Toren
Gameplay 7
Graphics 7
Sound 9

Toren is an ambitious and enjoyable debut title from Swordtales that will appeal to fans of the genre. The visuals lack polish in certain areas and the controls can be clunky, but ascending the tower and exploring the surreal dreams of the protagonist is quite a memorable experience. It is also a game that doesn’t hold your hand or spell out everything for you, so be prepared to unravel its mysteries and metaphors on your own.

Gameplay: There is not as much action as we expected, but there are still plenty of unique areas to explore and puzzles to solve.

Graphics: The visuals can be rough around the edges, but they are vibrant, detailed, and often downright beautiful.

Sound: Toren features a great soundtrack as well as good sound effects

Summary 7.7 Great
Gameplay 0
Graphics 0
Sound 0
Summary rating from user's marks. You can set own marks for this article - just click on stars above and press "Accept".
Accept
Summary 0.0 Terrible

Toren

Developer: Swordtales | Publisher: Versus Evil | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Indie / Adventure | Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

Although Toren involves a dragon and a tower, you are not playing as a knight in shining armor, and there are no princesses to save. Instead, you play as a young girl who is simply named Moonchild. Trapped within the confines of an ancient tower, Moonchild must ascend its treacherous floors to reach the top and confront the dragon. Even this is not as straightforward as you may think, as the flow of time is anything but normal.

Toren is the creation of Brazilian developers Swordtales and is quite an impressive offering, considering that it is their debut title. The game plays out as a 3rd person adventure where you guide Moonchild, a character chained to an unending cycle of life and death, which can only be broken if the dragon guarding the tower is slain. The game doesn’t spell out the story for you but instead provides you with optional dream sequences that can be completed to uncover more about the events that transpired. Suffice to say it involves a wizard who angered the sun by being a bit too ambitious with the tower he built in order to reach the moon. You don’t really need to understand the story to appreciate or enjoy the game fully. Still, it definitely adds to the experience, so we recommend seeking out all the dream sequences.

Thanks to the nature of the tower, you’ll find that Moonchild actually ages over the course of your adventure. Although the game will only take about an hour or two to complete in real-time, Moonchild grows from a baby into a strong and capable woman along the way. She also dies frequently, whether through your mistakes or in unavoidable ways, but is always reborn to try again. Regarding actual gameplay, you’ll spend your time running and jumping while avoiding or defeating the occasional enemies. There are also a couple of straightforward puzzles to solve and regular encounters with the tower’s guardian. The platforming elements are a little awkward, as jumping can feel loose and imprecise, while the combat lacks similar titles’ impact or excitement. These issues do detract somewhat from the experience but are still tolerable.

The puzzles are generally easy to solve, and fans of the genre won’t encounter anything here that will stump them for too long. You might be required to trace some symbols using salt, push around statues, navigate landscapes while buffeted by strong winds, or survive the freezing cold by lighting torches. Some puzzles, such as crossing invisible pathways by looking at the mirrored ceiling, are good. However, others, such as waiting for occasional lightning flashes in the dark to see where you are going or what you are doing, are a bit tedious. There are also a couple of stealth sections where you must dart from cover to cover to avoid getting turned to stone by your adversary.

Visually, Toren is a mix of good and bad, but one thing is sure: the game has a surreal feel. This is especially noticeable in the abstract style of the dream levels, but even the regular tower sections have a dreamlike quality. The art style is very vibrant, and the environment is quite colorful. Graphic options are restricted to selecting the quality level and enabling blur or screen space ambient occlusion. Even at the highest settings, some textures and models look a little rough around the edges though. The fixed camera, which can only be moved around slightly, can also be a pain at times. Finally, some animations also look a little awkward, especially the ones of Moonchild jumping. However, the lighting is very good, and the game’s overall style makes up for the visual shortcomings.

The music in Toren is very good, and the moody soundtrack further enhances the mysterious atmosphere of the game. Sound effects are also quite decent, but unfortunately, there isn’t much in the way of voice acting. The developers strongly recommend using a controller to play Toren, and we definitely agree. The game uses three buttons for all its functions: one for attacking or performing a context-sensitive action, one for jumping, and one for looking at a point of interest. Even with a controller, jumping can still feel a little floaty.

Although many things about this game can be criticized, it is still well worth the low price tag. It draws a lot of inspiration from PS2-era classics such as Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, but it also adds its unique style to the mix. The game is relatively short, so we recommend not skipping any dream sequences when playing. While Toren could have benefited from a bit more polish, it is still an enjoyable and thought-provoking game. Fans of the genre should definitely check out what it has to offer and experience its unique game world.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Processor: 2 GHz dual core processor
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel HD3000, Nvidia GeForce GT8600 or equivalent
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
  • OS: Windows 7, Windows 8.1
  • Processor: Quad core CPU: Intel Core i5-750, AMD Phenom II X4 955
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: DirectX 11 graphics card with 1GB Video RAM: nVidia GTX 480, AMD Radeon HD 5870
  • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space

Related posts

House of Caravan

House of Caravan

House of Caravan is a first-person exploration and puzzle game set entirely in a small, deserted mansion. The limited amount of puzzles are disappointing, to say the least, and slowly creeping through the mansion opening every cabinet and drawer grows old very quickly. Thankfully, the game can be completed in less than 90 minutes, provided you manage to avoid the bugs and wonky physics. This game could have done a lot more with the story and setting but ended up falling far short in all areas. Gameplay: Slow, tedious, and boring. Graphics: Decent enough, but very dark. Sound: Stilted voice acting and unmemorable music.

Max Payne 3

Max Payne 3

Max Payne 3 is quite a big departure from past installments, both in tone and visuals. It is however still a great game with plenty of action packed sequences. The over-abundance of cut-scenes can be a bit annoying for those that want to get right to the action but the story is gripping enough and takes Max to some pretty dark places. Highly recommended. Gameplay: Feels like you are in the middle of a big-budget action movie. Graphics: Excellent with lots of varied locations. Sound: Awesome voice acting and a great soundtrack.

Ookibloks

Ookibloks

Help Ooki the Monkey retrieve his stolen bananas from some nefarious crabs in this classic action puzzler. The game was originally a mobile title but works well on PC and feels more like a long-lost arcade title than something that was designed for a touch screen. It has more than 100 levels to keep players busy along with daily challenges and a score attack mode. While not perfect, it is still an easy recommendation for fans of the genre, especially considering the price. Gameplay: Pushing Ooki from block to block while gathering bananas and avoiding enemies is trickier than it sounds, especially when trying to get a perfect combo. Graphics: The visuals are bright and colorful with cut designs for everything from Ooki to the enemies and bosses. Sound: The soundtrack is very upbeat and catchy, which makes its inclusion as MP3 files within the game folder even better.

Seven Doors

Seven Doors

Seven Doors is a puzzle game that challenges players to navigate their way through several unique challenges. Each room challenges players in a different way and the developers have come up with plenty of unique scenarios. There isn't really an over-arching story to tie everything together and the game is also quite short, but it's an enjoyable experience while it lasts. Gameplay: Seven Doors will challenge your problem-solving skills in several unique ways. Graphics: Not cutting-edge, but impressive enough for a small studio. Sound: Very good.

Tales of Aravorn: Seasons Of The Wolf

Tales of Aravorn: Seasons Of The Wolf

Seasons of the Wolf strays even further from the visual novel path than Loren the Amazon Princess did and feels like a full-fledged role playing game. It still has great characters and an engrossing story, but you’ll be spending more time doing quests and less time romancing party members. Cranking up the difficulty setting also provides a much bigger challenge this time round. Since this game is not a sequel to Loren and only set in the same fantasy world you don’t need any prior knowledge to jump in and enjoy it. Don’t take our word for it though, check out the demo for yourself. Gameplay: The game is more of a role playing title than a visual novel, but remains very engrossing. Graphics: Beautiful artwork, varied locations and great character designs. Sound: No speech, but some good music.

Always The Same Blue Sky…

Always The Same Blue Sky...

Always The Same Blue Sky is a visual novel about a student who transfers to yet another school in yet another remote location, but things are a little different this time. This is thanks to the presence of Kira, a girl who lives on the island and attends the same school. Life is a little more exciting and mysterious after Kira offers to show the protagonist around the island in this short visual novel. The game has flaws, but the price tag is low enough to make it a decent impulse buy. Gameplay: There are not a lot of choices, and the game is relatively short, but the story is interesting. Graphics: The sprite artwork is good, but the backgrounds are a little uneven in quality. Sound: The game lacks voice acting, but the soundtrack is quite good.

Leave a comment

17 − seven =