Toren: Hands-On

Game code provided by the publisher

Toren is an interesting game. It also looks to be both linear and story focussed, so I won’t give a full retelling of what I experienced and presume to be the opening to the game. Especially as what I played, I thought, could equate to a short game in its own right. Also, I’ve heard it has been compared to ICO; which I haven’t played so I won’t compare it to that.

It follows your journey up a tower, to defeat a dragon that sits atop it and turns things to stone with a shrieking roar. You are the Moonchild and it’s your job to sacrifice yourself again and again until you defeat it. By sacrifice I don’t mean purposefully kill yourself or get others to do it; mainly because the only other human you see is this weird old man who is sometimes there but also not there – it’s all a bit befuddling. Anyway, your sacrifice is mostly your childhood, as when you die – admittedly only at specific points – you age, which means you actually become more physically adept at the same time, and also taller.

It starts off slow, as after the initial meeting of the dragon (you are an adult I think) where you are turned to stone, you become a wee babby, and then have to learn to crawl and walk. You then get a bit older and older over a few bits of puzzling and platforming. I found it interesting, as your progress looks like it’s being stunted but in fact it isn’t. One such instance sees you clambering up a petrified you from your previous life so that you can clamber up to reach a higher ledge. This progression through death is an interesting one.

Sacrifice and rebirth look to be interesting themes for it to follow. Amongst the tower climbing and dragon fighting, it also took me into a dream world – which I could leave instead of complete – and it once again touched on those themes with its puzzles. There seems to be a fair bit of lore to find, with what seemed to be optional stuff to do in order to unlock it, as it was in the dream sequence I saw.

Other than the dragon, there only seem to be these weird creatures that attack by jumping on you, the old man and a few animals, including a stag. The weird creatures aren’t much of an issue and don’t seem to stick around once the dragon shows its face. You can kill them with a sword or alternatively once they’ve jumped you, you can chuck them off the tower. The old man does his appear and reappear nonsense, and he’s also there to give you a few words each time you die. As for the Stag, you get to pet him, which is nice I suppose.

It does look great though don’t it? It’s not ultra-high res beautiful (which is a bit wishy washy of a thing anyway) but the art direction is looking sharp and for a world that’s quite encapsulated by the confines of the inside and immediate outside of the tower, it really gives a sense of scale.

I did encounter a few issues but nothing that’s soured what I played and presumably will be ironed out prior to release; it mostly involved items being missing due to me flitting between chapters. The only thing that may not change, but I hope that it does, is the Moonchild’s lack of animations during some of the cutscenes. She looks a little like a ventriloquist’s dummy in some parts and it’s a little disturbing to look at. This is just me being picky, so it’s good news; there’s only nit-picky stuff that will most likely be ironed out.

It’s a good looking game that plays well, has some interesting ideas, and will hopefully be smart with both its story and puzzles. I can safely say that I’m looking forward to it with fairly high hopes and hopefully I’ll be able to make better sense of the story next time around.

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I've done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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