Publisher: Versus Evil
Release Date: 5/11/2015
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I absolutely love short games that tell beautiful stories. A game that really doesn’t have much gameplay, but just enough to get the story and help you feel for the characters. Toren is one of those games, it has so much potential, but is extremely rough around the edges. There’s actually more negative than positive for this game, but for some reason, it’s worth a playthrough, simply for how the game is told and unfolds.
The game starts out pretty simple. You start as a baby girl who is waddling towards a sword. A pretty strong image in gaming when playing as a baby. It tends to be a sensitive subject, but Toren pulls it off just fine. After grabbing your sword you get segments of jumping puzzles and are faced with a dragon. This dragon sits in one spot and will shoot out waves of black that will freeze you. See the game is a little bit like Infinity Blade in a way. Failing is the only way to go forward (of course the failing bits are scripted). The girl will try to reach for something or solve something and the dragon will get her. She is reborn and thus can use her frozen body as a stepping stone or something to climb.
The whole point of the game is to climb this large tower called Toren to bring back the night. A dead man tells a story about a man named Solidor who tried the same thing and failed. It’s a little confusing in words and makes more sense in pictures and cutscenes. Between trying to fight off the dragon during, weak, puzzles, there are platforming segments that are set in strange dream-like areas that are just really great to look at. They aren’t tough, but this is where the flaws come in. The jumping mechanic is very floaty, there are a lot of collision detection issues, the sword fighting is barely waving your sword around aimlessly, and even controlling the girl can be a bit difficult as she feels like an ice cube walking around a frozen lake.
The visuals are even rough, while there are some nice lighting effects, the game has texture quality that is all over the place. The framerate is also everywhere, but anyone who enjoys the subtly of indie games will look past all this. The game can also be finished in one sitting; about 2 hours. While it lasted I enjoyed the game, it broke up the dragon fights with the platforming segments well, but the issues with the game make it more difficult than it needs to be.
With all that said, Toren is an interesting game with a beautiful story, but it is encased in a sloppy game with rough graphics and slippery controls.