An action-RPG, Pandora's Tower tells the tale of Aeron, a young soldier who has to brave 13 towers in order to lift a curse that has befallen his lover.
The curse that plagues Elena, Aeron's beloved, slowly transforms her into a monster.
During a harvest festival, Elena, who has been chosen to sing at the celebration, suddenly transforms into a giant beast and wreaks havoc upon the town. Once she finally settles, a strange old woman, called Mavda, appears and explains to him what is happening to her and how he can lift her curse.
The pair are led to an observatory (which also serves as your base) overlooking the thirteen towers. There, Aeron receives a magical chain which will aid him in his quest.
This chain is used extensively in battle, and is also a necessary item used to solve the various puzzles throughout the game. In order to lift the curse, he has to climb each tower and retrieve the flesh of the master beast that resides at the top.
When entering any of the towers, a timer appears next to the player's health bar, measuring how much time Elena has before the curse takes over her. Thus, once the timer runs out, it's game over.
Beast flesh needs to be taken back to Elena in order to reset the timer and keep the curse at bay while Master flesh weakens the curse and advances the story.
So, what's it like?
Each tower is plays out in a similar fashion to dungeons in The Legend of Zelda series.
In each tower, the door to the boss is sealed shut by two chains. In order to unlock the door, the origin of the chain has to be found and destroyed. Doing this also helps the player get a better feel of the tower layout, making backtracking through the tower easier in order to return to the observatory.
There are also various shortcuts that can be activated as well as items that can transport you back to the base.
Only one tower is available at the start, with the next becoming available when the master of the tower is defeated. Towers that have been cleared can be accessed at any time in order to explore further and obtain loot specific to that location.
Back at the observatory, items obtained can then be sold, synthesised to create different items, or used to upgrade your weapons. Some items can also be given to Elena, who can use it to create healing items and upgrade your pouch and sash. Additionally, you'll need to rest, allowing you to regain health and pass time.
The relationship between yourself and Elena also comes into play, with players able to give her gifts and talk to her to improve the relationship. Players have to be careful though, since some items can also damage your relationship.
Combat is enjoyable thanks to the number of weapons, as well as the way the Wii remote has been utilised. Thankfully, the developers have mapped the main attack to the A button, while swinging the remote or nunchuck is used for certain moves only. The pointer is used to target specific parts of a monster's body (with the chain being used to attack) and certain parts of the environment such as ledges or crystals.
The chain can also be used to destroy crates and pick up items. Holding the Z buttons guards against attacks, while holding the analogue stick as well lets you evade.
Of course, for those who want a more traditional control scheme, the classic controller is also supported.
The graphics are not as great as it could have been, but the game still looks pretty decent. Though some environmental textures do look very blurry, the art behind it is very well done, with nothing really looking out of place.
On the sound front, the English dub is one of the game's strong points, and suits the overall look of the game perfectly. Character designs are great and they are given even more life through some amazing voice acting. It is certainly levels above most Japanese RPG dubs.
Pandora's Tower is a pretty unique experience as far as action RPGs are concerned, with the chain making combat and exploration fun. And the developer actually makes you care about the characters thanks to the narrative and voice-acting. Needless to say, it's a great addition to any gamer's library.
Score: 9 out of 10