Toren Review: Beautiful, But Painfully Short

Toren review
out of 5

Toren is one spectacular game to look at. But unfortunately, as the tale of Moonchild gets going, it ends. There may be something to be said for a game that can be started and finished in one sitting, and if any game were to have the distinction, Toren would be a great candidate, but a couple of hours of gameplay with very little post-game content may not be enough to justify a purchase.

Toren is the story of Moonchild, who was killed during a fight with a dragon and was resurrected as a baby to fight the battle all over again. In fact, this cycle repeated itself throughout time. The gist of the story focuses on Moonchild’s climbing of a tower with the sole purpose of defeating the dragon and to return night (the moon) to the world’s sky. The moon was locked away after the denizens of this world tried to build a tower to reach the gods. Since then, the world has been decimated by constant day.

Toren Review

Moonchild begins the game as a baby and grows up during the story, as her life cycle is part of the game’s mythology.

As you can probably tell, Moonchild represents the actual moon, and by defeating the dragon and escaping the tower, she completes her mission. She is joined by the mysterious, ethereal, wizard, who originally built the tower. The wizard proves to be her guiding force, who points her in the right directions and helps her arm herself with the sword that can slay the dragon once and for all.

The story of Toren plays heavily on ancient myths, and as Moonchild completes her journey, she (and we, by proxy) learn more about the world that Sword Tales has created, and of a knight — a champion of the sun — that once felled the dragon. Only by freeing this knight from his eternal prison can the two heroes together (moon and sun) finally banish the dragon forever and restore balance to the day cycle.

Toren’s tower is as much a puzzle — one tall, intricate puzzle — as any game should have. In fact, climbing up, and looking for new ways to advance felt a little like Shadow of the Colossus in the presentation. And the pesky dragon is waiting at certain intervals drawing Moonchild into combat to continue her climb. This breaks up the monotony of trial and error, and gives more action to a game that focuses on brains more than button mashing.

Toren Review

Climbing this bad boy and defeating the dragon at the top is the basis of Toren.

There are also little “side quests” where Moonchild goes into the dream world to solve those puzzles as well, as each dream world level is a unique puzzle in itself.

The simple game design stuns on the screen, borrowing elements from many other games, without copying any one too much. Brazilian developer Sword Tales has done an outstanding job world building, and the award-winning art direction and story combine into a true experience. The end result is one where even non-players can watch and enjoy.

The biggest issue with Toren is the shortness of the whole endeavor. Again, I finished this in around two hours, which was nice to have another game finished and a new collection of trophies on my PSN, but Toren is so good that I wanted more, and to play longer.

Combat, especially on smaller swarm-like enemies, is also a bit off. Hit detection is very generous (stand anywhere near an enemy and swing your sword and it will die). But again, I give this one a pass as the focus of Toren is not in fighting — even though the entire concept of the game dictates that Moonchild is to slay a dragon — but in the climb; the journey.

Toren is a wonderful little game for the PSN — and by little, I mean short — and if players give it a chance, they too will realize how wonderful the game is, and then it’s over.

Toren is a digital-only title and is available now for the Playstation 4. This review was made possible by a review code provided by the publisher.

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