Tower Of The Sage (TOTS) is a deck building rogue-like game that borrows ideas from Slay the Spire and has combat that looks a bit like Darkest Dungeon. There are a pair of starting character types, and they come with their own abilities and upgrades during a play through. A play through is a path that is completed on each of three maps, with the final boss encounter on each map being hard. There are opportunities for rest, picking up treasure, and a few random events which can be positive, neutral, or detrimental. The combat is fairly simple to start, but as cards and abilities along with unique items are gained, it gets more and more complex.
TOTS has a few graphics settings for things like the screen resolution and textures, but nothing that really changes the look of the game in a major way. Strangely, TOTS seems to activate Steam VR looking for an HMD for some reason. There is background music, which as usual, is something to turn down to a minimal level. Although there are some sound effects, there are not many. In fact, the game is fairly quiet with no background music. This is a problem with some actions, like button clicking. There is no positive feedback that a button was clicked during combat. Because of this it possible that a player might click twice thinking it was not registered. Due to a bug, this will not only end the current turn, it will also buffer and immediately end the following turn. Selecting cards is also glitchy becoming an almost schizophrenic select/deselect wrestling match to pick a card and play it. There is a no distinct save/load game, but progress is saved if the player exits and restarts the game. The existing run can be continued or dropped.
TOTS is pretty nicely rendered, looking like hand drawn artwork in a style similar to Darkest Dungeon. TOTS comes with two starting characters, a magic wielding type and a warrior. There is a greyed-out portrait for a class called a Hunter that is “coming soon”. The magic user starts with 75 health and 3 mana (for playing cards). The warrior starts with 90 health and also starts with 3 mana. The starting cards are unique for each class, but some are basically the same in effect. The acquired cards are a mix of unique and identical between the two characters. The progression for the magic user involves building up summoned minions and burn/poison effects, with some defensive cards. The progression for the warrior is based on using early rounds to build up armor (added as shielding at the end of every round), then go into rage mode to deal high amounts of damage. Most of the progression for any character is through spending XP on talents, which is easy to overlook between rounds. It is a good idea to visit the talents window as a matter of habit between rounds.
At this time, TOTS is in early access and the roughness shows. Completing the final boss caused some giant text to appear on the screen that couldn’t be read, probably a congratulations. Selection of cards during combat can be awkward. Double-clicking the end turn button will result in the current turn ending as well as the next turn, when it comes up. It’s likely all of this will be fixed in time. There ought to be more sound effects and action sounds, particularly with actions like clicking ‘end turn’ to give the player more feedback. There probably needs to be some tougher bosses and a bit of balancing with some of the cards. A rarity system would be a nice addition. The special items/artifacts acquired as rewards are surprisingly well balanced; only a few need some rethinking as being a little too powerful. Tower Of The Sage is a great game in the making, well worth the asking price now. With improvements and added length/complexity, it will be worth more in the future and is highly recommended.