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Towers & Dungeons

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Towering above the competition?

Product: Towers & Dungeons | Publisher: Ravensburger Digital | Format: iPhone | Genre: Simulation | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.1
Towers & Dungeons iPhone, thumbnail 1
This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about.

Towers & Dungeons is the latest freemium effort from Ravensburger Digital. A tower-builder with a cutesy edge (sans the pixel-art), its inspirations are clear from the off – it owes a lot to Tiny Tower.

But does it go beyond this starting point to provide a truly unique take on the tower-builder genre? Let's find out over the course of seven days.

First Impressions

I'm immediately struck by how detailed the world of Towers & Dungeons is. Even before building a single storey above or below the starting level, it's evident how much attention has been put into the environment and inhabitants.

The cartoon landscape stretching out behind your soon-to-be skyscraper, the blue skies, and the minions wandering about within your tower's walls are all full of detail and personality. It's a Saturday morning cartoon aesthetic: bright, cheerful, and vivid.

The audio is equally cartoony. As you add levels to your tower, and more minions flock to your keep, you'll hear them humming along as they get on with their day, and cheering when you complete a task for them.

Though the game takes its sweet time booting up, once you have it all runs pretty smoothly. A pleasantly uncluttered UI allows you quick access to everything from objectives (shown in the right-hand corner) to starting new tasks that in turn give you access to more resources.

All good buildings need materials to keep them running, and Towers & Dungeons is no different. There are construction materials, food supplies, and coins to be found, with this last resource being the shortest in supply in the initial stages.

Day 3: Dungeon keeper

Freemium games often get criticised for giving you nothing to do in each playing session except two minutes of collecting experience/resources/money and two minutes of starting up tasks to generate experience/resources/money.

As soon as you rejoin your game of Towers & Dungeons there's a new minion knocking at the door, looking for your help with something or other.

By the third day you'll have a few levels built up, and the guests outside will want to see the living quarters you've built, inspect rooms for pot plant maintenance, or enter on some other humorous pretext that becomes less and less funny over time.

There are only so many of these pretexts, and you'll hear them very, very frequently thanks to the rapid flow of the game. This can get really annoying.

Towers & Dungeons is a game in which you plan out how you want to expand, gather up resources by waiting a set time for them to become available, and then build another level on your tower. There's no inherent urgency to the gameplay, so the game inserts the artificial stimulant of frequent visits to keep you on your toes.

It leads to situations in which you'll be running low on resources because you've been too distracted by all the minions banging at your door to create any building blocks or food.

Occasionally the person at your gates will want to move into your place permanently – which is good, because you need workers for tasks – and sometimes it's a wizard who will finish a task immediately, but these welcome visitors are few and far between.

Day 7: Rooms to let

Right, I've got a real bee in my bonnet about this now. Whereas Tiny Tower confined its guests to the lobby, where they'd wait patiently until you called on them to keep you amused during periods of inactivity, in Towers & Dungeons they hammer on your door incessantly and noisily.

When you let them in to stop the infernal racket, you've only got half a minute to complete whatever ridiculous task they want doing.

You get resources for doing so, sure, but to get them you have to carry out tedious tasks like finding objects scattered about the tens of floors you may have by this point. If the visits were only half as frequent, Towers & Dungeons would be a much better game.

If you have the mental capacity to avoid said distractions, though, the game is pleasant enough. The humour has completely lost any value by this point, and I'm now playing with the sound off to block out their infernal witterings, but the core system of reaching the skies or burrowing deeper underground is completely solid.

There are social hooks, such as sending gifts to friends, though these don't seem essential to the experience. You can go through the game alone if you so choose.

The ability to build up or down isn't that interesting after the novelty wears off, but the compulsion to unlock more room types with each level you create definitely has a certain appeal, if just to see the stunning art that the game has to offer.

It's got a neat art-style, like Tiny Tower. It's compelling, like Tiny Tower. It keeps you (more than) busy, like Tiny Tower. But there's a key ingredient missing. Unlike Tiny Tower, Towers & Dungeons feels like hard work, and its charm consequently fades a lot faster.

There you have it, our thoughts on the game. But what do you think about it? Let us know your opinion on Towers & Dungeons in the comments below.
Towers & Dungeons
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 13 December 2012
A busier game than Tiny Tower, it's unfortunately a little worse off for it. An action packed and good-looking tower builder, this will delight freemium fans that want a little more to do out of every play session
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