Restoration Games just released the Kickstarter for the epic-in-scope Return to Dark Tower, developed by powerhouse game designers Rob Daviau (Cthulhu: Death May Die, among many others) and Isaac Childres (Gloomhaven). Based on the original Dark Tower board game first released in 1981 by the Milton Bradley Company, Return to Dark Tower is an app-assisted, cooperative adventure game that tasks one to four players with gaining entrance to the dreaded Dark Tower and destroying the evil residing inside.
That tower, itself, is the central piece of this game. Standing tall at 300mm in the middle of the board, the titular Dark Tower is mechanical. It spins, rotates, and lights up symbols and runes as it releases deadly skulls onto the board. These skulls, representing corruption from the tower, are dropped out like a dice tower and must be placed on buildings in various areas on the board, making those buildings less handy, and even, at times, destroying them.
The game consists of players taking control of "a unique hero with their own starting inventory and special abilities" the Kickstarter page explains. "Along the way you gain helpful items, powerful virtues, and trusty companions to help you achieve your goal: Find a way into the Tower and defeat a powerful adversary."
Players each start their hero in a starting realm, which gives them a specific boon to start. Then as they traverse, they must deal with the complications thrown at them by the game (via the app), manage the corruption their buildings suffer, and follow the advice of an ally who will show them the way into the Dark Tower. Once they complete the quest to enter the tower, a second phase begins, where they have to face off against a villain (and there are several different villains in the game) who calls the Dark Tower home.
An early draft of the full rulebook is currently available for download, and numerous playthroughs of the game will post over the campaign and the release of the game itself.
The game, after just a few days live, has already smashed past it's $850k goal, and is over $2MM and climbing. Some stretch goals have been announced, including new villains and new allies, but there's more to come. The game is available in two pledges (apart from retailer pledges), the core game and all stretch goals goes for $125, and the core game, all stretch goals, and various expansions and add-ons (including, it seems, two new heroes), goes for $225.
Even among the writers and editors here at TR, there's a lot of debate about app-based gameplay. I've been truly loving Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth and its clever, well-planned execution of an app-assistance system. From what I've seen of Dark Tower, it seems like they, too, are taking a thoughtful approach. I may be persnickety about plenty of things when it comes to tabletop gaming and tech (character sheets in RPGs should never be digital, always pencil and paper), when app-assistance is done right, it can turn a game from a slog to a joy, and I hope that's what's going on here.
What do you think of the Dark Tower Kickstarter? Will you be backing it? What do you think of app-based games in general? Let us know in the comments below.