Toren is a difficult game to classify. It sits somewhere between narratively-driven art titles like Dear Esther and Gone Home, and the more simplistic side of action-adventure titles like Ico and Shadow of the Colussus. Its narrative centers around a girl born into a barren world and her metaphorical journey of self-realization, and is influenced heavily by a marriage of folkloric tales.
Toren is the first title from indie developer Swordtales, and was one of the first titles developed with financial assistance from the Brazilian government. It’s already something of an industry darling, having been nominated for a number of indie gaming awards, among them an Honorable Mention for excellence in Visual Arts at IGF 2012.
It’s a parallel that’s been made before, and it’s a difficult one to escape – so many of the visual choices and the design elements recall Ico, and to a lesser degree Shadow of the Colossus. Fans of the fictional world shared by both of those titles will feel right at home with Toren. The simplicity of the game-play, the animation, and the art style are all reminiscent of an earlier, simpler time in game development – for good and ill.