The term “flesh eating” summons up images of hordes of zombies, or maybe antibiotics resistant necrotic wounds. But though neither of these things are present in Pandora’s Tower there sure is a lot of flesh eating going on.
Pandora’s Tower focuses on a young girl, named Elena, who has fallen foul of a curse which is slowly turning her into a hideous beast. The protagonist is Aeron, a friend who has smuggled her away from the eye of the public and local army in the hope that he can find a cure for her curse. Assisted by Mavda - an old lady who looks nothing short of a character from the 1986 Jim Henson film Labyrinth, complete with weird looking being strapped to her back - Aeron takes Elena to an abandoned outpost that overlooks the Thirteen Towers. Mavda informs Aeron that the only way to save the poor damsel from this curse is to feed her the flesh from the monsters that lurk in these towers. Flesh from the common beasts found on floors leading to the top of each tower will only halt the transformation for a short time, whereas ‘Master Flesh’ from boss beasts, located at the top of each tower, acts as a cure.
A gauge in the corner of the screen measures Elena’s transformation. This forces a decision - take the flesh so far collected back to her, and prolong the eventual change, or push on and attempt to acquire Master Flesh. This is the only real edge to a game that would otherwise be washed away in a sea of play-a-likes.
Unfortunately, many of the towers only differ ever so slightly in their appearance and layout, which lends a sense of rinse and repeat to the game. Pandora’s Tower could have easily contained only five or six towers to complete instead of 13, and boredom wouldn’t have set in, but it would have been a terribly short game.
As an action RPG, Pandora’s Tower breaks no boundaries and does nothing revolutionary. In fact, it’s quite repetitive. The graphics are reminiscent of Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii and it leeches elements from the likes of Zelda and Castlevania with the main weapon, the Oraclos Chain. Although the chain is useful there’s nothing here gamers haven’t seen or played before. Along with the ability to lasso beasts, chain them together or throw them across a room, the chain is used to tear a chunk of flesh from a beast after defeating it. This is the key to avoiding to avoid the dread words every gamer fears: Game Over.
Like every good RPG, there are chests and items to be found throughout the towers. There is one thing that differs from the norm: some of these items are gifts for Elena. The more time spent talking with her and the more gifts she receives, the better the bond becomes between the pair. At first, the bonding doesn’t seem to add much, however there are multiple endings available and they depend on the nature of Aeron and Elena's relationship. Still, the story shows that they have known each other for quite some time.
The creatures that are encountered during the course of this adventure are somewhat varied. Monsters brandishing weapons can be disarmed with the Oraclos Chain, but they do attempt to retrieve them. It takes some trial and error to locate the weakness of each Master Beast, but once done, defeating them all depends on skill with the Chain.
Borrowing from Monster Hunter Tri again, Pandora’s Tower does offer players two control types - the Wii Remote/Nunchuck combination or the Classic Controller or Classic Pro. The Classic Controller configuration removes physical action from the game when it comes to ripping flesh from beasts with the Wii Remote. The game makes great use of the buttons on the Wii Remote and Nunchuck, it’s one of the highlights of the Pandora’s Tower experience.
By contrast, one of the biggest disappointments in Pandora’s Tower is the voice acting. It may have sounded great in its original Japanese, but the English accents do the game no justice at all, and neither does the translation. Elena insists on questioning why she must eat the monster flesh almost every time she is handed some. It seems like it’s the first time over and over again and can get very annoying. The lead character Aeron doesn’t speak all of the time, even though text is displayed on the screen. It’s almost like the voice actor could only make it to half of the recording sessions.
Pandora's Tower doesn't offer anything appealing or unique, and is not a Wii title that will find a home with many gamers.