I’ve played through Final Fantasy VII at least ten times since its release in 1997. Unfortunately, no matter how much you love making the journey beyond Midgar, the trip gets harder every year. The clunky controls, abstract graphics, and “active” time battles have not held up over the years, leaving fans with a nostalgic fondness for a game they can no longer enjoy. The creators of The Black Tower share that nostalgia, but acknowledge it’s 2013 with their “neo-retro” homage to one of Square’s finest, and PS1 RPGs in general.
The Black Tower is also loosely inspired by A Space Adventure: a novel, short film, and adventure game by director Simon Mesnard. The story takes place in a universe managed by a mysterious spaceship known as The Ark, whose one mission is to locate planets on the verge of death. The Ark sends out black Cubes to these planets in order to gather all of their memories and knowledge before they are lost forever. The hero of The Black Tower, Yan Forté, is the son of an astronaut who suddenly vanished after discovering one of these Cubes 21 years ago. Having lost his father to the mysteries of space, Yan has chosen to live out his days in the forest, forgoing technology and surviving off the land. He lives a fairly carefree life until a girl named Ellana falls from the sky, wearing a small black Cube necklace, and changes the course of Yan’s destiny.
Many of the experiences players can look forward to in The Black Tower will come as no surprise to JRPG fans: Yan, Ellana, and four other companions will travel the vast world of Terra, initially spurred on by aggression from a group of forest-hating pirates, but eventually with much greater consequences at stake. Dungeons will be filled with random encounters, towns with conversational NPCs, and the world map with lots of exploration on foot or by vehicle. Gorgeous, pre-rendered backgrounds and a wide variety of fixed camera angles show off a world that is reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII but still very much its own.
While the “retro” portion is easily recognized, the “neo” modernization is even more exciting. Random encounters will be balanced out by sections with enemies visible onscreen, and a potential “Danger Gauge” that will help avoid encounters when you need a break from fighting. Battles themselves will utilize your entire party, with each character assigned to a role as either an “attacker” or “supporter,” with the former focusing on slaying enemies and the latter helping with healing spells, stealing items, and other important—but often wasted on a turn—tasks. Attackers will be able to equip and choose from both long and short range weapons simultaneously, allowing for more variety in battle and focus on tactics. The pre-rendered backgrounds, while reminiscent of the PS1 era, will have the high definition and detail of later generations.
All of these, coupled with the obvious love for and knowledge of past RPGs its creators share, add up to a potentially amazing experience that is only possible if The Black Tower meets its crowdfunding goal. For the sake of everyone still trying to find their way out of Costa del Sol with only a blurry white glove, we sincerely hope it reaches this target, and soon.
Indiegogo Picks is a series on Gamezebo that profiles Indiegogo projects in the world of video games. We’re doing this in the hopes of calling attention to interesting projects in need of funding, so please, if a game looks like something you’d want to play, don’t hesitate to lend it your support!