Tower of Souls in Review – My soul cries out in pain!

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I love RPG games. I can return time and time again to the tried and tested classics. And when you look through the screenshots and description of Tower of Souls, it seems like a dream come true. The classic RPG is finally on the iPhone and it’s here to stay. With stellar reviews for the Pocket PC version back in 2003, what could go wrong?

Tower of Souls is a classic RPG game. You are Treeac (you even look a bit like a tree) and you’re charged with the glorifying task of saving your people. To accomplish this, you must go forth to the Spirit Reaper Tower and take back the legendary Nydus Crystals, which were stolen by the baaad baad demon Baalhathrok (even typing this name is hell). Just like taking candy from a baby. Yep. Almost.

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The game features over 100 areas split into 7 levels, on each which you have to retrieve the Nydus crystal. Once you collect all of the crystals, you can open the door to the demon lord himself to make the final strike at Baalhathrok. To do so you can use one of the 32 spells split into 4 categories or numerous swords. You are protected by armour, which may be individually configured to suit your own needs with each piece placed individually. And you also have the all-powerful, but slowly recharging amulet, which clears the field at a tap of the finger.

There are no character levels as such, rather your base stats (which include Strength, Intelligence, Dexterity, Constitution, Health Points, Energy and Magic Points) go up automatically as you make use of them. You can also tailor the character to your own liking at the start of the game using the warrior/mage slider. The MP restore automatically so don’t expect to find any mana potions. The healing process is remarkable in that depending on the type of wounds (cuts or bruises) different methods work better (needle and thread or ointment).

review-tower-of-souls-invThe inventory is one of the most detailed I’ve seen in any RPG with the backpack split into sections covering General, Valuables, Magic, Herbs, etc. Speaking of herbs, Tower of Souls features the most complex, but interesting, alchemy system I’ve ever seen, worth of a separate game all by itself.

Another big part of the game is lock picking and traps. Ok, starting with lock picks – almost all locks in the game may be picked if you don’t have the key. Well, the easy way is no fun, so let’s describe the process. You have 4 types of picks available. Once you choose a lockpick, you start to fiddle in the lock. The correct lockpick will be the one, moving the slowest. As you fiddle, you’ll see the lockpick getting darker. That’s the place you’ll want to fiddle most. Once the pick holds, the lock morphs into a dial and you have to guess which way to turn it. If you turn it the wrong way the pick will break and you’ll have to start all over again. Traps is a bit more simple – you have 3 bars you have to unlock on the left ad you have to fiddle with the various switches to do so. It is trial and error and not very complex.

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An important part of any RPG is saving, right? Well, there’s a catch. You first have to FEED the gargoyle in the inventory screen using money or various items (at horrendously low conversion rate). Yep, saving is pay-per-view… I mean pay-per-save ONLY. Death is also final unless you have enough cash to buy yourself out of it. If you do, then you reappear on the same spot temporarily invincible. So it’s a difficult choice between saving your progress or having enough cash left over for that possible accident.

Well, up until this point everything sounds just peachy, right? Well, it’s not. Tower of Souls has the most complex and horrible interface I’ve ever seen on an iPhone game. If you ever decide to play it, make sure to read the help section completely and thoroughly (indicated by the red “i” button) – this will at least get you started on the interface. Enough to say I have literally spent more than 5 hours on the game trying to find a way to save. The different sections have very little descriptions, and a lot of the items and hot spots have none at all. I had to quit the game once simply because I could not find how to close the alchemy screen. The developers obviously never heard of intuitive interfaces.

review-tower-of-souls-fightAt the game screen the amount of duplicated buttons gets to be really confusing. All of the magic section buttons (obviously placed near the magic book) are duplicated on the bar on the left. Also there are two buttons, which turn to be “select” and “action” buttons (think of the left and right mouse buttons) and the next/previous spell buttons. The bottom quickbar is zoomed under the cursor, which serves to ease navigation but often adds to the confusion on where to tap to do the thing you want. The level area is tap-to-move and double-tap-to-cast-magic. Unfortunately the taps are often confused with double taps and you end up either wasting magic or not casting it at the enemy when required. And all of this is just the tip of the iceberg.

To sum it all up, Tower of Souls could really be a great RPG, the one that a lot of the iPhone owners crave for. Unfortunately, the controls (which appears to be directly ported from the Pocket PC version) completely screw up the game. The content seems to be there but ultimately, Tower of Souls ends up being completely unplayable and a waste of money. I really hope the developers will address this in their future updates and give us an opportunity to fully enjoy the game. Until such happy times I would recommend to steer away from this RPG. Unless you’re a masochist of course.

With this I declare Tower of Souls officially touched.

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App Summary
Title:Tower of Souls RPG (v.1.1)Developer:Parys Technografx Ltd
Price:$1.99App Size:4.4 MB
  • Solid RPG content
  • Massive areas to explore
  • Horrible and unplayable interface
  • Pay-per-save system

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