Pandora’s Tower forces the player to race against the clock in order to collect flesh from enemies and bosses, in this game called “Masters”. If the clock runs out, Aeron’s love interest, Elena, will turn into a monster herself. In order to reverse the curse, Aeron must collect all twelve pieces of Master Flesh and feed them to Elena…
As the clock runs down, you’ll have to go into each tower with a plan. You can get through the first few towers without having to return to the observatory, but this won’t be the case for long. Getting stuck on a puzzle to long will force you to backtrack to restore Elena. Shortcuts can be opened up as you progress, but backtracking will still take up a large chunk of the gameplay. The main mechanic of Pandora’s Tower is the Oraclos Chain. The chain is used frequently in both combat and in navigation. You must aim the chain using the Wiimote pointer or right analog stick if you are using the classic controller. The Wiimote pointer is accurate enough, but the classic controller can be a hassle, especially when you need quick movements. The fixed camera is, by far, my biggest gripe of the game. The wide-shots are good at showing off the towers, but makes it easy to lose track of Aeron, especially in the heat of battle. You will also lose sight of Aeron if he happens to run behind rocks or other objects. More often than not, this results in Aeron getting a monster fist upside the head.
Speaking of taking damage, there are times where Aeron’s items break as a result of taking a nasty hit. In later towers, monsters deal out harder hits, and item breaks become more frequent. You can get broken items fixed at the observatory, but it can become a massive drain on your money. Even blocking can take a toll on your weapons; your best chances lie within well-timed dodges. Combat in Pandora’s Tower relies on strategy, which is a refreshing change from many other hack-and-slash games. Run in swinging blindly, and you’ll end up under the foot of a monster. You’ll have to combine attacks with the Oraclos Chain and your sword to stand a chance. Fights with Masters aren’t quite as exciting. Dodge a few attacks, open up their vulnerable spot, and rip it out using the chain. While the night and day mechanic effects certain parts of the towers, but not any of the Master battles, which feels like a missed opportunity.
The relationship between Aeron and Elena is a large theme of the game. The ending you receive is dependent on how good a relationship you have built between the two. The relationship can be enhanced by talking and giving gifts to Elena. Unfortunately, there is barely any chemistry between the two, so it is hard to get invested in the relationship.
The multiple endings of Pandora’s Tower one of the games highest points. Rather than building on one another, the each ending is completely different from one another, and they all have something to contribute to the story. Pandora’s Tower has a lot of good ideas going for it, but constant backtracking and camera issues hold the game back. The second half of the game opens up incredibly, and feels like what the game should have been the entire time. However, for all it’s shortcomings, Pandora’s Tower is a still a solid entry and worth checking out.
PN Review: Pandora’s Tower