Dark Tower

Dark Tower
Players:
1
Multiplayer:No
AI:Yes, 3 modes: Easy, Medium and Hard
Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:
Dark Tower
Price: $2.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
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Dark Tower, 7.1 out of 10 based on 9 ratings

Way back in 1981, there existed a board game ahead of its time. Dark Tower was an electronic dungeon crawler game for 1-4 players, which had an onboard computer that tracked player’s progress throughout the entire game. Built into the plastic dark tower itself, the computer even played music at key moments during the game. Much like iPad board games of today, this basic computer took away the boring parts of a game (scoring, keeping track of resources), allowing the players to focus on the fun. Such was its popularity, that to obtain a copy these days will cost you in excess of £250.

Dark Tower

Sadly, the Dark Tower game I am reviewing is not an adaptation of that brilliant original, despite the moniker and retro look. As yet, I have been unable to find an iPad variant – even though one exists on Android.

This particular Dark Tower is inspired by a Chinese RPG called Magic Tower, of which there are many terrible Flash variants available online. Dark Tower replicates the retro look and feel of this aged dungeon crawler, but does it fare any better?

GAMEPLAY

As expected with any old-school dungeon crawler, Dark Tower is formulaic. As you guide your hero through each maze-like dungeon, you’ll fight the mobs, grab gold and loot, and collect keys. These keys give you access to different parts of a dungeon, providing battles with more creatures and unlocking additional loot. Every key is colour-coded to match a door, and there are several of each. Key management is paramount; if you don’t plan ahead, you could end up being locked out of a room, preventing you from progressing. If this happens, there is no undo – you’ll have to quit and restart, unless you have enough gold to buy a key from a merchant.

Dark Tower

As soon as you approach a creature, combat ensues – assuming you have enough health and damage power. Combat consists of a popup screen which shows the damage being doled out by both sides, and the outcome. Thankfully you can skip through the animation to the outcome.

Combat screen

Combat screen

Mobs drop loot in the shape of gold coins, which you can use to buy keys and health potions from merchants who are located in some dungeons. As you defeat enemies, you gain XP stars which allows you to upgrade your character. Health potions, armour and weapon upgrades can be collected, providing you have the keys to access the rooms they’re stored in.

Get your wares from the merchant

Get your wares from the merchant

IMPLEMENTATION

Unlike the aforementioned Flash variants of the original, Dark Tower feels like a fully-fledged – albeit simple – RPG. With painstaking attention to detail, the sprites breathe life into the experience. Rat’s eyes glow, torches flicker and goblins brandish their clubs menacingly. The sound effects suit the retro feel, whilst the music matches the dark mood.

Dark Tower

The interface works quite well for the most part, except for the movement buttons. Positioned initially on the lower-right corner, you can change both their position and size. Irrespective of configuration, I didn’t find them as responsive as I’d hoped. Personally I prefer the more fluid controls many iPad games have, which are rather like analog sticks. Nonetheless, the controls are by no means a game breaker and tend to work better on iPhone.

The bestiary

The bestiary

On the menu, you can access a bestiary, a character sheet, a mini-map and a teleport. All four screens are visually appealing, with a medieval theme that suits the game. As you encounter new creatures, they are added to the bestiary, providing you with intelligence on their stats as well as humorous descriptions. On the character sheet, you can keep track of your hero and upgrade health, weapons and shield.

The character sheet.

The character sheet.

By referring to the mini-map, you can strategically plan your route around the current dungeon, to ensure you access every area with the right keys. Finally, the teleport option allows you to return to previously encountered dungeons. This is a nice feature; if you were too weak to defeat an earlier enemy, you can return to wreak vengeance.

The mini-map

The mini-map

VERDICT

7/10 Slightly clunky controls aside, Dark Tower is a faithful representation of old-school RPGs. Whilst the graphics won’t be to everyone’s taste, retro gamers and Zelda fans alike should enjoy the hack ‘n’ slash fun.