Personally I’m a big supporter of new titles in the gaming industry. We have far too many yearly sequels and spinoffs overrunning the market, so whenever I see a totally new creation I’m always optimistic. When I started playing Toren, I was greeted with a magical, vibrant, and interesting title, but will the magic last?
Toren is the first game from the Brazil based indie developer SwordTales and it tells the story of a young girl aptly named ‘Moonchild’. You take control of Moonchild as she grows in age, size, and skill in order to fight the dragon and escape the tower in which she in imprisoned. In order to do this you will traverse various obstacles and challenges to collect the tools you’ll need for the final battle. As you do this you will witness first hand Moonchild progress from a child into a fully-grown adult. The idea is novel and does create a sense of attachment to the character. On the other hand, the progression seems to happen much too fast and this seems less like growing up and more like a mystical change, which may be intentional but I found it jarring.
The gameplay consists of mostly puzzle-solving and a very small amount of combat. You’ll spend nearly all of the game climbing up the tower while solving any puzzles that may hinder your advancement. The puzzles are nothing challenging or memorable, but you are given more insight into the story as you solve them, so there is some amount of motivation for progressing. One of the game’s recurring puzzle mechanics is both my favourite and most hated part of the game. The puzzle involves the player pouring out salt to match symbols on the ground. The idea itself is interesting, but when mixed with the bad controls it is guaranteed to cause irritation that should be saved for only the deepest part of hell.
The biggest challenge you will encounter in the game is movement itself. With loads of collision glitches and bugs, I found myself stuck in walls, foliage, and other parts of the geography more times than I can remember. The controls are floaty and clunky to say the least. I found myself sliding around nearly every time I climbed over any object. The camera often changes positions right when you’d least want it to, leading to many unwarranted deaths. The game has been patched since release, but I can’t contest if any of the issues have been fixed.
Visually the game is stylish and holds a fantastic art style and design. The lighting, vibrant colours, and use of trees, flowers, and general foliage really makes for a game that pleases the eye. While some blurry textures and blocky modelling can detract from the rest of the game, overall it’s a welcome change to the dull grey of most modern games.
The soundtrack matches with the visuals; a somewhat basic score that keeps a simple, yet fitting tone to the overall game. Nothing worth writing home about, but it certainly doesn’t damage in any way. The same can be said for the rest of the sound design: all fairly run-of-the-mill, but does what it’s supposed to and doesn’t take away from the rest of the experience.
Overall, Toren is a game that tries to deliver something different, something visually artistic but is held back by its technical short comings. Framerate issues, collision problems, and control hiccups tarnish what is an otherwise interesting new title. If you’re looking for something new, colourful and short, then give Toren a whirl. Otherwise, wait for a price drop.