Return to Dark Tower
Raising over $4m on Kickstarter in 2019 (placing it at number 21 of 30,000 campaigns in terms of money raised), Return to Dark Tower is an epic fantasy tabletop game pitting players against an intelligent, malevolent tower powered by custom hardware (and demonic energies).
Made in collaboration with Restoration Games and with game design lead by Rob Daviau (Pandemic Legacy) and Isaac Childres (Gloomhaven), Mother Ultimate was responsible for the design, development, and manufacture of the titular tower, as well as acting as production lead for the connected digital app.
Alongside traditional card-and-plastic boardgame components, Return to Dark Tower features a complex mechatronic tower consisting of rotating sections, lights, sounds, infrared triggers and removable components. The tower connects via Bluetooth to a rich and engaging digital app played on a smart device.
Return to Dark Tower was designed to be a benchmark for the types of gameplay experiences, playful interactions, and quality-of-life enhancements that are possible when combining digital and physical mediums. These included
A wonderful sense of the sublime caused by players never being completely sure of what'll happen next.
Novel, responsive ways of delivering narrative, player goals and context sensitive audio, leading to huge replayability.
Mechanics that change as the game progresses.
Unobtrusive techniques for directing player focus.
Dynamic processes for delivering tutorials.
Reducing cognitive load on players by keeping track of complex game states.
There’s an awful lot of new ground broken with this game.
Selected images © Scott King