I really want to like you, but you make it so difficult.
I had never heard of Toren when I was asked to review it. Of course, many who read my reviews know that I will give practically anything a shot. So I had no idea what I was getting into when booting up the game for the first time. What I got was a very interesting, pretty, and very flawed experience full of mystery and player interpretation.
Toren revolves around a girl/woman named Moonchild. She is trapped inside a giant tower along with a deadly dragon. The only way for her to escape is by defeating said dragon. The only way to do that is to gather the necessary equipment for the job, and to grow as a person both physically and mentally. This is why throughout the course of the game Moonchild will grow to be an adult. In fact, within a matter of minutes she will go from stumbling around as a toddler to swinging a sword as a teenager.
Platorms: PS4, PC
Price I’d pay: $4
Puzzle game at heart.
For all intents and proposes, Toren is a puzzle game. The action is few and far between and when combat does occur, it is very simplistic. The main gameplay revolves around navigating Moonchild up the tower and solving simple puzzles as she makes her way to encounter the dragon. The story is then told through both flashbacks and simple narration after solving puzzles.
That’s really it. The entire experience will last maybe three and a half hours at best, and in that time, players will run into many things that will both confuse and frustrate them. The story is told through many metaphors and symbolism, and the actual gameplay is littered with bugs and glitches that make it feel like the first time developers, Swordtales, needed to work on the game for a few more months. Things like collision detection, falling through floors, and getting stuck on the environments will hinder the player on many occasions, even with the game being so short.
The jumping is very floaty, and numerous times I found myself falling to my death due to their “dynamic” camera angles and off-putting jumping mechanics. Let me not forget the most annoying reoccurring thing in the game – the salt puzzles, where Moonchild must pour a salt outline on a symbol on the ground when the camera is constantly changing and the movement is floaty on its good days. Try doing this in the dark with the only light source being lighting strikes that flash for only a second. I actually had to go into my recorded gameplay using the PS4 and pause it during the lightening strike to see it.
Man, so much broken.
While mechanically the game is a bit of a mess, the presentation, look, and design of Toren is pretty beautiful. The lighting effects are well done and the art style really pops and makes the whole game look fantastic. That, along with a very simplistic yet powerful soundtrack makes the presentation the stand out of the entire package. Unfortunately, the game also suffers a bit from screen tearing as well as frame rate issues.
Toren is a game that has its heart in the right place, but doesn’t execute it very well at all. For $9.99, players will get a very interesting title that tells an interesting story if players allow it to sweep them up into it. The issue is that the actual game is holding players back from getting into it. There were so many times I really got into the scene and the puzzles, but every time there was something that took me right out of that great experience. The game is beautiful in many aspects, but with multiple glitches, slightly broken mechanics, short play time ,and performance issues, it is hard for me to say pick it up at full price. In fact, I would say give this game a shot once it goes on sale. Until then, hold off on this rather unique title.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.