Toren is the debut effort from Brazilian studio Sword Tales and follows the story of a girl who must solve the mystery of the tower the game is named after. It’s a story about regrowth and regeneration and claims to be a fusion of poetry and videogames. We aren’t so sure about that but it certainly is interesting.
From the start it is clear the game is heavily inspired by Ico. The whole game is spent climbing the tower and solving puzzles much in the same way as Ico. You also get hold of a magic sword from time to time which acts to shield you from darkness much in the same way as Sony’s much lived game as well.
Toren has a distinctive visual style which is filled with vibrant colours and design. It’s not necessarily the most beautifully stunning game to look at, but it certainly is distinctive and sets up the dark and brooding world well.
The game is only around two hours long and during that time you will mostly be moving around searching for block puzzles to solve, engaging in a bit of light platforming and entering the various dream sequences. These sequences are supposed to represent an awaking within the character of various things such as mercy. They each carry a strong sense of visual design and act as a good counterpoint to the main area of the tower.
The overall goal is to climb to the top of the Tower and defeat the horned dragon which sits atop it. As you progress your character grows in both age and stature and of course everything is all linked together with cryptic bits of story that are drip fed as you ascend.
It’s a great idea and for the most part if works well but there are a fair amount of rough edges that can become frustrating over the games short run time. The jumping and combat mechanic is somewhat basic but works most of the time. However, there are occasions when you fall off a ledge and the game can’t work out how to pull you back up without you dropping to your death.
There are also a couple of dreams which are badly judged. One area where you have to walk around a pitch black level is teeth grindingly horrendous as most of times you fall off a ledge you don’t grab hold and just fall to your death. This is the next step on from a level with invisible walk ways and shows up a lack of creativity in the level design through these sections.
Overall, Toren is an imaginative debut from the Brazilian studio. It has both good and bad points but does create a unique and interesting tale once it gets going a bit. With a bit more polishing this could have been an excellent experience that would draw you back time after time. The stodgy mechanics and some poor design in some of dreams will put many people off though and that’s a real shame.