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Tomb of Tyrants (PC) artwork

Tomb of Tyrants (PC) review


"A genre-mixing sucess"


Tomb of Tyrants is a fantastic game, which looks deceptively simple at first, but hides an incredible amount of strategy and depth. It’s a combination of match-4 and tower defense, with RPG rogue-like elements (unlocks and progressive upgrades of items and levels) and quite a bit of strategy involved. The learning curve can feel a little steep on first approach, but once you understand what you are doing you will find yourself playing this game again and again, and enjoying the hell out of it.

Your main goal is to defend your Tyrant, who dwells in the bottom floor of your dungeon. You do so by building floors, which are populated by different creatures that will fight off the heroes trying to reach and kill your Tyrant.

To build the floors you need resources, which you gather by matching tiles (4 or more). If you create a match in one of the special shapes listed around the tile pool (rituals), your capacity for that specific resource will increase. The last update has added some special tiles (dirt and wildcards) which require special conditions to be eliminated, increasing the challenge. To be able to build the floors you also need a number of empty rows in your resource pool. You can queue floors to be built as soon as you have enough resources and space.

Occasionally, special items will appear in the resource pool. When you match them, they will transfer to your item pool. Some of these items provide passive bonuses, some others can be activated to various effects (e.g. healing your minions, or gathering a particular resource). If the item is already in your pool, it will level up.

Special tasks can be fulfilled to unlock new items, minions and floors (prophecies) or to upgrade existing floors (plots). These appear at the top of the screen, and can take many forms: from doing a certain number of matches, to not spending a particular resource for a set period of time, to killing a number of heroes, levelling up some of your minions...
Plots generally have a time limit, and are easier to fulfil than prophecies.

Floors are progressively unlocked. There is a first set of paired, mutually exclusive floors (building one prevents you from building the other), which adds great replayability value (you can play with different combinations in subsequent playthroughs), but the higher level floors are unlocked independently, through prophecies.

Special minions can be dropped at any dungeon floor (e.g. to protect your Tyrant), and after they reach a certain level they are also carried over to subsequent playthroughs. At any point, you can right click on things to bring up the codex, which explains in detail what that floor/item/minion does (this is something I strongly encourage you to do!). There is also a brief tutorial, that explains action on the fly the first time you carry them out.

This is a veritable gem of a game, especially for the price. I am very surprised that it is not a best-seller. If you like any of the genres it covers, you should definitely give it a try!


Pros

  • Developer - in a time when bad, unfinished products and perpetual early-access games are becoming the norm, it's so refreshing to find a developer who really cares about his game and its players! He regularly responds to comments, listens to feedback and releases regular, stable updates (the latest large update was released after a long opt-in beta period in which players provided direct feedback, resulting in several major improvements).

  • Replayability - individual games last from several minutes to 1-2 hours (once you get good at surviving!), allowing for fairly casual gameplay, but you will find yourself coming back to this game again and again, and it always feels like it has something new to offer, as there is a vast amount of content to unlock, and you can try several strategies. I have played the game for ~18 hours at this point, and I feel like only now I'm beginning to scratch the surface.

  • Art style - beautiful, colourful pixel art that is also intuitive.

  • Customization - you can change the colour palette, pixel style, UI border size... and don't forget to check out the banners, which are unlockable, and provide different bonuses.

  • Multi-platform - you can play on Windows, Linux and MacOS, and it even has controller support! It is also a very small download.


    Cons

  • Learning curve - it can feel a little steep at the beginning. You might be deceived by the simple looks, skip the tutorial and then get overwhemed when you get a glimpse of the underlying complexity. If this happens don't give up: re-activate the tutorial, and look things up in the codex. You won't regret giving the game a second chance.

  • Resolution - the resolution options are currently a bit limited, but I believe that this will be tackled, eventually. --- *UPDATE* (08/06/2016) There is now an advanced options file (ToTAdvanced) that allows you to set a custom resolution - some common sense is advised!

  • Red alert - when the heroes reach the levels above your Tyrant, an alarm starts playing (you can turn it off completely, but I don't recommend it) so you can take actions to help the Tyrant survive the assault. In the late game, when the Tyrant is constantly under threat, I find the constant blaring a little annoying. This is personal preference, though.
    5/5

    OgNimaeb's avatar
    Community review by OgNimaeb (June 12, 2016)

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    If you enjoyed this Tomb of Tyrants review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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    Zydrate posted June 12, 2016:

    This review actually got me to plug this on my wishlist.
    Often, I will automatically press "Not interested" when I see pixellated styles since pixel style is below my usual graphical preference. I do make the occasional exception, it also helps when I look up a Let's Play video and it looks interesting.

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