Tower of Fantasy review: Already a crumbling vestige

Tower of Fantasy art

Tower of Fantasy is another grasp for the Genshin Impact crown, as developer Hotta Studio’s attempt appears to be for naught.

The gacha genre is in yet another phase of evolution right now. Think of it as growing pains and think of the growing pains also including a bone splintering through the skin. That’s Tower of Fantasy.

A grossly detestable game from out the gate, Tower of Fantasy combines MMO with gacha to an effect that has a negative impact on the entire game. Even worse, the game is just another bad gacha title to line the pits of the app stores it spawns from.

Tower of Fantasy key details

  • Developer: Hotta Studio
  • Price: Free, with in-app purchases
  • Release Date: August 11, 2022 (Global)
  • Platforms: PC, iOS, Android

Best intentions

Tower of Fantasy has no identity. Despite the best intentions, the character creator is filled to the gills with people providing you with options to play as either 2B, a Hololive idol, or someone else from Genshin Impact. Even the game’s own provided presets all look vaguely Genshin-y.

Despite this hollowness, the character creator does offer some fun as you see how far you can take things.

Tower of Fantasy takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, which after being introduced to the lineup of stock anime characters, made me wish that it had never hit the ‘post’ bit.

A heinous cast of Western voice actors makes up the shrill and grim attempts at hitting just about every Western dubbed anime trope you can think of. It’s not even done interestingly, as it attempts to get to its plot a little too soon.

Switching this over to the Japanese, Chinese and Korean voice acting helps offset this. As with Genshin Impact, the Chinese voice acting is the strongest out of the three.

Tower of Fantasy story

It also doesn’t help that a key plot point is completely spoilt in the art and the gacha banner itself. When the said character does have their moment, there’s no tension outside of the small moment I thought that the game was going to up the ante by executing an anime girl in the first 30 to 40 minutes of the game.

Instead, it opts for the safe route and you’re then left to navigate the hoard of in-world jargon and a vast amount of explanations. Thankfully, some of it isn’t voice-acted.

Whiffle bat combat

Combat in Tower of Fantasy is a huge whiff, with it being all flash and no substance. This appears to be following the same route as Genshin Impact, ensuring that mobile users don’t feel out of their depth with just a touch screen.

Tower of Fantasy Combat

However, with Genshin, at least there is some concept of strategy, and choice in characters has an overall effect on the combat.

Here, in Tower of Fantasy, the game simply has you swapping between three weapons in hopes that you’ve equipped the correct element in your loadout.

This isn’t an ‘I hope it’s the right one so I can succeed’, but more of an ‘I hope I have the right one so I don’t have to sit through this any longer.’

As there’s no way to change between loadouts mid-fight, you essentially keep going through a variety of enemies and eventually keel over. It’s essentially brute forcing your way through most scenarios, as there’s very little reason to plan ahead.

All of this is surrounded by the game’s overbearing reliance on the gacha mechanic. Gacha, for those uninitiated, is based on Japanese ‘gachapon’. Think of the little machines you put your change in and get an egg with some useless, random trinket in. Now apply that to acquiring needed things in the game and you have gacha.

I’m a deep addict of the gacha genre, seeing where it goes and the twists each game tries to come up with, but none have ever been so horrendous at actually providing it. Even the worst games will have their gacha on lockdown, but Tower of Fantasy has decided to combine this with an MMO.

No MMOre

Tower of Fantasy combat

See, with most gacha games you wind up acquiring units or weapons that might not be ‘meta’, but will still actively allow you to participate in the harder content or even the competitive side of things.

In games like Destiny Child, you’re going to want to gun for the ‘correct’ characters for your party, but you’ll still see off-meta teams reaching higher echelons. Other games, like GranBlue Fantasy, have such a wide berth of characters that every player is going to at least have one.

Even if they don’t, it’s a malicious (or good) incentive to coerce players into eventually betting earnt or paid currency at a chance at grabbing that ‘meta’ character. Or like Magic: The Gathering, where a low-cost deck can dominate a game simply due to the mechanics available.

As Tower of Fantasy has combined this with an MMO, where either being on point and able to provide the best support you can, has led to the party system in the co-operative modes becoming a weird ooze of confusion.

If, say, a player wants to go for the healing route for the party, if they don’t have that one particular character that’s deemed top-tier, the party is going to suffer for it as a whole. It ruins the concept of an MMO, where the further your character has progressed, the naturally better they’re going to be able to provide for their role.

Bad gacha

Tower of Fantasy gacha results

Tower of Fantasy relies so heavily on the gacha mechanic, that you’re eventually going to be left in the dirt, simply due to the fact that you decided that this poor piece of software wasn’t worth inputting your card details into.

Then, on top of this, there’s the fact that it’s still a bad gacha game. Gacha games come in a few varieties, with games like Genshin Impact focusing on the character aspect, or other titles, like Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia, opting to use a weapon system to allow players to use their favorite Final Fantasy characters.

Tower of Fantasy tries to have it both ways but is mainly a weapon-focused gacha title. Each roll will earn you weapons, which you’ll probably bin off in favor of the higher-tier weapons you found earlier.

One step back into the void

Tower of Fantasy characters

The other portion comes in the form of the ‘Simulacra’. These stem from specific weapons and will grant you a skin to play as the character that originally held the weapon.

One of the best-received things in the game is the character creation and you’re now allowing these time investments to simply don a skinsuit and walk around as a character they might not even know. It feels even worse when you realize there’s a large grind to get the gameplay benefits to them, other than you the weapon they used.

To actually get to know these characters, you have to then play their story quest after you’ve unlocked the skin. Genshin Impact made wanting certain characters desirable because of their actions in the game’s actual story. There’s no reason to care about the stories outside of their material gain.

Making matters even worse outside of the horrendous gacha, bad MMO and bad moment-to-moment gameplay are that there are about 16 different currencies to keep track of. Three relate to the gacha and it is a goddamn nightmare. A capitalistic sausage-making machine, where one currency leads to another and to another to eventually get some sort of reward, which was then lost in the maze of menus.

Tower of Fantasy log

For a game so hell-bent on either being or beating Genshin Impact, it’s very funny that it uses a near identical font to its competitor.

There’s no reason for things to be this complex, no reason for a gacha game to have all of this. It’s a crutch to keep you going, as the game has absolutely nothing going for it.

The Verdict – 3/10

Adventuring through the land is so limp and lifeless, with features pulled from Genshin or Breath of the Wild, or whatever other game it decided to do slightly worse, that it becomes a homogenous, grotesque blob. Tower of Fantasy is a complete failure in almost every aspect.

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