The gaming industry is mainly made up of large developers and publishers situated mainly in Europe or the US. Thousands of titles have been released in recent years, and most of them have a particular, “western” vibe. The majority of titles feature a gun within them, and if not they are some platformer with jumps aplenty. Toren, while not being a huge blockbuster hit, serves as a pretty, while short, break from all this.
Toren, developed by Brazilian studio Swordtales, tells the story of Moonchild, a girl chosen by fate or whatever force commands the game’s lore, to save mankind. This arduous task can be done by climbing the tower Toren. The game is basically a platformer, and while it does not stand out in the gameplay department, it makes a name for itself thanks to the gorgeous visuals which embrace the game all the way from start to finish. And the start really is a start, since your character, Moonchild, starts from a very tender age in the beginning of the game, and thus the journey through the tower could also replicate metaphorically the journey through a girl’s childhood and becoming a woman. Toren, the tower which gives its name to the game, was a creation of the oftentimes greedy human being, who in order to achieve greater power tried to surpass the heavens, but all this backfired. It is up to Moonchild thus to save her civilisation.
While Toren has elements of beauty at times, it certainly does not live up to the potential it had. The game is a 3d platformer depending heavily on a series of puzzles rather than combat itself, which should not be a bad thing on its own. The problem of these puzzles is that, even though they introduce new mechanics which change the approach to the puzzles, these mechanics are sometimes overused, and thus the novelty quickly wears off. The puzzles do not necessarily become boring but an intelligent way of dealing with these sections has almost been wasted due to the repetition. Combat also makes its appearances although less than puzzles, and while it looks quite good, it fails to make itself “impactful”; you don’t almost realise you are hitting the enemies until you see them die.
The camera is also a little frustrating at times, and affects as well the experience of the game. This is because Toren lacks a full 360 degree camera, which means you cannot see entirely what is around Moonchild. This may hinder progression because of it hiding areas where you need to explore or spinning away from you when you least expect it. These do not happen that often to ruin the game, but they do have their negative impacts. Thankfully though, the camera can also set up incredible scenery which almost look like postcards, or photoshopped edits of a sunset, as Moonchild marches onwards on the foreground. These set pieces are incredibly beautiful, and an access to a 360 camera would definitely limit the possibility of recreating these images as gorgeous as Swordtales does.
If the gameplay is flawed, the storytelling is excellent. A mix of narration and poems coupled with the overall story of the game is very well mixed together, and its outcome is a work of beauty. The graphic style of the game goes exceptionally well with everything happening on your screen, be it the gameplay, the narration or the music, which is tremendous. The colours of the game are vivid and bring the game to life, while an almost hand painted style covers the main features of the environment of the game as well as the girl herself. The game also has very pretty details such as the cracks in the rocks, but one really needs to stop every so often and admire these features to become aware of them. As described before, the musical aspect of the game is great and really accompanies the adventure of Moonchild strongly.
Toren can be called a blunt diamond in the rough, since although it does have ridiculously stunning visuals and set pieces, it fails to deliver in the gameplay departments. It is also quite short, but gives good value for money since it is not priced as steep as other titles. If one sees past the problems though, the game is definitely worth the time, however short that may be.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.