Look, sometimes you just want to leave it all behind, upload yourself to an immersive open world, do a spot of cooking, chuck a massive boulder down a hill at an enemy’s hut, and swing about with your sword until there are none left to oppose you. Fortunately, the games industry recognizes this very human desire in us and, every once in a while, offers up a chance to do exactly that.
From developer Hotta Studios, Tower of Fantasy blends immediately recognizable modern JRPG elements, specifically a watercolor-tinged open world full of bucolic splendor, the aforementioned cooking and boulder-lobbing mechanics, along with climbing and in-depth combat that rewards experimentation – and puts it in a new, shared world.
That world is Aida, and it’s a real silver lining for humanity after it messes up Earth and heads further out into the solar system for a new home. Imagine their pleasant surprise when those first space colonists bundled off their vessels to find a lush environment that’s perfectly habitable for human lungs.
There’s even a mysterious new energy force here called omnium on a nearby comet, promising all kinds of sci-fi advancements. And that’s where things inevitably go south for humanity. Radiation from the omnium sets forth a catastrophic sequence of events. The lush new homeworld isn’t quite so welcoming anymore.
Although it’s a shared world, you’re free to explore, tackle bosses, raid dungeons, and hone your recipes in co-op or solo. There’s a lot of depth to character customization to help you stand out from the crowd, and it’s here Tower of Fantasy’s anime inspirations really come to the fore. We’ve played around in the character creator and made bunny-eared battle divas in complicated Japanese streetwear, young biker warriors with cheekbones that’d turn heads at London Fashion Week, among many other possible combinations. There’s truly a wild level of customization here.
Combat’s the real star of the show here, though. In any encounter, you’ve got so many options at your disposal – light or heavy attacks, dash and jump attacks, charges, special abilities, and unlockable relics like tornado or electricity damage. It’s safe to say it goes pretty deep. Combat encounters also encourage you to swap between your three weapon slots and deal different damage types on the fly, especially as every weapon type has a unique special attack. Plus, different weapons produce varied combos when you spam the light attack. Therefore – more weapons per encounter, more unique combos and more specials.
The shared world here is massive in scope, and it’s obviously intended as a space you can inhabit, explore and harvest from to craft ever-improving gear. And the combat model really supports that, offering enough variety to keep you interested in the long term.
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