Brain Bending: Torsion

I had a dream like this once. It didn't end well
Oh goodness, I think I need a cup of tea, a quick lie down and someone to tell me everything will be okay. I’ve just played a gameplay prototype of Torsion, a “space warp gameplay prototype.” Like Narbacular Drop and TAG: The Power of Paint before it, Torsion is a simple demo made by a brainy computer engineering student and showcases a simple mechanic in a First-Person puzzler that quietly breaks your mind. There’s some footage doing painful things to your sense of spatial reasoning below.

Startling, hey? How about that bit where physics and gravity were being affected by the shifts as well? You can download and play it here, though you’ll need the latest PhysX runtime, DirectX runtime and VC++ 2005 CRT as stated in the readme. There are handy links to their download locations in the readme as well. It’s actually not all that bad to play, once you get the hang of the shifts in perspectives, floaty movement and the feeling of your brain dribbling out your ears. It is extremely experimental though, so don’t go in expecting a fully polished proof of concept.

It’s currently in “on and off” development by Tobias Zirr, a student at KIT, graphics programmer and one of those 64k challenge techno-wizards. Intimidatingly, it’s running on Breeze, an engine of his own creation. Unfortunately however, Mr Zirr says on his website that:

This is a gameplay prototype that I’ve been working on for several weeks about one year ago.

Steady on, newshounds: the actual video/prototype was only posted this week. Hopefully Mr Zirr will resume development of his idea some day soon, as it’s not often you see something this original.


  1. skinlo says:

    Guess what features the next Portal is going to have! :) Dunno how it would be integrated though.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Yea, it seems just the sort of thing like the original portals and paint games… but it looks like most of the puzzles shown could be solved using portals as well… sort of counter-productive to include both (and an overabundance of “non-portal surfaces” would probably ruin the original Portal feeling).

    • vivlo says:

      indeed, there is a real portal-ish feeling in this gameplay, and i guess it was more or less in this thing’s creator’s mind because there is the same concept of “a weapon firing two… things ? distorting space, one blue and one red” and the design of buttons really reminds Portal.

      on a side note, it’s nice to see some non-euclidian geometry in a game. I’ve been wondering why there was so few games in which our appreciation of the world in 3 dimensions is imitated, as video game is a good way to escape from these rules ; game creators should try to escape those 3 dimensional constraints in clever ways like in this and maybe one could say (in a somewhat lesser importance) in Portal, not trying to recreate these constraints. Escape the unique 3 dimensional space, like in dreams.

    • gwathdring says:

      For some reason talking about non-euclidian geometry in games and watching that video makes me want another Psychonauts game. Too bad it doesn’t really need a sequel. :\

    • pepper says:

      Vivio, I agree with you, but remember we are all trained to think in 3 dimension in the euclidean system, so getting people to actually do/use something different is probably a lot more difficult.

  2. Jahkaivah says:

    Reminds me of:

    link to

    Heh, I wonder if this is any similar to the F-Stop mechanic Valve were working on. It would certainly fit the name.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      My thoughts exactly. Regardless, it is very nice.

      Probably some crazy math going on behind the scenes!

    • LionsPhil says:

      That’s what it made me think of, yeah.

      And it hurt when he inevitably started attaching it to moving surfaces. Ebrberbr.

    • Keep says:

      Given an “f-stop” refers to aperture size in photography, I’m inclined to think there’re multiple “holy shit” game mechanics still awaiting actual…uh…games…for their use.

  3. ArcaneSaint says:

    So, how do I rebind the keys on this to support my AZERTY keyboard? Alt-Shifting didn’t work.
    Also, this game reminds me of a flash game I played not too long ago.
    EDIT: oh, I just read the comment above me. The game was Faultline.

    • Bodminzer says:

      Make attempts to get rid of your spergers and use a normal keyboard like everybody else I guess?

    • LionsPhil says:

      …or maybe he’s just using a French computer.

    • ArcaneSaint says:

      I live in Belgium, AZERTY is standard here.
      Usually, I just alt+shift to switch to QWERTY layout, but for some reason that doesn’t work with this game. Making it quite difficult to move fluently.
      EDIT: Btw, what does “spergers” mean? I Googled it but the only thing I can conclude is you misspelled “aspergers”. That probably isn’t it though, or do some people use them as keyboards? I guess it qualifies for the ‘green’ label… EDIT 2: Nevermind, got it now. Oh, and sir, that was completely uncalled for. Are you perhaps American?

  4. Maxheadroom says:

    I’ve been playing too much TF2. That top screenshot instantly reminded me of that map with that thing in it.

    y’know, the thing, with the cart

  5. Shadrach says:

    Those demoscene guys never cease to amaze me. Reminds me to go check out new demos on

  6. ResonanceCascade says:

    I’d like to play it, but any time I hear the word “torsion,” I think of a testicular torsion and find that my legs involuntarily cross themselves in discomfort.

    • anonymousity says:

      Yeah testicular torsion is scary stuff, I saw the title and I was worried the game was going to be about death by nads entanglement.

  7. Carra says:

    Well, I’d like to play that game.

  8. westyfield says:

    I haven’t played it, but the video didn’t answer this question: what’s to stop you from simply putting a blob at your feet, a blob on the final platform and pulling them together? Are there unblobbable surfaces like in Portal?

  9. Ice-Fyre says:

    Video’s never play well off that site for me :(

    • Baines says:

      If you mean the embedded video won’t start playing, click on the “vimeo” name. That will take you to the vimeo page for the video, and you may be able to play it there. For some reason, I have that problem with embedded vimeo videos.

  10. Sam Crisp says:

    This sort of space distortion creeps me out. Someone could make an effective horror game around this. Imagine if you were talking to someone and they started stretching. And then some guy comes along and shoots a red ball on your head and a blue one on your foot. You look down at them, then look up, making eye contact – for a beat – before the unthinkable happens.

  11. Tacroy says:

    The video actually made me go “holy shit” at the part with the rotating space compressor.

  12. Squishpoke says:

    Doesn’t seem that mind-bending to me, but that’s probably because I’ve played CRUSH on the PSP, which is about three times more brain splatter.

  13. steggieav says:

    This would be an interesting game to play under the influence of LSD.

    • ArcaneSaint says:

      Not really, the effects mostly just cancel each other out.

  14. SirKicksalot says:

    Would be a proper mindfuck if played in 3D.

  15. nemryn says:

    I was perfectly fine with this, right up until the part with the rotating bar.

  16. cjlr says:

    As great as that is for puzzles…

    Call me when it’s multiplayer!

  17. Turin Turambar says:

    Goddamnit just in time, yersterday i finished a book about Einstein and relativity. Spacetime warping!

  18. gwathdring says:

    Huh. It looks really interesting but it wasn’t especially mind bending to me. I still want to play it though.

  19. Synesthesia says:

    please make a clay something-shader for the graphics, call doug tennapel to do it (forget the redneckyness for a moment, please) and ill buy it in a heartbeat.

  20. Koozer says:

    Not really space warping, it looks like it literally drags the two objects closer and warps them, with added funky view effect. Still looks great.

    Won’t run :(

    • faelnor says:

      Nope, that’s definitely warping of space coordinates.

      I didn’t watch the video but played the demo to the end, it’s really great.

  21. JB says:

    Looks pretty funktacular. I’m looking forward to giving this a whirl.

  22. Navagon says:

    Looks interesting. I’ll have to give this a try.

  23. Dreamhacker says:

    Is Andrew Smee the mysterious new full time RPS writer?

  24. bongosabbath says:

    Change the setting to an urban sprawl, add in combat/wall running… I really just want a psychedelic Mirror’s Edge clone. PLEASE. PLEEEAASE.

  25. Leandri says:

    In the latest innovation to mass transit technology, you don’t travel to your destination, destination travels to you!

  26. SquareWheel says:

    link to

    Well that was fun.

  27. The Army of None says:

    That trailer… Not too bad, I was thinking, up until the end bit, where he held the two parts of a spinning whatchamajig together, causing the rest of existence to bend around it.

  28. Longrat says:

    That was brain breakingly awesome.