In the beginning there was Dungeon And Dragons. The original rules were packaged in a handy, simple booklet that imparted all the necessary guidelines needed for a few imaginative (pre)adolescents to get together around a table, throw innumerable oddly shaped dice and consult multitudes of seemingly esoteric tables based on the results of the dice throwing. To help in the imagination stakes, the gamers would invariably buy themselves little metal figures, paint them up, and then project the alter ego of their role playing character on to said metal figure.
The idea was a raging success, albeit cultishly at first, and the game soon expanded into Advanced Dungeons And Dragons which required the minimum of three books - The Dungeon Master's Guide, The Player's Handbook, and The Monster Manual. Despite this expansion in scope imagination, the game stayed intrinsically the same. Players found that when they had become proficient at the rules, the most important element in making the game enjoyable was the plot driving the action.
Many Dungeon Masters just didn't catch on to this fundamental premise for making their scenarios fun. Instead, they preferred to labour over the mechanics of the rules and inflict tedious dice rolling on players to accomplish the most mundane actions such as opening locked chests and finding secret doors. As such, only about 10 per cent of campaigns and dungeons were worth playing. The rest were, quite frankly, crap in the extreme and against the grain and spirit of the role playing genre. So why I am telling you all of this? Well, put simply, Tower Of Souls captures the essence of everything that was wrong with, and still is wrong with, role playing games in general and role playing computer games specifically.
To make any headway in the game you have to repeatedly and mechanically search and check just about every piece of dungeon or tower furnishing that you see on-screen. It leaves you feeling completely detached from the plot which, in this instance, is probably a good thing because Tower Of Souls is, to be brutality honest, the most tediously cliched tale of wretchedness I've ever had the misfortune to read.
It's like the progeny of an Edward Lear poem and a Tolkien-esque tale that's had nonsense added to the fantasy and fantasy extracted from the nonsense As such, you don't so much end up being bored with the game, as end up hating it. And that's a damning indictment of a game that otherwise is technically accomplished. Dust like those tedious old Dungeon Masters eh?
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