy saw the planet blanketed in Omnium Radiation. This left the landscape overrun with monsters and bandits, complete with tiny, mask-wearing maniacs. The few humans who escaped mutation do so with the aid of devices called Suppressors. Most of Aida’s less-hostile inhabitants are in isolated, ramshackle settlements.
After the player’s Supressor fails, they wake up in a small settlement, having been rescued by the siblings Zeke and Shrili. The latter appoints herself the player’s guide to the area, introducing them to the basic game mechanics as they explore the island. However, Shrili’s Suppressor is disabled when bandits attack the settlement, exposing her to high doses of Omnium Radiation. As she begins to mutate, her brother takes her to seek help from a cyborg terrorist group called the Heirs of Aida. Distrusting these cybernetic fanatics, the player character sets out to find their new friends. This soon pulls them into the conflict between the Heirs and the planets’ ruling faction of Hykros.
In my opinion, Hotta Studio’s writing leans too heavily on anime tropes. Zeke, for example, is a typical anime “bad boy,” and he’s not the only character who feels too archetypical. I also thought the player character’s relationship with Zeke and Shirli was a little rushed. I understand wanting to help the people who helped you. However, the game acts like they’re best friends after spending about two days together.
Additionally, there’s a fundamental disconnect between some characters’ appearance and their role in the story. I watch anime, so I’m used to characters running around in needlessly elaborate outfits. However, I’d really like to know why the second town’s electrician dresses like a cyborg ninja. He never does ninja things, so it feels like the developers found a character model they liked and stuck him in there at random. And again, this is not an isolated incident.
Most of these criticisms probably fall into the category of nitpicking. However, these little gripes build up over time, and it’s not as if Tower of Fantasy delivers some gripping emotional tale regardless. I still enjoyed the game’s story overall, but the minor problems were enough to keep taking me out of the experience.
Hack and Slash
Players can equip three weapons, including swords, spears, bows, guns and more. Basic attacks build up a charge that lets players activate powerful Discharge attacks by switching to other weapons. Against small groups of basic enemies, this mostly means stun-locking them by spamming basic attacks. However, larger groups and elite enemies require more finesse, with players dodging, sprinting, and jumping to avoid incoming attacks. I particularly liked using the jetpack to deliver a powerful aerial attack with my spear or dual swords. It’s a decent system overall, though grinding basic enemies can get boring after a while.
Ranged combat is similar, though you are at the mercy of the automatic lock-on for basic attacks. I eventually got it mostly working after experimenting with the settings. However, I still felt like I was battling the lock-on as much as the enemies. You can free-aim ranged weapons by holding down the attack button, and I found it very useful in boss fights. However, against groups of enemies, you’re better off just charging into melee.
Traveling the Land
The above-mentioned jetpack also comes in handy for traversal and is unironically my favorite part of the game. Flight is not unlimited, but you can still get pretty good height and distance, and it’s just plain fun to soar over the map. Unfortunately, the other vehicles are finicky and hard to control on the touch screen. They also stop dead if you brush against a piece of the terrain.
Climbing was also annoying. Tower of Fantasy lets you climb any vertical surface until you run out of stamina. However, the player character habitually latches on to any nearby wall. I also frequently got stuck in a loop where I’d automatically start climbing, drop down, start climbing, etc. Again, it’s not a deal breaker, but it was a common annoyance.
Really, that describes Tower of Fantasy as a whole. There are many fun things to do in this game, but many tiny annoyances are holding it back. Overall, I still liked Tower of Fantasy and recommend it to anyone looking for an anime-style RPG. Just go in expecting it to be a little rough around the edges.
Is It Hardcore?
Tower of Fantasy is a fun open-world action RPG, but its many minor annoyances and odd design decisions drag down the best parts.