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'[GAME] Pandora's Tower'

This thread has been linked to the game 'Pandora's Tower'.
Thu 26/07/12 at 23:51:
Regular
Posts: 261
Pandora’s Tower is an action RPG developed by Ganbarion and published by Nintendo. This is Ganbarion’s first original IP.

Pandora’s Tower is the game that interested me most from the triad of Operation Rainfall. This is surprising to me considering that The Last Story was developed by a studio headed by the creator of Final Fantasy with music from Nobuo Uematsu and Xenoblade Chronicles was created by a studio with a series of games under their belt and had almost universal positive praise from reviewers. Pandora’s Tower has a lower budget when compared to these games which also means that the game is smaller in scale. The game has had some mixed reviews from its European release and it is the only game left from Operation Rainfall to yet to have a confirmed US release.

The game starts with Elena, an 18 year old songstress, performing at the Harvest Festival in the Kingdom of Elyria. During the performance the city is attacked by monsters and Elena becomes cursed and transforms into a beast. The protagonist, Aeron, a 22 year old ex-soldier, finds Elena unconscious in her human form. As the Elyrian army search for them both, they are escorted to an Observatory by an old lady, Mavda, who seems to know about the curse. The curse is symbolized as the tattoo on Elena’s back. Over time Elena slowly transforms into a beast and Aeron can temporarily reset her to her normal form by feeding her the flesh of monsters that are found in the 13 towers. Mavda explains that to remove the curse; Aeron must obtain the flesh of 13 Master beasts that live within the 13 Towers of the Scar. To obtain the flesh from enemies, it must be ripped from them by using a weapon known as the Oraclos Chain.

After reading the story you can draw similarities to Shadow of the Colossus: A young man heads off to slay giant creatures to undo a curse of their loved one. Mavda can be seen as the equivalent of the Dormin as you don’t know whether you can trust her and the Masters in the towers are also passive until attacked. This is where the similarities end though.

You can only fast travel between the observatory and the towers so there isn’t a massive scope for exploration. However, you will be racing against the clock to get monster flesh and make progress in the towers as a meter displays how long you have until Elena changes form. Each tower has a Master door which is held shut by a certain number of chains which you must locate and break within the tower. The timer gives you a sense of urgency to press on with overcoming the unique environmental puzzles within the towers to break some chains and still have time left over to obtain some monster flesh and return to Elena. You aren’t able to complete most of the towers in a single go and even if you wish to push the meter to the limit you would still be expected to go back once at least. If you let the meter run out, she loses her humanity and she’ll eat you when you get home.

The combat is hack and slash for the most part but your chain weapon allows for interesting ways to slay enemies. The method you use on bosses is to use the pointer to aim the chain at their weak spot and pull the chain towards you. This builds tension within the chain and when you flick the Wiimote up, it then causes large amounts of damage. Against a sword wielding enemy you can point the chain at the blade and pull it away from their possession and then swing your chain around to knock enemies over in all directions. You can chain two enemies together so that your damage transfers to both of them, you can spin them around, tether them to objects and slam them into the ground. If you chose to be creative with your attacks it is a lot of fun, but you can mash the A button or hold it for a power slash if you wish. Where you aim with your chain also affects the items that you get from them, so aiming for the body can get you flesh but aiming for the head could get you currency known as Leots or other items to craft with.

Once you hand over the monster flesh to Elena for the first time, she cries and gags as she eats the raw flesh, which is mildly disturbing to watch. As the game goes on she eventually starts to love eating it and wolfs it down like a wild animal. When Elena eats Master flesh, she faints and begins to have dreams which eventually explain the story in full.

Mavda serves as a merchant for you in the game and she seems to live in your closet. You can use Leots and items that you accumulate in the towers to buy and craft items or upgrade weapons. Mavda also will buy spare flesh and text information that you find in the towers. You have a small equipment slot to fill with your weapon, armour, necklace, ring, bracelet and other items to help you take a beating in the towers. However, not only do you have to buy items for yourself; you also have to buy gifts for Elena as well.

As well as a meter for tracking her beast state, you also have an Affinity meter which shows how close Elena and Aeron are with each other. This meter starts at the bottom and slowly rises if you chat with her, give gifts and monster flesh. The gift giving changes the scenery of the observatory as Elena puts them to use: Buy her some flower seeds and she will plant them in the garden; buy her some tea leaves and you will see her making a cup of tea; buy her some cloth and she will make a table cloth or some bead sheets etc. You can change her appearance by buying clothing and jewelry which will be seen in cut scenes as well. Only on the first few gifts of certain items will she make stuff for you e.g. you can give her some berries which she can make into a pie or give her moss which she can make into medicine. The observatory has plenty of books which Elena spends her time reading, allowing her to translate text for you that you can’t read. Once she translates it for you, you can read it and sell it to Mavda.

The game has a 24 hour clock which will have an effect on what Elena does depending on what time you get back to her. You could see her cooking, hanging laundry, reading books, singing or staring at the sunset. All the details of Elena’s day are a good way for the game to make you care about her fate.

Your affinity with Elena will drop if you come back to her late and she is close to transforming. You may see her trying to mop up the slime she leaves behind her or feebly attempt to serve your dinner. The meter will also drop if you offer her some less romantic items like a beasts tooth or some strange grains. The Affinity meter affects what ending you get at the end of the game and you will have to spend a fair amount of Leots to get the best ending.

The Affinity meter also affects how Elena acts towards you. She may wave to you and tell you to be careful before you leave for one of the towers and some cutscenes will trigger that won't at lower levels of affinity.

If you fail to get the best ending or wish to see the other 4 endings you have New Game+ mode which keeps all your equipment and allows you to start from the Prologue, before the 6th Tower, before the 11th Tower or before the Final Tower. Mavda sells you a red key which unlocks doors that you couldn't previously open on the first playthrough, giving you an incentive to go back through all the towers. In these doors you will find rare items which allow you to upgrade your weapons even further and also find a final new weapon to use.

The negatives are that after you beat the first five towers, the next five towers have some elements of the previous towers copied over and that the final tower was quite confusing for me as you have to activate invisible portals and I had to concede and use a guide for that point. Also the creatures can take a while to defeat which takes up time that could be used to solve the tower.

The towers have fairly interesting designs for you to observe and overcome, but the real fun comes from facing the Masters, which require observation of their behavior and their weak spot. I rarely managed to beat them on my first try without being late for Elena and ultimately I enjoyed figuring them out. This coupled with the RPG choice of spending on yourself or Elena and the urgency that the beast meter provides makes Pandora's Tower an Interesting and unique game. If the game had more variety in the design of the towers, I would say this would have been my favourite Wii game. I suppose that was a limitation of the game's budget. The ending twist is pretty good, and thanks to the good parts and Elena's disturbing monster scenes I don't think i'll forget this game anytime soon.

If you are going to buy one hack and slash/dating sim/action RPG this year, make it Pandora’s Tower.

8/10
There have been no replies to this thread yet.
Thu 26/07/12 at 23:51:
Regular
Posts: 261
Pandora’s Tower is an action RPG developed by Ganbarion and published by Nintendo. This is Ganbarion’s first original IP.

Pandora’s Tower is the game that interested me most from the triad of Operation Rainfall. This is surprising to me considering that The Last Story was developed by a studio headed by the creator of Final Fantasy with music from Nobuo Uematsu and Xenoblade Chronicles was created by a studio with a series of games under their belt and had almost universal positive praise from reviewers. Pandora’s Tower has a lower budget when compared to these games which also means that the game is smaller in scale. The game has had some mixed reviews from its European release and it is the only game left from Operation Rainfall to yet to have a confirmed US release.

The game starts with Elena, an 18 year old songstress, performing at the Harvest Festival in the Kingdom of Elyria. During the performance the city is attacked by monsters and Elena becomes cursed and transforms into a beast. The protagonist, Aeron, a 22 year old ex-soldier, finds Elena unconscious in her human form. As the Elyrian army search for them both, they are escorted to an Observatory by an old lady, Mavda, who seems to know about the curse. The curse is symbolized as the tattoo on Elena’s back. Over time Elena slowly transforms into a beast and Aeron can temporarily reset her to her normal form by feeding her the flesh of monsters that are found in the 13 towers. Mavda explains that to remove the curse; Aeron must obtain the flesh of 13 Master beasts that live within the 13 Towers of the Scar. To obtain the flesh from enemies, it must be ripped from them by using a weapon known as the Oraclos Chain.

After reading the story you can draw similarities to Shadow of the Colossus: A young man heads off to slay giant creatures to undo a curse of their loved one. Mavda can be seen as the equivalent of the Dormin as you don’t know whether you can trust her and the Masters in the towers are also passive until attacked. This is where the similarities end though.

You can only fast travel between the observatory and the towers so there isn’t a massive scope for exploration. However, you will be racing against the clock to get monster flesh and make progress in the towers as a meter displays how long you have until Elena changes form. Each tower has a Master door which is held shut by a certain number of chains which you must locate and break within the tower. The timer gives you a sense of urgency to press on with overcoming the unique environmental puzzles within the towers to break some chains and still have time left over to obtain some monster flesh and return to Elena. You aren’t able to complete most of the towers in a single go and even if you wish to push the meter to the limit you would still be expected to go back once at least. If you let the meter run out, she loses her humanity and she’ll eat you when you get home.

The combat is hack and slash for the most part but your chain weapon allows for interesting ways to slay enemies. The method you use on bosses is to use the pointer to aim the chain at their weak spot and pull the chain towards you. This builds tension within the chain and when you flick the Wiimote up, it then causes large amounts of damage. Against a sword wielding enemy you can point the chain at the blade and pull it away from their possession and then swing your chain around to knock enemies over in all directions. You can chain two enemies together so that your damage transfers to both of them, you can spin them around, tether them to objects and slam them into the ground. If you chose to be creative with your attacks it is a lot of fun, but you can mash the A button or hold it for a power slash if you wish. Where you aim with your chain also affects the items that you get from them, so aiming for the body can get you flesh but aiming for the head could get you currency known as Leots or other items to craft with.

Once you hand over the monster flesh to Elena for the first time, she cries and gags as she eats the raw flesh, which is mildly disturbing to watch. As the game goes on she eventually starts to love eating it and wolfs it down like a wild animal. When Elena eats Master flesh, she faints and begins to have dreams which eventually explain the story in full.

Mavda serves as a merchant for you in the game and she seems to live in your closet. You can use Leots and items that you accumulate in the towers to buy and craft items or upgrade weapons. Mavda also will buy spare flesh and text information that you find in the towers. You have a small equipment slot to fill with your weapon, armour, necklace, ring, bracelet and other items to help you take a beating in the towers. However, not only do you have to buy items for yourself; you also have to buy gifts for Elena as well.

As well as a meter for tracking her beast state, you also have an Affinity meter which shows how close Elena and Aeron are with each other. This meter starts at the bottom and slowly rises if you chat with her, give gifts and monster flesh. The gift giving changes the scenery of the observatory as Elena puts them to use: Buy her some flower seeds and she will plant them in the garden; buy her some tea leaves and you will see her making a cup of tea; buy her some cloth and she will make a table cloth or some bead sheets etc. You can change her appearance by buying clothing and jewelry which will be seen in cut scenes as well. Only on the first few gifts of certain items will she make stuff for you e.g. you can give her some berries which she can make into a pie or give her moss which she can make into medicine. The observatory has plenty of books which Elena spends her time reading, allowing her to translate text for you that you can’t read. Once she translates it for you, you can read it and sell it to Mavda.

The game has a 24 hour clock which will have an effect on what Elena does depending on what time you get back to her. You could see her cooking, hanging laundry, reading books, singing or staring at the sunset. All the details of Elena’s day are a good way for the game to make you care about her fate.

Your affinity with Elena will drop if you come back to her late and she is close to transforming. You may see her trying to mop up the slime she leaves behind her or feebly attempt to serve your dinner. The meter will also drop if you offer her some less romantic items like a beasts tooth or some strange grains. The Affinity meter affects what ending you get at the end of the game and you will have to spend a fair amount of Leots to get the best ending.

The Affinity meter also affects how Elena acts towards you. She may wave to you and tell you to be careful before you leave for one of the towers and some cutscenes will trigger that won't at lower levels of affinity.

If you fail to get the best ending or wish to see the other 4 endings you have New Game+ mode which keeps all your equipment and allows you to start from the Prologue, before the 6th Tower, before the 11th Tower or before the Final Tower. Mavda sells you a red key which unlocks doors that you couldn't previously open on the first playthrough, giving you an incentive to go back through all the towers. In these doors you will find rare items which allow you to upgrade your weapons even further and also find a final new weapon to use.

The negatives are that after you beat the first five towers, the next five towers have some elements of the previous towers copied over and that the final tower was quite confusing for me as you have to activate invisible portals and I had to concede and use a guide for that point. Also the creatures can take a while to defeat which takes up time that could be used to solve the tower.

The towers have fairly interesting designs for you to observe and overcome, but the real fun comes from facing the Masters, which require observation of their behavior and their weak spot. I rarely managed to beat them on my first try without being late for Elena and ultimately I enjoyed figuring them out. This coupled with the RPG choice of spending on yourself or Elena and the urgency that the beast meter provides makes Pandora's Tower an Interesting and unique game. If the game had more variety in the design of the towers, I would say this would have been my favourite Wii game. I suppose that was a limitation of the game's budget. The ending twist is pretty good, and thanks to the good parts and Elena's disturbing monster scenes I don't think i'll forget this game anytime soon.

If you are going to buy one hack and slash/dating sim/action RPG this year, make it Pandora’s Tower.

8/10

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