The Elder Spy
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PC Gamer checked out the new Gacha RPG Tower of Fantasy:

Tower of Fantasy is a messy Genshin Impact with few ideas of its own

Tower of Fantasy is out today and it sure looks familiar.

The most charitable way I could describe Tower of Fantasy's relationship to Genshin Impact would be "inspired." It's so deeply inspired by Hoyoverse's anime character action game that it would be easy to shrug it off as one of the many mobile clones you see show up in ads trying to convince you they're where the real players are at. Its uncanny resemblance to Genshin is the hardest thing to get over in its opening hours, kind of like trying to get over how much Genshin felt like Breath of the Wild when it came out. But if you can grimace through it and restrain your cynicism, the MMO-like systems it introduces could be what sets it apart.

Tower of Fantasy copy-pastes a lot of Genshin's most impressive aspects as well as its most egregious. Let's take stock:

  • It's an open world game where the planet is under attack by monsters and they reside in camps strewn throughout the world.
  • Anime characters--who are, in this case, mostly Evangelion rejects--have to save said planet.
  • The aesthetic is both bright and fantastical, but also sci-fi and grim like the '90s anime, and Hoyoverse's other action game, Honkai Impact 3rd.
  • It's a gacha game where you grind resources and dailies like it's your job or pay real money to get a chance at earning one of its characters.
  • Even when you get one of those characters, who are linked to their unique weapons, you need to level them up equal to your current progression in the game.

Tower of Fantasy ultimately uses Genshin as a lure to get you into its world and systems. Gacha games mimic the most familiar parts of other games for a reason: they want you in as fast as possible so that there's a chance you might spend some money. Tower of Fantasy is as guilty as any other game with systems built to exploit your desire to make playing it easier. But it also suggests it might add compelling layers on top of the framework of Genshin, like how other players can seamlessly phase into your world and fight by your side or how you can equip temporary tools (each categorized like MMO archetypes) like a mech suit to deal huge amounts of damage. Genshin always flirted with MMO-like ideas, so if Tower of Fantasy successfully incorporates enough parts of that genre, it could be a worthy counter to Hoyoverse's mostly lonely world.

For much of its opening hours, Tower of Fantasy is a messy game that doesn't have a clear vision for what makes it distinct from all the other options out there. It chose Genshin as the template, which, as far as templates go, isn't a bad choice. It successfully made me want to poke around its world and knock around its dinky enemies. I can't really say no to any of that, I just wish it spent a little less time assuring me it's like the thing I've played before and more time convincing me on the things that make it unique.
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