Tower of Fantasy Review – Genshin Impact Meets Cyberpunk

    Title: Tower of Fantasy
    Developer: Hotta Studio
    Release Date: August 10, 2022
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Level Infinite
    Genre: Action RPG

When 2022 began, Tower of Fantasy was unveiled to be coming worldwide to PC and mobile. Fast forward four months later, and we had the closed beta test. Now, the game is finally released. Have the bugs from the closed beta been fixed? Is this truly the so-called “Genshin killer” as people have been preaching?

Before we start, a refresher is in order for those who just haven’t heard of this title before. Tower of Fantasy is a sci-fi open-world game released in China where the story is about how humanity created a new civilization on a planet called Aida, and by doing so, came across a mysterious yet potent energy called Omnium. After humanity attempted to mine this precious material, plans sadly took a turn for the worse, and the world was devastated by the event known as the Omnium Cataclysm, decimating most of the race in the process.

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You might be wondering why I said the words “Genshin killer” at the beginning of this review. Well, there’s a good reason for that. If you think the game looks and feels a lot similar to HoYoverse’s Genshin Impact, then you’re not alone, as Tower of Fantasy is meant to directly compete with it.

That isn’t bad per se. In fact, it’s great to have competition on the market, as that incentivizes changes within the industry, which can be a good thing. However, Tower of Fantasy‘s mechanics and elements fall apart as mere copycats from its contemporary under the tiniest of scrutiny. There are some original ideas and quality of life improvements, and I did have somewhat high expectations that as the game developed more from its closed beta phase, it would manage to distance itself. Unfortunately, that didn’t end up being the case.

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Regarding the story, there were many times where it felt really engaging, while other times it was a complete letdown, for the lack of a better word. It’s definitely got some padding, and the cutscenes look nice, but their transitions sometimes feel stiff and awkward, with the sense of continuity and immersion being broken more times than I can count.

The NPCs also feel generic, with little to no difference between them, even when you get to the later regions. Side quests will also quickly feel repetitive, as they consist mostly of collecting X items to deliver to A person or defeating Y enemies because person B said so, making the experience alarmingly boring.

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If you were thinking of playing Tower of Fantasy with a controller, forget it, as support for that continues to be absolutely non-existent. Even when you plug in one, even basic inputs such as collecting items and opening chests will have you lean to your keyboard and press the designated key. This issue also extends to the mobile version of the game.

Another frustrating element is that during certain points in the story, you’ll be faced with a time gate, forcing you to do something else while you wait for it to unlock, even though the content is already available. And this lock also extends to the chests you find in the open world as well as your Wanderer Level.

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Now, let’s talk about the gacha. My feelings for the system have remained mostly unchanged since the closed beta. The chances of getting a 5-star weapon are still very low, as you can imagine, but at the very least, unlike its contemporaries, it doesn’t separate a character from their signature weapon.

Instead, the character will join you with their Simulacrum and let you take on their abilities without separating the two together. With that being said, the number of currencies with the dozens of exchange shops and currency types can be understandably confusing at a glance.

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While Tower of Fantasy is a compelling title, having some great original ideas of its own, it ultimately fails to distance itself from its main competitor in both a meaningful and impactful way. If what you’re looking for is an MMORPG and a setback from Genshin Impact‘s fantasy-style story, the cyberpunk accent on the design and post-apocalyptic story are some of its stronger points.

However, from the constant localization mishaps to the design feeling like a copycat, I was constantly left with the urge to just drop the game and play something else, as it had failed to keep me engaged for more than a couple of minutes every time. Further, as much as I tried, I just couldn’t stop comparing it to Genshin Impact, which harms the identity it’s trying to pass as. And only time will tell if this will ever change in the future.

Score:
6.5/10
A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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