Toren (PlayStation 4) review
"You could say a title like this isn't supposed to be fun, only meaningful. Well, I've said it before and I will again: why can't it be both?"
This is an experimental era, one in which game developers often employ various styles and themes as they attempt to deliver a heartfelt message and maybe produce a standout title in the process. The quality of the resulting products typically can be ascertained by asking a simple question: are those artistic aspirations built on a firm foundation? It's unpopular to say it these days, but sometimes games can offer grand vistas, great intellect and compelling artwork, yet still fall flat because they came together around a mediocre core. To wit, Toren...
Visually, the game hearkens back to the much-loved PS2 adventure, ICO. Excellent scenery and character models resemble an animated film rather than your standard video game. The ruined tower that serves as Toren's setting boasts not only half-crumbled courtyards and smashed staircases, but holes that usher in brilliant sunbeams which illuminate the lush vegetation slowly taking over the fortress. Entering dreams, as well, displays an appropriate amount the developer's talent for creating beauty and grace. There are gorgeous reflective floors, stormy horizons, and fiery locales. Moonchild, the protagonist, also takes on various forms throughout the quest, alternating between a chubby-kneed toddler and an enraged warrior complete with tangled hair and fearsome face paint.
The art style pairs nicely with an excellent soundtrack that perfectly sets the mood for the adventure. Stringed instruments capture the wonder and grandeur of many scenarios, while underscoring the peril that Moonchild faces. The song "Springtime," which plays when our heroine is still a youngster, exudes the innocence of youth. In contrast, "Waltz of the Fallen" is an ire-raising tune that represents her struggle against the game's principle antagonist: a nameless, menacing black dragon. Each magnificent cut is as expertly placed as it is composed and performed, giving the game a rich artistic touch.
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (May 20, 2015)
Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.
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