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
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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

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