Over two years after its successful release on the PC, Tower of Time has launched for consoles. With versions out there for PS4 and Xbox One as well, we dove into the game on a Nintendo Switch.
We originally reviewed the PC version of Tower of Time way back in April of 2018 and we really enjoyed it, but it still feels like it’s one of those hidden gems of the RPG genre. From that perspective, it’s great that we now have console versions to play and to help grow awareness for this excellent game, but as with any conversion of a PC title the big question is always how the port was handled.
For more on the game itself you can always check out our original review, which talks more about the backstory and the gameplay mechanics. Unlike other RPGs, you don’t have to select a character class, letting me skip right by that character creation phase I never care about and allowing me straight into the game.
Technically, Tower of Time translates well to the Switch, its modest visual approach holding up well even when you switch to the handheld mode. We’ve seen conversions like these falter on account of the Switch not having enough horsepower to run 3D titles originally designed for a PC (or more powerful console), but Tower of Time simplifies things by offering a fixed camera perspective and visuals that aren’t overly detailed. Sure, it makes the game appear a little dated compared to titles like Divinity: Original Sin 2 and even to some of Obsidian’s fixed perspective RPGs, but this is an indie title with visuals to match. It performs well on the Switch, and that’s certainly not something we can say for all the ports that have appeared on it.
Tower of Time falters in another area though, one that also happens to be a common troublemaker in PC to console conversions. When translating a control scheme from the PC to a console or even a handheld, the big issue is often how you’re going to map all the of the functions that are tied to keyboard presses to a limited amount of buttons on a gamepad. Roughly speaking this can go wrong by either creating a very convoluted user interface on screen or by mapping everything to the gamepad by using combinations of buttons that need to be pressed at the same time. The latter was used for Tower of Time, and although it increases the number of options that you have with a gamepad it also relies far too much of having these combinations memorized – making for a far from intuitive experience.
What doesn’t help is that the Switch version of the game lacks a good tutorial to help you get comfortable with its controls – assuming it’s possible. Tower of Time is a challenging game on the PC, but the controls working against you makes it a nigh impossible and frequently frustrating chore on the Switch. The game feels like a struggle, and one where the temptation to give up is hard to ignore when you lose battles on account of clunky controls.
This is a big shame, because having played the original PC version I know ful well that there’s a gem of a game underneath all this. I realize that reworking an entire control scheme is a challenge, but I still have my fingers crossed for a post-release update to this game that makes it a version that does justice to the original game that Event Horizon released on Steam. If you don’t want to wait around for that and have access to a PC, then by all means grab that version right away.