Game Info:

Excave III: Tower of Destiny
Developed by: Mechanic Arms
Published by: Bergsala Lightweight
Release date: April 14, 2016
Available on: 3DS
Genre: Dungeon Crawler
Number of Players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: E
Price: 7.99

Thank you Bergsala Lightweight for sending us a review code.

The 3DS eShop sees a lot of role-playing games these days. Nearly each week a new one seems to arrive. Excave III: Tower of Destiny is the last in the Excave series, and it's a bit of a step back from the previous installments.

No longer is there a choice between a male or a female protagonist. Instead, we are introduced to Scarlett, dressed in a rather revealing red outfit. Gone are the quests, and with it, an overall story. Scarlett sets out to clear five towers of monsters and return to sell all the loot from them. There's no grand underlying tale of heroism to be found here. Only a high score system. Every item has a value and at the end of each tower your inventory is added together and a ranking is assigned. Naturally, the higher the score, the better the ranking.

As any dungeon crawler goes, Scarlett must navigate labyrinth-like corridors to find a way to the next floor. Progression is hindered by hordes of monsters and barriers that require a switch to be pressed to access warps or treasure chests. Scarlett can now wield any weapon from the series, making the gender specific weapon system from previous games obsolete. Progressing to the top of the towers results in a boss fight that usually ends quicker than one would like. You get a stone that usually has some value and you move on to the next.

Excave III: Tower of Destiny

Strong Points: Plenty of weapon variety; Great music; The graphics are nicely detailed; Online leaderboards and the Fantasy Tower.
Weak Points: Short main story mode; Lack of returning features like quests and item retention; gameplay can become stale after long play sessions.
Moral Warnings: Monsters are expected to be killed; Scarlett's design; Occult-like symbols shown when using certain spells 

The inventory screen is shared by everything you pick up, and you eventually will run out of room. On its own, this isn't an issue. You can just drop things and move on. In cases when a rare item drops, and you are struggling to get rid of an item to open space up, that item might despawn. This happened way more than it should have and I have to blame the high score mechanic. It stopped being about becoming stronger to being about how much value did an item have over another.  

Since you sell all the items you find, Scarlett never retains weapons or spells. Sacrificing item retention for a high score system didn't sit well with me. I'd become accustomed to growing stronger through my weapons from the prior games, so that this new mechanic came off as cheap and unnecessary. Though, it does open the doors to those that like the challenge of item management and obtaining the highest ranking for your high score.

The towers naturally get longer and more difficult as you clear them. After completing the fifth and final tower, the game just returns you to the tower select screen, no cutscene or text saying you accomplished anything. This was off putting to say the least. Completing the game took less than two hours, and I was ready to write this off as a bad sequel. But there indeed was more to the game than I expected.

Excave III: Tower of Destiny
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 80%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 80%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 7/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

After the third tower is completed the Fantasy Tower unlocks. This seems to be what the developers were hoping would extend the length of the game. The Fantasy Tower is an endless dungeon crawl which records the highest floor you got to upon death, and let's you share it on an online leaderboard. Naturally, the tower is quite daunting and you won't get very high the first time in. By obtaining Titles, essentially achievements for doing certain things, new items are unlocked for the player to grab from a chest. This is dependant on which floor it was unlocked for. In return, this makes each successive play through easier to get higher and higher in both the tower and the leaderboards.

One of the best features one can use right from the beginning is the Music Box. This contains all of the music tracks, sound effects, and even Scarlett's Japanese dialogue to listen to. The Music Box was actually the first thing I pressed  on the main menu when I started the game, and I instantly liked the music.

As moral warnings go, this is a dungeon crawler and that means there's lots of monsters to kill. Monsters just disappear when they die so blood isn't an issue here. The use of spells and the drawing of symbols on the ground may stir up fears of the occult. This reviewer takes no issue with these things as they aren't explicit in their execution. I do, however, wonder why Scarlett had to have so much cleavage exposed and why she had to jiggle at the tower completion screen every time. All things aside this isn't meant for kids and a Teen rating should have been assigned rather than an E for Everyone.

Excave 3 is a short game with a large online crowd all clamoring to be number one on the leaderboards. I enjoyed my time with the game, though I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the structure introduced in the previous Excave game. The lack of a town to sell loot and buy gear and spells was missed exponentially. Even with all the faults, the game is charming in its own way and is a worthwhile game to experience.



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