Title: TOKOYO: The Tower of Perpetuity
Release Date: June 1, 2022
Reviewed On: Switch
TOKOYO: The Tower of Perpetuity is likely one of those darlings in the Japanese indie Doujinshi scene that you either know absolutely nothing about, or you just happen to be one of the select few who is part of this elusive underground gaming scene. Like numerous titles from this scene, this one is a roguelike but here, the randomness is tied to a living, breathing online community.
It’s been part of the Steam’s early access lineup since late 2020, and it has now launched in its complete form, feeling right at home on the Nintendo Switch eShop. All things considered, this is a pretty inexpensive release, and for fans of indie roguelikes, the replay value present here is both compelling and quite novel too.
The setup is quite simple, a mysterious tower emerges in the middle of a wasteland, and it’s up to a team of magical anime girls, each with their own backstory, to climb this perpetual labyrinth to reach the very top floor… if there even is one. While the artwork and character designs are interesting, there’s really no meaningful lore here, but even so, the game has a way of creating mystery and intrigue with its combination of random characters and roguelike elements present in the game’s design.
The tower you traverse in this game changes every day… literally. Although there is no multiplayer, this is a fully online experience and when you first start out you might notice a countdown clock on the HUD, which resets every 24 hours to introduce an entirely new tower dungeon each time.
Rather than using an in-game algorithm, new towers are generated by the game’s server, and so the degree of randomization is far deeper than what you’d expect. Having these dungeons created by the online server means that no matter who is playing the game from whichever corner of the globe, all players will explore the exact same tower each day. Although the execution of this is simple, you can’t help but admire how well this all comes together.
Complementing this design are online leaderboards updated daily, and it becomes clear that although this may look like a niche title, there is a strong cross-platform community for it thanks to the game’s success during the early access period. There are a lot of players helping this game thrive, with many even contributing custom character skins that you can download. It’s really one of those word-of-mouth communities, with a subtle online interaction reminiscent of games like Death Stranding as players leave messages behind.
In terms of the core game itself, this is a pretty basic platformer and with the roguelike elements, the level design and platforming can be quite haphazard as different layouts are presented with each new tower. Your primary function is to jump, and 95% time you’ll be jumping through sections while navigating traps and enemies. The jumping mechanic is on point, with the double jump timing being nuanced enough to help you squeeze through the tightest of segments.
There is some measure of combat, as each of the playable characters has their own special attack, but this can only be activated after the special meter is full and the automatic attack remains activated for a limited duration before the meter needs to be charged again. So in terms of combat, the experience feels quite passive as for the most part you need to be jumping and dodging before you can activate your special move for a limited duration.
The gameplay at its core feels basic, but there is some hidden depth to it as various upgrades and items can be collected to enhance abilities, such as a longer jump or faster movement.
There are boss battles too, which mostly require you to study and dodge their attack patterns before activating your special when there is a brief opening. There isn’t a whole lot to the basic gameplay, but no doubt there are layers of depth to the design and how it plays off its online elements.
TOKOYO: The Tower of Perpetuity is a game worth having on your Switch digital library, simply because of its pick-up and play appeal, and also because it offers an experience that literally renews itself on a daily basis. Also, this is far from a solitary roguelike experience, as you’ll be part of an active community, one where everyone takes on an entirely new journey together each day.
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