Australian Release Date: April 12, 2012
Australian Rating: G
Pandora’s Tower is set in a world recovering from and going back to war after an extended period of peace. Elena, a village girl chosen to sing at the kingdom’s harvest festival is cursed and turned into a beast. Playing as Aeron, a former soldier from a neighbouring kingdom, and Elena’s love, guided by the mysterious Mavda you must help stop Elena from transforming completely by feeding her “beast flesh”. This is found in the 13 Towers housing 12 chains holding together a magical “Scar” in the world, but to break the curse permanently, you must feed her the “Master Flesh” from each tower’s guardian, which to get to you must break these chains. What makes things harder for Elena is that she is a devout follower of the Aios religion, which strictly forbids the eating of meat.
Does that about explain it? Well, I just gave you more than I was given in the opening of the game. If I didn’t already roughly know what the game was about from researching it previously, I would have had no idea what it was about when I started playing. My first impression was that the opening doesn’t explain anything. It doesn’t introduce the characters, the world, any background, anything. Not even what is happening at the festival that triggers the events of the game. It wasn’t until after I completed the first level that pieces of the story were given, then more gradually after each level thereafter. It was very confusing at first, and I wanted to know what was happening, but you only really got titbits while between towers. As a result, the story was very slow moving. I didn’t get attached to the characters either. They were very one dimensional. Aeron is too storybook and Elena is a sook. There really isn’t much more to say. The only character that intrigued me was Mavda, as some of the things she did or didn’t say, or laughs at were disconcerting, and I wanted to know her intentions. But I still didn’t like her as a character.
This game is pretty much a hack and slash. Each level is a tower, and you must work your way to the boss of each tower and defeat it to bring the “Master Flesh” back to Elena to eat. Despite the fact that it is meat and she is a strict vegetarian, the meat actually looks disgusting. It pulses and oozes and just generally looks gross, and she eats it like an apple… Even she looks disgusting when she turns. She doesn’t look like some awesome powerful beast. She just looks… nasty. Helpless and glob-like with weird worm looking tentacle things coming out of her skin. It’s a rather unpleasant sight.
Now, time is a factor in this game for two reasons: 1) Elena turns more and more the longer you are away; and 2) whether it is day or night determines certain items found in each tower for crafting. Since you have to keep in mind how long you are away (conveniently demonstrated on the HUD), there are many times when you must come back before finishing a tower. Inventory is another limitation. This constant back and forth is annoying, especially since the cut scenes are so long and useless. Not only are they repetitive, but they don’t show anything conducive to the gameplay. I feel the game would have been much better without them, and skip them at every opportunity. What makes the back and forth disruption of flow worse is that the monsters respawn (so that you can always have a supply of “beast flesh” to keep the curse at bay until you get the “Master Flesh”, and it goes off if you have it too long). Having to refight your way through the tower seems rather counterproductive, but fortunately there are multiple shortcuts that you can set up so that the next time you work your way through a tower, you can skip as much as possible. These shortcuts are a good counter balance to the constant back and forth, and they make sense, but it still disrupts the flow of the game having to travel back to the entrance of the tower and back to the observatory where Elena is staying, then having to travel back to the tower and back to where you were up to. Something similar to the Town Portal spell in Diablo would be great for this. They’d just have to use another magical item excuse like they did on the chain given to Aeron by Mavda to extract the flesh. You do eventually come across a drop item like that, but it only goes to the observatory, it doesn’t bring you back to where you were.
The chain is also used in combat (along with your sword). It can be used to disarm beasts, and even throw the weapon back at them, which is cool. It is also used to traverse the different towers, as a grappling hook and to create surfaces to grapple to. Working out how to get through the towers was actually kind of fun, and combat is really simple. My biggest gripe about gameplay is that you cannot change the camera angles yourself, and they change themselves while you are often mid-movement. Suddenly walking a different direction based on the camera angle changing can result in hazardous mistakes, which lead to profanities being yelled at the game for making you make those mistakes. The more you travel through an area the more acquainted you get with where the camera angle changes, so it is easier to account for, but in this day and age and with the developments made in gaming, fixed camera angles in third person in 3D worlds really should be a thing of the past.
Another issue I have based on where gaming is at is the graphics. Now, I know the Wii isn’t quite as powerful as the PS3 or Xbox 360 graphically, but I found the graphics of this game to be subpar. The style was very anime based, similar to Final Fantasy, but the quality is closer to FFVIII or the original Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. They are bright, but too cartoony and nowhere near sharp enough considering the capabilities of the Wii. After seeing the promotional artwork and concept art for this game, I was really disappointed with the fuzzy blocky graphics I was presented with. The audio wasn’t that inspiring either.
I personally found this game to be incredibly repetitive and tedious. The back story was somewhat interesting, but you only got it in dribs and drabs. One thing I did like about the game, other than the slightly puzzle based tower navigation, was how you built up a relationship with Elena by giving her gifts you found or crafted, or getting her to translate texts you’ve found. You can also collect books on the history in the game. How good your relationship is with her determines the ending of the game. So keep that in mind if you do decide to play it. The issues I’ve mentioned might not be an issue to everyone, and it certainly is simple… I’m not telling you to not buy it, it just wasn’t for me for the above reasons.
Game Play 5
Ease of Play 7