Toren – Baby Steps

Toren got released back in May only a few weeks after its announcement, and it looked like it was going to be so good. The trailer showed hints of Ico and Journey… the artwork had such a distinct style. I was really excited for it.

title Maybe it’s my fault for getting so excited… because if I hadn’t, it wouldn’t have been such a let down.

The art style was just as distinct as I expected, to be fair. But it was unpolished and looked a few generations old. There were moments where it looked amazing, but for the most part it just looked kind of awkward. The biggest problem, though, were the animations. Characters in this game did not move smoothly. Everything felt really janky and awkward. Especially the jump animation. The music is mostly subtle ambience… which suits the type of game this is. It was never terribly impressive, but it did fit.

The gameplay was…. dry. There was a lot of walking, planting my sword in the ground to avoid being blown away, and – of all things – coating lines on the ground in salt. There, you understand the basics of the gameplay. There’s a bit of combat, a bit of platforming… but basically that’s the core of the game. There’s too much ‘game’ to try to emulate Journey’s simplicity, but not enough game to be satisfying. It’s in some awkward middle ground that just doesn’t work.

I haven’t said terribly much about the story… there’s not terribly much to say. It’s a pretty typical myth – humanity built a structure that angered some celestial being which led to humanity’s demise. In this case, you must climb the tower known as Toren and do… something… to bring back the moon. Or something. It’s never entirely clear, but it’s not quite vague enough to be the good type of ambiguity.

Toren-character The game starts with you learning to walk as a baby stumbling around. While your character stops stumbling early on, the game itself never quite learns to walk and offers a passable game, but an experience that is far too inconsistent and incomplete feeling to really be satisfying. Oh, and it took me two hours to finish blind.

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