Some people play videogames to overcome challenges, others to get a sense of empowerment, multiplayer enthusiasts often look for social interactions. Not to say that I don’t enjoy other aspects of video games but, what I mostly seek when playing is immersing in other worlds. Wander around alien places and learn about their lore.
That may be the reason why games like Ico or Journey always draw my attention. When I heard about this game called Toren I instantly got that vibe from it and I knew I had to try it. Here’s my experience.
The reason why I mentioned the names Ico and Journey before isn’t mere coincidence. Toren is an adventure game in which you take control of the Moonchild and your journey to the top of a mythical tower named Toren. On your way you’ll be facing some light puzzles, some action and also exploration. It is not as puzzle heavy as Ico but it has a child protagonist defending herself with a sword which is something you won’t find on Journey. The gameplay revolves around an abandoned construction like in Ico, but it also has the length of Journey. As you can already see, it pretty much mixes the same elements that compose those other two games.
I already hinted what the game was about. The basic premise is that you are Moonchild and your fate is climbing to the top of Toren (the tower) to make the moon return to the sky. Then, the story unfolds in a quite cryptic way. Giving you snippets of information in form of prophecies and memories. I actually found that to be a great decision because it adds to the immersion making you feel like you’re living within some ancient legend. Even if it’ll make you scratch your head once in a while trying to understand fully what the game is trying to explain, I think that’s part of the fun.
This game’s visuals got me more confused than the cryptic story though. On one hand, the game’s artistic vision is superb. The architecture, the surreal imagery the game provides in the dream sequences, the colors… the game is really pretty from an artistic point of view. But on the other hand, technically the game looks very dated. Everything is very low-poly, the textures aren’t sharp, the animations are stiff. It’ll make you wonder if this game couldn’t come out for the vita. Overall I have to say that I liked the look of the game but it certainly won’t convince everyone.
On the audio department, the game features a magnific soundtrack which is actually kind of expected in this kind of game and I’m glad to say that it doesn’t dissapoint.
Things I liked
- Intriguing lore: The game’s mythical vibe hooked me from the very start. Like I mentioned above, the developers tried to make you feel like you’re playing through an ancient legend and in that sense, they succeded.
- Beautiful art: This game loves to show you all kinds of amusing vistas. The color palette alone is sure one of the most varied you can find in a game. That, in conjunction with the great soundtrack will make you want to dive into Toren’s world.
Things I didn’t
- Dated technically: It’s good that the game reminds me of Ico for a number of reasons but not because of its technology. It certainly doesn’t exploit the ps4’s capabilities.
Who’d like this?
If you’re seeking for that mythical experience very present in Ueda’s creations like Ico or SOTC, this should be a little (3 hours long) appetizer until we can get our hands on The Last guardian. You’ll have to consider though the short budget this game had and that clearly shines through its dated engine.
<This review is based on the ps4 version of the game but Toren is also available on other platforms> <I’m well aware that the game Ico is mentioned a thousand times in the article, I’ll try not to do it again>