Tower of Time
Developed By : Event Horizon
Published By : Digerati
Category : RPG
Release Date : Jun 25, 2020
Many developers have learned that porting games onto the Switch is far from an easy process. You have to take into account the lower specs compared to other systems, handheld mode and, for games originally on PC, the change in controls. Tower of Time is a game that suffers from being ported to Nintendo’s console, its potential being held back by technical issues and awkward controls.
Tower of Time starts with a short opening segment, where you control a young child as they explore the ruins of an old tower. After discovering a mysterious crystal throne, the child learns that the tower contains a power that will be important during events that will happen in the future. After escaping, they return many years later to properly explore the ancient structure, hoping to find a way to save their decaying world.
It’s an interesting beginning, setting up your adventure while also giving a story reason for why you’re controlling multiple characters. You see, the crystal throne allows the main character to, amongst other things, control their allies. Tower of Time has some great story telling in general, which is a good thing considering just how much text there is. You’ll be reading through dialogue during story scenes, and there are many notes and other reading material to find throughout the tower.
This leads into the first main problem, one that Tower of Time shares with many other Switch games: the text is too small. In docked mode this isn’t too much of an issue, but when playing handheld, it’s an ever-present problem. Text isn’t the only thing that ends up being too small most of the time, though with the amount of text you have to read, handheld play is almost unbearable sometimes.
The second area of this port that hasn’t translated well onto the Switch is combat. Exploring each floor of the tower normally is fine, even if it can be hard to make out smaller objects. But battles were originally designed around keyboard and mouse controls, so the move to controller bring with it more than a few limitations. Combat in Tower of Time is played out mostly in real time, as you control four party members in battle. You have to choose where they move, the skills they’ll use, and their targets.
Fairly standard stuff, but in practice it can feel clunky due to the nature of the game’s controls. In an attempt to minimise on-screen clutter, Tower of Time makes use of many different button combinations that you’ll have to learn quickly if you want to survive the early fights. It’s something that can eventually become second nature, but it’s never as intuitive as having hotkeys ready at all times combined with easy mouse targeting.
Once this initial hurdle is overcome, battles are quite fun. Being able to slow down or even stop time does at least give you more time to work out the clunky controls, and there’s a decent variety of enemy encounters to content with. Battles do eventually run out of steam as you figure out a good strategy to deal with most encounters, and it feels like there are a few to many fights in general. Fewer, but more challenging battles, would have been appreciated during the later sections of the game.
Another area that hasn’t translated well to the Switch is the game’s visuals. We already mentioned the small text sizes, but this also applies to many UI elements. Trying to make out what is happening during more chaotic battles is not enjoyable while playing handheld. There are some occasional framerate dips as well, though this isn’t a problem when docked. What is a problem are the loading times, especially in regards to combat. Having to wait for battles to load every time gets aggravating, especially if you die and have to restart a fight again.
This Switch release of Tower of Time is far from the best version of the game, but it’s still a decent RPG if you can overlook the port’s shortcomings. There’s potential here for future games in the series, as long as more care is put into porting them onto the Switch.
*The Switch Effect was provided a code for this game*