Review: Torn (PSVR)

Review: Torn (PSVR)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Oculus Rift
  • HTC Vive

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Required
  • DualShock 4 None
  • Move Required (2)
  • PS VR Aim Controller None
Title: Torn
Format: PSN (4.7 GB)
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Publisher: Aspyr
Developer: Aspyr
Original MSRP: $29.99 (US), £24.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Aspyr describes Torn as “a dark science-fiction mystery”. The protagonist comes across an old mansion and quickly discovers it has much more to offer than it seems. While the developer fell short in a few respects, they delivered a satisfying puzzle game with only a couple of stumbling blocks.

Gameplay:
So it’s been about six months since I’ve played a PS VR game. Right away I am moving around with free movement and it feels great, not the slightest hint of motion sickness. There’s even a sprint button, although it’s really a faster walk, and it could still be faster. I was slightly bummed that there is no free turn. The point is that the movement feels great… until about fifteen minutes into the game.

Very early on you pick up a flashlight/tool. You hold the flashlight in one hand while the other affects movement and manipulation of puzzle and objects. The way the controls are laid out it’s almost impossible, certainly uncomfortable, to move forward and turn at the same time.

Using free movement to move around the mansion, I got stuck a number of times on objects, handrails, etc. Most of the time, turning around and moving away would get me unstuck. A few times I had to go into the menu and switch to the blink movement to get free and then switch back to free movement.

Having the ability to strafe side to side and move straight back would have been nice. It’s annoying to have to turn around, move forward, and then turn back around.

Review: Torn (PSVR)

As for the puzzles, I genuinely enjoyed them. However, they were never very challenging. I was never stuck for more than a handful of minutes. There was never an “OMG I am a genius” moment upon completing any of them.

The puzzles consist of completing electrical circuits that span the entire room, including the floor and ceiling. The flashlight reveals the circuits that are invisible to the naked eye while it’s also used to grab and rotate objects found around the room with the connections needed to complete the circuit.

Every room has three circuits that need to be completed to move on with the story. Your in-game companion will suggest what room to tackle next but they can be done in any order.

I wouldn’t blame people for feeling like the puzzles get repetitive. For me though, there was a trickle of new puzzle mechanics and twists that kept me engaged. Best of all, there was no need to stop or have a tutorial explanation pop up. Each new mechanic just naturally fit in and was self-explanatory.

I was in the kitchen looking for a puzzle piece when I came across a bunch of new, different pieces. I instantly saw how they could be used in a puzzle. After completing my current puzzle, the next puzzle had a new twist and the newly discovered pieces fit right in.

Unfortunately the controls aren’t explained very well. While holding an object in the air, the game explains that you can rotate objects. I tried to rotate objects to line them up with a circuit over and over again. What you aren’t told is that the object can only rotate after it has snapped to the circuit.

Review: Torn (PSVR)

At one point I was holding the tool in my left hand and I went to the Controls Menu because I missed which button was the Help button. I was curious to see how it would help players. After pausing, the Menu popped up and the tool was suddenly in my other hand.

I checked the Controls Menu, returned to the game, and the tool was back in my left hand again. So the Help button is on the wrong hand because the Menus always have the tool in the right hand.

This one is kinda on me. The Controls Menu showed the tool in the right hand and the Help button on the left. But when I was looking at the Menu, I was thinking Help button was on same Move controller because in the game I was holding it in my left hand.

After a couple of seconds of it not working, I started pressing every button. At the time I didn’t know that the Help button could only be used at certain times and the game does not explain that. Too much time was spent exploring the controls when I should have been exploring the interesting and quirky mansion.

The developers said the story was inspired by Twilight and Black Mirror and I can see that. It’s a cautionary tale of misusing technology. Unfortunately, the storytelling never reaches the levels it was striving for, it feels more like the first third of a book. They have set up the world and the characters within and now things will really get going with Act Two. Only there was no Act Two.

Review: Torn (PSVR) Review: Torn (PSVR)

The story is repetitively told in chunks. If I held parts of someone’s memory, I would not hold them back. Even at the end of the game, the protagonist gives a few memories back, and holds more until asked again a minute later. Why? Every time I went to see the other main character, I had to give back all the memories in three waves. It made the story even more predictable.

The mansion itself, on the other hand, tells a decent story. Walking around the mansion and taking in each room helped me get inside the scattered and eccentric minds of the couple that lived there.

Visuals:
Torn is not a technical showpiece. There are plenty of flat objects where someone attempted to texture an object to make it appear 3D. Still the developers managed to create a delightful environment. Instead of a high polygon count they used a plethora of objects to give life and detail to each room.

Audio:
For me the background music largely went unnoticed. A few times there would be a sudden orchestral swell but it didn’t always seem like the right time or place.

I accidentally took a bunch of videos instead of pictures while playing the game. When I started a new game to get a shot of the mansion, I played enough to trigger the opening credits again and I was surprised by orchestral course, it’s just beautiful. In the end it would not have moved the needle on Torn, but more music on par with the credit sequence would have been nice.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Review: Torn (PSVR)

Conclusion:
Despite the fact that story in Torn is not the dark science mystery I was hoping for, Aspyr was still able to create an imaginative place to explore. The puzzles are well-balanced and stay fresh without being too challenging. It’s certainly not a reason to buy a PSVR, but it is worth a look for VR fans.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Matt Engelbart

Matt Engelbart

I love all things video games. When I am not gaming I am watching the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, BBQing, and reading.

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