App Reviewed on: iPhone XR
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Game Stew is one of the most consistent mobile developers out there. Ever since their debut release of Tower of Fortune back in 2012, they've been cranking out stylized pixel art titles with off-beat structures and rpg mechanics, some of which are more successful than others. Tower of Fortune 4 is their latest release, which continues to build off of the successful blend of dungeon-crawling, turn-based combat, and slot machine mechanics of their first game in ways that are only subtly surprising.
Slots with a sidekick
Tower of Fortune 4 follows the adventures of a brave warrior and a small girl that he is escorting to the top of a holy mountain. The journey is long and treacherous, with tons of different locales and enemies standing in their way, but with some team work (and luck), you can get them there safely.
Each locale is separated into its own dungeon that your warrior wanders through on his own while carrying the girl on his shoulders. Whenever you reach a point of interest or a fight, there's a scene transition, and--more than likely--three slot spinners appear at the bottom of your screen. Your goal in these moments is to stop the slots on desired icons (attacks, valuable jewels, shields, etc.) while trying to avoid undesirable icons (enemy attacks, action failure icons, etc.). Depending on the situation you're in and the dynamic of the encounter, you may also have to employ different strategies to overcome these obstacles without being defeated.
Reroll with riches
In Tower of Fortune 4, it's really easy for things to go south quickly. It doesn't take long to get to areas where one false spin of the slot machine can kill you. To help you avoid disastrous rolls, you can spend money you've earned across your adventures to undo the spin and try again. This is very much a risk/reward system though, as each consecutive undo costs more and more of your hard-earned coin.
Money isn't the only thing you accrue to help you on your journey, though. Enemies and chests can also drop equippable gear, ore for upgrading said gear, ingredients for cooking consumable food items (which confer bonuses), and experience, which can help make your hero and tiny companion more capable of withstanding tougher enemies. With time, you can amass quite a collection of supports that can help you brute force your way through levels if need-be, though a big part of the fun in Tower of Fortune 4 comes from the momentum of discovering where this journey takes you.
Exploitable, but not easy
Playing a slot machine to fight battles and procure loot sounds like a way to make all of your agency in a game feel random. Unlike a true slot machine though, Tower of Fortune 4's spinners are predictable and exploitable (provided you have the patience for learning this system). The timing is tight on the quick spinners, but if you can dial-in a mental count or identify the icon patterns that telegraph your desired icon, you can basically choose your actions at will so long as your reflexes are sharp.
Being on point with your taps is its own form of challenge, and that becomes doubly true when later levels turn certain interactions on their head in fun ways. Tower of Fortune 4 may not have much of an explicit story, but the different places you visit and creatures you encounter are able to do some surprisingly effective visual and mechanical storytelling, even as no words are exchanged between characters. That is to say I'll refrain from giving specific examples on how the gameplay twists and turns, but will say that some of them force you to have to re-train your brain to exploit the spinner in different ways.
The bottom line
Tower of Fortune 4 hides a lot beneath its surface. What appears to simply be a simple game of chance with rpg hooks is actually a strategic adventure that asks you for quick reflexes and flexibility. Even when making all the right moves, Tower of Fortune 4 has a high skill ceiling that rewards you in kind for executing flawlessly. For these reasons, I don't see Tower of Fortune 4 leaving my phone until I unlock additional endings, build out my cache of loot, and fully master my slot skills.