It’s always like this: when a game gets huge success among the public, the competition tends to propose similar products to win a slice of the market. We saw it a few years ago with the battle royale and we are seeing it more recently with the free open world in Genshin Impact style. The Hoyoverse title managed to capture the attention of fans by offering a huge freely explorable world and a gacha system that, while allowing the purchase of characters, allows anyone to download the title and enjoy it in all its aspects without paying a cent.
Well, the first real competitor of Genshin Impact has just landed on PC and mobile: Tower of Fantasy. Thanks to the opportunity given to us by the development team, we spent many hours in the company of the game and we are ready to reveal its strengths while waiting for the review.
Just start Tower of Fantasy for a few moments to understand how much you don’t like getting lost in chatter too much. After a brief introduction that introduces us to the futuristic world of Aida, a planet on which the few survivors of the Earth have managed to find a new home following the exhaustion of all the energy resources useful for survival, we are immediately thrown into action. And that’s where the biggest difference between Genshin Impact and Hotta Studio’s title comes up: the combat system.
There is no artifact management here and there are no party members with unique abilities, as everything revolves around weapons. The player has the decision to equip three tools of death from a rather large selection: each weapon has a unique skill and movesetnot to mention the ability to switch from one to the other by unleashing a special attack that recharges by dint of playing them to enemies.
Combined with the double jump and dodge, which if performed perfectly slows down time for a while, you can guess how much the action is much more frenetic and requires a completely different style of play than what was seen in Genshin Impact.
After a series of battles with the sword inside a cave that are an introduction to the gameplay, we are mortally wounded by a monstrous creature with canine features and then awaken in a sort of base of operations where we are subjected to a short tutorial which helps us both learn the basic mechanics and get to know the main characters. During this phase we learned another welcome feature of Hotta Studio’s production: the ability to bypass an entire dialogue at the push of a button. Not all players enjoy long chats, especially when it comes to side missions or particular events, and such a feature helps reduce downtime and never break the action.
At one point, a dialogue with one of the NPCs on the base started thecharacter editor, since in Tower of Fantasy you can change the appearance of the protagonist (or the protagonist) to your liking. This is one of the most successful components of the experience, as it allows for significant character customization.
What surprised us is even the impossibility of associating certain hairstyles with specific clothes, in order to avoid polygonal interpenetrations annoying to the eye. The editor, which can also be called up later, also concerns clothing and boasts a system through which users can share their creations online. In short, this is an aspect that will hardly not meet the tastes of the players.
A world to be explored
If we haven’t talked aboutopen world of Tower of Fantasy until now, it’s because that component of the game deserves a separate mention. The portion of the map we explored in our test it didn’t impress us from a design point of view, as these are very simple scenarios that alternate with natural landscapes such as canyons, forests, small camps and technological structures built by man or by locals. Compensating for the lack of character of the setting is the excellent system through which it is possible to move between the areas that characterize the game world.
Basically we have one available mechanics for climbing very similar to that of The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild (to learn more, here is the review of The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild), which works quite well and allows fluid movements on all surfaces, without hitches of any kind. The double jumpwhich can be combined with the aerial dodgethanks to which considerable distances can be covered without the aid of tools or vehicles.
Yes, because in Tower of Fantasy you can use one wide range of accessories that contribute to improving the navigation experience of Aida: grapples, jet-packs, surfboards, mounts, motorcycles and so on and so forth. The use of these devices makes it very easy to move around (you can still take advantage of the fast travel between checkpoints) and avoids long walks towards the goal.
As for the map density, we are satisfied with the number of enemy positions, chests to open, animals to hunt and crystals to destroy (the collection takes place automatically). In this case, however, we will have to explore the map in its entirety to make a definitive judgment, since the walkable surface seems to have quite generous dimensions and it will be essential that each area has numerous different activities and biomes.
As already mentioned above, one of the peculiarities of Tower of Fantasy lies precisely in its gacha system. By investing the money or resources accumulated by playing in the shop, it is possible to unlock exclusively weapons: the only exception concerns a selection of combat tools which, unlike the others, are accompanied by Simulacrasome chips containing the data of a fighter of which we can assume the appearance.
These are therefore skins, some of which also have unique abilities and animations that are unlocked through advanced mechanisms that we have not been able to discover, since in our test we did not get our hands on the SSR weaponsequivalent of the 5 Stars of Genshin Impact.
We will not therefore go into the detail of the drop rates and the accumulation of resources for free, since this aspect requires careful analysis after reaching the endgame and unlocking every aspect of the experience. What we can tell you about is there instead variety of weapons, all fun to use and well diversified from each other. Between bows, sickles, hammers, double swords and many other accessories, Tower of Fantasy allows a rather varied style of play, as long as you have enough luck with the loot boxes. The only doubt concerns the long-term stability of the formula: there is a risk that the new weapon archetypes are not very original and that the gameplay tends to be repetitive. Another delicate aspect concerns the PvP balancea modality that could have unpleasant implications in a title of this type.
An anime to play
From a technical standpoint, Tower of Fantasy looks very good and with one graphic style almost identical to that seen in Genshin Impact, with anime-style characters and three-dimensional backdrops. If the level of detail of the models is more than discrete, the same cannot be said for the scenarios, which are often bare. There are also qualitative fluctuations regarding the artistic direction. The main faces of the adventure are in fact very well made and characteristic, while the creatures that populate the first areas of the game world know they have already seen.
We must highlight the presence of some drop in framerate too many on PC, although it is possible that these issues are about to vanish with the debut of the final version. The last note concerns the control system, because we have to confirm thelack of support for PC controllerswhich we hope will be introduced soon to ensure total freedom for players.
In short, Tower of Fantasy is an interesting product especially on the play front, although its effectiveness in the medium / long term is yet to be verified. Waiting to be able to talk to you in depth about the endgame and the gacha mechanics in the review, we remind you that Tower of Fantasy is free on PC, Android, iPhone and iPad.
Tower of Fantasy: a new free open world rival for Genshin Impact