Michael Leparc On August 5, 2015 at 10:42 am

Toren LogoWhen playing through many of the same lookalike AAA titles each fall, many of them sequels of sequels, all looking to stake a claim to your wallet with similar tactics, you might wonder if game making would be better divorced from the profit incentive. Toren is a great counterexample in that it is a game made seemingly devoid of any motive for material gain, partially bankrolled by the Brazilian government. Unfortunately it’s also a case of careful what you wish for as it falls short of delivering on most of its promise as it drowns in its artistic emphasis over all else.

The story revolves around a simple theme, but a strong one. You play as the Moonchild, starting as a baby and growing up as she climbs the tower. Your goal is to bring back the moon and restore balance to the world by slaying the dragon at the top. The symbolism is compelling, but it gets muddled in the way things are told to you, with a mumbling, mysterious guide, and a series of optional dreams and other reveals that really don’t tell you much of anything. I love a little mystery in a story but this was just absurd and demoralizing as felt little progress was actually made over the course of the couple hours or so it takes the game to beat.

Also demoralizing was the awkward, floaty controls, and the various game breaking bugs. I’d gotten caught on steps and other platforms several times with no recourse but to restart from the last checkpoint, which always ended up being way too far back, causing me to redo a dream I had already cleared just to get back to the same spot of the tower I was already at. Talk about frustrating. Camera flaws will also throw you off and cause you to restart from time to time. Otherwise for the most part it’s a typical puzzle platformer, with none of the puzzles being too particularly vexing except for the mechanics getting in your way. The bouts with the dragon are the more challenging and rewarding parts of the game, but I’m not sure they are worth the grief getting to them.

Visually the game is appealing even if the Moonchild herself is a bit awkward looking in my opinion. There’s a wide range of environments for a game that supposedly takes place in one tower, which is nice to see, but it does suffer from some framerate issues on the PS4 at least. Nothing too terrible but it can throw you off at times, particularly when the screen tears. There isn’t a whole lot of sound to speak of but it sets the mood quite fine.

Ultimately Toren feels more like an incomplete tech demo than a full game, between the length, the bugs, and the story not being quite fleshed all the way out. I think the best I can say for it is that it’s clear Swordtales has the talent to put out something better than this, and I look forward to seeing their full potential flourish like the Moonchild’s does at the end of this game.


There’s not much game to it, and what gameplay there is suffers from defects.


The protagonist looks a bit off, but the environments are pretty.


Could have used some actual voice acting, but doesn’t detract much otherwise.


Not really a finished product, but some flashes of potential.

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