The vast futuristic world of Aida has plenty to offer players apart from all the Genshin Impact similarities, but given Tower of Fantasy’s unfortunate likeness to HoYoverse’s hit single-player RPG, it’s totally understandable how it might look like a wannabe clone at first glance.
With its sci-fi setting, unique gacha mechanics and multiplayer elements, does Tower of Fantasy have enough going for the game to make it stand on its own?
Table of contents:
TOWER OF FANTASY STORY AND VISUALS
The post-apocalyptic tale of Tower of Fantasy features – as with most doomsday scenarios – humanity rising from the ashes of a cataclysmic event born from its own hubris. There’s a great deal of hullabaloo about Omnium and aberrations, and then there’s you in the middle of it all – wide-eyed, confused, and suffering from memory loss. Everything feels extremely similar to Noah’s Heart, to be honest, but thankfully, Tower of Fantasy is leaps ahead when it comes to graphics and visuals.
Not only are character designs absolutely gorgeous, but the environments around you also boast vivid attention to detail and vibrant natural elements you can freely interact with. You can swim across rivers, climb majestic cliffs, and race through open fields (while keeping your stamina in check) as you flit from place to place running errands for equally vibrant NPCs.
The narrative goes deeper as you progress through the game, but while you can go through the main storyline all by your lonesome, Tower of Fantasy is an MMORPG at its core, and its multiplayer elements allow you to play with others on the same server if you’re feeling a little sociable.
THE GAMEPLAY AND CONTROLS OF TOWER OF FANTASY
Typical of the genre, Tower of Fantasy lets you team up to fight bosses and go adventuring together in the open world. You can also simply loiter around and farm mobs, put your skills to the test in the training facilities, or cook away to your heart’s content. Combat is a fast-paced real-time affair where you can switch between weapons with special buffs ala-Punishing Gray Raven, and performing a perfect dodge enters a Matrix-esque bullet time called Phantasia where time will stop for a short while to give you a nice little window to whittle down at your foe’s HP.
- Punishing: Gray Raven review – “Beauty, tragedy, and awesomeness in a sleek, cyberpunk package”
The combat here is made more unique with the interesting gacha system of the game. Pulls from the summons pool include weapons that have actual characters attached to them – aptly called Simulacra – which are essentially skins of characters that have wielded that weapon in the past. Technically, while you’re pulling for weapons, you’re also rolling for the characters that come with them.
You can equip these characters to change your appearance, but this, oddly enough, contradicts the deep character customisation in the game. Right off the bat, you’ll be asked to design your character with everything from eyebrow arch to torso height, but all that effort won’t mean a thing if you simply decide to equip a certain Simulacra to override your look.
- Noah’s Heart first impressions preview – “Puts the ‘massive’ in ‘MMORPG'”
That said, if you do decide to stick to your character, you can enjoy a wide variety of customisation options (you can even download custom characters other players have uploaded online). You’ll pick between a generic male and female character in the beginning to set your foundation (I did find this a little jarring when I picked a male character, equipped a female Simulacra, and ended up still sounding like a guy during voiced scenes).
As for the controls, both my DualShock 4 and Razer Kishi worked perfectly on my Android phone when it came to movement and combat. The menu items, however, still had to be tapped on the touchscreen. I also gave the game a go on my PC, and sadly, neither my DS4 nor my HORI gamepad worked. Keyboard controls are a struggle, to be honest (falling from platforms and getting stuck is very much a possibility), so sticking to the mobile version is probably best.
WHAT’S THE APPEAL?
Tower of Fantasy is a massive beast that you can’t simply breeze through in a single week. I know I’ve barely scratched the surface here, as, on the menu itself, I can clearly see that there are still tons of cool features I have yet to unlock. This includes awesome Relics where you can actually summon mechas to help you out in combat, as well as ride fabulous mechanical unicorns as mounts.
- Another Eden review – “The best of the good ol’ days”
Going through the main quest was a struggle for me as well mainly because I kept getting distracted by the myriad of things to see and do on the world map (there were doggos and kitties I could pet too, which is always a plus). The exhilaration of finding something new is very much alive here, and each achievement you stumble upon in the open world will reward you with useful in-game goodies.
The gacha system, I found, was also pretty generous – the pity system, in particular, is fairer than most. Of course, if you can’t stand gachas and would rather take matters into your own hands instead of leaving your fate to the RNG gods, a less gacha-centric game like Another Eden would probably be your best bet.
Overall, Tower of Fantasy does have a lot going for it apart from being just a Genshin lookalike. If you’re a fan of the mobile juggernaut, you might want to give Tower of Fantasy a go for a change of pace. And if you’re not, it’s a free-to-play title anyway, so taking it for a quick spin might not be such a bad idea, either.