Published on September 3rd, 2013 | by idnthav10
Review: Pandora’s Tower
Developer(s): Nintendo, Ganbarion
Publisher: Nintendo, XSEED Games
Release Date: May 26, 2011 (JP), April 12, 2012 (AUS), April 13, 2012 (EU), April 16, 2013 (NA)
Perfect (or close enough to it)
The final pillar of the “Operation Rainfall” trio, Pandora’s Tower was published earlier this year in the US. Preceded by Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story, does it truly stack up to the hype that the previous entries in the trio caused? Find out with our review of Pandora’s Tower.
The plot centers on Aeron and Elena, who live in the Kingdom of Elyria, located in Imperia. Elena was chosen to sing at the Harvest Festival and is interrupted and cursed, slowly turning into a beast. Aeron finds her, now with the Elyrian Army after them, and they escape with the help of a Vestra merchant named Mavda. She plays a big part in the game, providing your shop and crafting. They take refuge at a military observation post that was used to watch over the Thirteen Towers held by chains restraining and hanging over “The Scar”, a chasm that disrupts the land if it continues to open. Mavda then claims she has seen Elena’s curse before and, to lift it, Aeron must use the Oraclos Chain (your main weapon) to retrieve the flesh of the monsters that reside in the Thirteen Towers. Mavda explains the only way to truly remove the curse is to feed Elena the flesh of the Twelve Masters of the Towers (fun fact: eating meat is actually forbidden in Elena’s religion).
With your task at hand, you will traverse the tower with your 4 weapons: the Athosian Sword, the Twinblades, the Military Scythe, and the Explosive Stake – you eventually need to find those last 3 weapons. They can be upgraded using items you’ve scavenged, unlocking charge moves and combos. You can also equip armor, gemstones, and amulets to boost your stats, but they’ll require repairs if too heavily damaged.
Aeron carries the Oraclos chain given to him by Mavda which is infused with a small amount of Elena’s hair. This becomes a gauge to keep track of Elena’s transformation progress. Acquiring the chain, you can bind enemies, lift and throw them, get hard to reach objects, swing from hooks, unlock doors, and pull switches. While you explore the Towers, you are able to kill the wandering monsters that will drop flesh you can feed to Elena to slow the progress of the transformation (you will definitely notice something the more flesh you retrieve *wink*). The flesh allows time for some wanted grinding or item searching. Feeding Elena later becomes a must; the dungeons become elaborate and take time to explore. Each tower is equipped with it’s own theme: fire, water, earth, wood, or metal. The given properties apply to the Masters of the respective tower.
The towers become progressively complex leaving you to figure out a way to progress to its Master; and by this, I mean it will take time to figure out what to do. One of the things I appreciated about the game is that it doesn’t hold your hand. You are thrown in to discover where to go and what to do, really giving you a sense of adventure, and wonder. Reaching the Masters requires the player to destroy chains in the tower preventing entrance in the boss room starting with one increasing each tower as more masters are defeated. The fights against the Masters are amazingly clever, and the chain is required to slay the beasts. The fights will roll out like a puzzle in which you must find the monster’s weak spot; all are unique and demand different strategies. That doesn’t mean they won’t kick your ass either, some can and will kill you once or twice. The encounters become thrilling and engaging to complete the mission: rip the flesh out.
A rather important part of the game is Elena’s affinity with Aeron, which increases with constant interaction. You’ll have to initiate conversations and present her clothes and fabrics she makes into bedspreads and tablecloths. Strengthening the bond rewards you with special items, and affects which one of the game’s 5 endings you’ll watch. Fret not, a New Game+ is there for those who want to achieve all the endings. The closer to the end you are, the more is revealed about how the towers came to be. All the bits untold at the beginning, brimming with extensive amounts of lore. You will frequently pick up diary notes and journal detailing everything from the land’s history to the Thirteen Towers.
Now for some of my problems with the game. There aren’t many so I’ll make this quick. The voice acting for Aeron is “meh”… I got used to it eventually. There is no camera control, so if you are trying to hit something with your chain and it’s slightly off-screen, it can start flipping out. It only happened a few times, so I wasn’t torn by it. Some people have complained about the texture quality which, to me, does not matter. This is a case of, “Is the game fun?” Yes, it is. I was lost here and there in the later levels, but hell, I’d rather be lost and curious than bored and have the game spell it out for me. The characters themselves are, well… about a third of them are bland. Aeron shows no emotion, no real feelings, rather visual feelings towards Elena. It is obvious he loves her, yet the way it is portrayed… Aeron is basically a silent protagonist. He barely speaks, maybe one to two lines here and there. Again, as stated before, I got used to it. Elena on the other hand is like the complete opposite. She’s very quirky, adorable, and energetic. She strives for normalcy despite her curse, not knowing how much longer she can control of herself. She treasures the days she spends with the man she loves. When she does partially transform, she insists that she’s fine to not worry Aeron. Mavda surprisingly had a very good voice actor; she’s played out quite well for somewhat of a side character.
Pandora’s Tower offers great action, clever/tough fights, extensive lore that brings it all full circle in the end, massive tower puzzles that actually make you think, and a classic love story — what more is there to ask for? None of the insignificant issues like the ones I previously mentioned take away from the overall experience. For the low price of $30, you too can own this beautiful game that had unfortunate timing, releasing close to the end of the Wii’s life span. Go out and buy the game, dust off your Wii and have a good time.
Final Score: 5 out of 5
Check out the trailer for Pandora’s Tower below; the review doesn’t do the game justice without a hands-on experience: