Toren PAX South Preview
Kalvin Martinez / Feb 18th, 2015 1 Comment
PAX South is an itimate affair, allowing more developers to stand out and visitors to discover more games. Toren, an interesting adventure title, was a game that sucked me in at PAX South, and it will do the same to you as soon as you pick up the controller.
Players take control of a girl with tangled green hair. In the demo, the girl starts as a mere babe learning to walk. Her first movement is toward a glowing bird, but before she can grasp it, she is transported to a chamber with an ominous figure on a throne.
In the tomb, there are two artifacts: a shimmering green sword and a shiny helmet. The girl is also quite a bit older, now an adolescent. The figure tells her about the sword, the long dead race she can save, and the path of the monk and warrior that lies before her.
From the chamber, she is transported to a monolithic tower, and this marks the true beginning of your journey. As players explore the outside of the tower, they will happen upon a shrine with three giant stone buttons. Etched on these buttons are runes, which need to be pressed in a specific order to activate the shrine.
By backing up, and playing around with the camera, you can get an angle on the sky with the proper rune order. Once you press the buttons in the correct order, a small piece of cloth gently floats onto the shrine. This denotes a checkpoint.
Upon entering the tower, you notice a huge well in the middle of the room covered with a thick stone slab. Push the slab off the well and a giant tree springs forth. As you watch the tree grow in front of you, you notice one of the tree’s limbs is carrying the sword from the chamber.
Reaching the sword is the main goal. To do so, you need to climb higher in the tower. A direct path is not a viable option, so you need to scale the outside of the tower. By moving specific loose stone, you can create a path forward.
Despite making a path to your prize, danger in the form of a black dragon with luminous green eyes appears. This deadly foe is perched on a small face of rock parallel to the tower. It catches sight of you, and wretches out black energy from its mouth. Touching the blackness will turn you to stone, so players will need to avoid it.
Luckily, a series of pillars are between you and the dragon. If you’re patient and smart, you can use the pillars effectively to avoid the dragon’s blasts. After successfully slipping past the dragon, you can run right toward the sword. The main character begins to age to a teenager as she gets closer to the stone. Before she reaches her goal, the black dragon turns her to stone.
Fate is not so cruel, however. Your death is not meaningless, as the sword manages to fall to the bottom of the tower where the well resides, and a piece of cloth falls with it. Death is nothing but a transition because a baby appears next to the cloth. In a blink, the baby turns into the adolescent child you were when you entered the tower.
Reborn anew, you can continue your ascent of the tower. Now with the sword in hand, and with a means to attack, you can fight the black dragon. As you climb the tower again, you come across the dragon. After a weak fight, the dragon flees, and you must chase it.
Returning back to the area with the path to the sword, you can now take an alternate route to where the dragon escaped. In this new area, there is the dragon ready to end you and a series of statues behind you. These statues are adorned with stone girls of variable ages. However, your goal now armed with a sword is to slay that dragon.
When you begin to attack the dragon, it’ll parry several of your blows. After a few thwacks, it’ll take damage, and knock you down and fling your sword far away. Knowing you are defenseless, the dragon will begin to spew black energy at you again. You quickly hide behind a statue and learn it will protect you from the blasts.
These statues can be moved, allowing you to get closer to your sword without dying. As you move these statues, you notice the girls atop them look a lot like the older version of the main character. After regaining your sword, you can rush directly at the dragon as the sword and statues are made of the same protective materials.
You will need to attack the dragon and recover your sword using the statues a few times, each time becoming more dangerous as you need to travel further to get your sword back. However, after you attack the dragon a third time, he takes severe damage. This is also where the demo ends.
Toren has a ton of potential as an adventure-puzzle game. Art direction and lighting give the game an impressive look. The biggest flaw is the camera, which only rotates a bit left or right. This makes it hard to get a handle on what is happening at times or where you need to go. Controls are a bit loose, but that should be hammered out by launch.
The most important thing to know about Toren is it draws you into its world immediately. Often when playing a demo at any event or convention, there is an awkward feeling of taking too long or not figuring out the mechanics of the game soon enough. You feel dumb for dying or not immediately being great at it. However, that didn’t happen with Toren, but not because it holds your hand. Rather, it is because the demo makes you feel OK experimenting and trying to find the solution to a problem at your own pace. Any self-consciousness melts away as you want to explore and learn how to interact with the beautiful world of Toren.
tags: PAX South , preview , Swordtales , Toren , versus evil