Beautiful Brazilian Indie Game Toren Out Now

It’s been quite a while since we last posted anything about Toren [official site], but in the time the game seems to have become more beautiful. And also more released.

You can get your grubby paws on the puzzle adventure right now for just £6.99 on Steam, GOG, and other places and begin your quest to the top of the tower. It’s not just climbing steps, though. We’re promised plenty of tricksy puzzles, along with more than a few skuffles with a certain black dragon guardian.

Developed by Brazilian studio Swordtales, Toren was a finalist for art and design at the Brasil Game Show, as well as receiving an honourable mention at the Independent Games Festival. Looking at it, it’s easy to see why. Not only is it easy on the eyes, but it has more than a touch of Ico about it. Both graphically and in the way it plays.

From the trailer you’ll get a gist of the story, which is adapted from ancient Brazilian myths, and sees the protagonist Moonchild attempt to cease an endless night. With a sword, obviously.

49 Comments

  1. Eight Rooks says:

    Bought it, played it, completed it. It’s a very odd little thing. I’d be very hesitant to praise the visuals too much because the tech is plainly godawful – low-res PS2-era textures, poor modelling, wonky lighting effects, pop-in a few feet away, glitches galore. But the art design is great – garish yet oddly delicate at the same time, and wonderfully expressive. It’s not much of a “game”: there’s effectively just the one enemy, none of the puzzles are that tough and it’s not very long, and yet the atmosphere is terrific. The soundtrack helps – it’s got a fantastic score and some really good audio – it treats its story wonderfully seriously, it’s really well paced and it’s a joy to experience. It’s undeniably a seriously flawed, low-budget release and yet there’s something quite lovely in there too – it’s wedged somewhere in between ICO, Deadly Premonition and a Jodorowsky movie.

    (I have no idea what that awful English voiceover in the trailer is, though. Only one character speaks in the game and he talks what I’m fairly sure is a made-up language a la ICO, SotC and Panzer Dragoon et al. The writing is also much, much better than that.)

    • Dawngreeter says:

      This probably ranks as one of the most useful comments on any site, ever. Thank you very much.

    • tehfish says:

      Also regarding the visuals: I couldn’t get AA or vsync to function at all with an ATI card, so it looked like an absolute mess of jaggies and screen-tearing my end.

      Enjoyed the game though :)

    • Tacroy says:

      As someone with a lot of relatives in Brazil, I can assure you that the voiceover in the trailer is definitely a Brazilian doing their best “American movie voiceover guy” voice.

      Portuguese accents have the unfortunate distinction of sounding a lot like a speech impediment :(

    • Fomorian1988 says:

      You helped me make up my mind on whether to buy the game (I will). Thanks for the helpful comment!

    • The_invalid says:

      Well, that pretty-much completely sold me on this! Will buy for sure :)

  2. RaunakS says:

    That looks beautiful ! I’m definitely buying this to scratch the Ico itch.

    Also, does anyone remember a similar game with a little girl and a tall bronze coloured robot working together in a Zelda-ish action-platform-hybrid ? I’m certain RPS featured it sometime ago, couldn’t find it though. It looked as beautiful as this one !

  3. Deadly Habit says:

    Curious how close this is to Ico as it seems really similar.

  4. Baines says:

    sees the protagonist Moonchild attempt to cease an endless night

    By the trailer, it should be an attempt to cease and endless day, as they were cursed with eternal sunlight.

  5. Tukuturi says:

    Just a heads up, but it’s generally pretty bad form to refer to the traditions, histories, and ideologies of indigenous peoples as myths. It’s considered derogatory.

    • Pliqu3011 says:

      Myth – noun
      A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events

      I’m all for having respect for people’s cultural history, but how is this derogatory?

      • Pliqu3011 says:

        Argh. Forgot to close the cursive tag!
        Will our beloved edit button ever return?

      • Baines says:

        A sizable chunk of the world’s population believes the myths of its various religions are facts, and can get quite upset if you say otherwise.

        • AngoraFish says:

          Some of the population believes that climate change is not real, preferring to believe their own ‘facts’ instead. Some residents of America doen’t believe that President Obama was born in the United States, believing their own ‘facts’ instead there as well. A sizeable minority in some parts of the world believe in the ‘fact’ that without female genital mutilation women will have trouble finding a husband.

          The day I stop referring to unfounded, magical and similar apocryphal beliefs as myths simply because someone, somewhere, considers them to be ‘fact’ is the day I give up on all science, rational thought, and consequently, humanity as a whole.

      • Tukuturi says:

        See my comment to NotMarvelous below. In a nutshell, it places non-Western ways of knowing into a separate and less valued category than Western ways of knowing to, for instance, refer to Western history as history and non-western history as myth.

        • SanguineAngel says:

          Surely Western history is referred to as history and non-Western history is referred to as history but Western mythology is referred to as mythology and non-Western mythology is referred to as mythology?

          • Tukuturi says:

            Except that what gets called non-Western mythology is actually the living cultural traditions and histories of living peoples.

          • Tukuturi says:

            You wouldn’t typically refer to stories from the Christian Bible as myths unless you were attempting to antagonize or devalue Christian belief in some way. The same goes for the various narratives of U.S. or British history. Likewise, you wouldn’t refer to the postulates of Western Science as a mythology unless you were making an anti-scientific argument.

            Take, for instance, an Asháninca narrative about how people came to be in the world. To many Asháninca people, such a narrative is historical as well as ideological. It represents a particular way of looking at the world. By calling it a myth, you devalue it. You place that Asháninca in the conceptual realm of the dead past at best, and of a fantasy at worst.

            Now it’s one thing to use this kind of rhetoric with regard to Western beliefs. It is another thing entirely to use them with regard to the traditions of Native/Indigenous/First Nations peoples in the Americas. These are peoples who have been and in many ways still are actively colonized by European settlers. Referring to their histories, their religions, their very ways of being in the world as mythologies is a way of furthering that colonization, particularly when it is perpetuated through popular mass media as is the case here.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            “You wouldn’t typically refer to stories from the Christian Bible as myths…”

            I would and do.

            “…unless you were attempting to antagonize or devalue Christian belief in some way.”

            No. I call them myths for the same reason I call a bicycle a bicycle.

            “The same goes for the various narratives of U.S. or British history.”

            Unless you’re saying that a girl climbing an endless tower to defeat the sun actually happened somewhere in the history of what we now call Brazil, this is just a very strange bait-and-switch.

            It’s just as reasonable to say that you’re degrading the power and usefulness of myths and stories. I’m not sure it’s so widely accepted as you think that the term “myth” is derogatory.

    • Not Marvelous says:

      The word “myth” being derogatory? The first time I heard of this (speaking as someone who, unfortunately, has an anthropology degree).

      • Not Marvelous says:

        That is to say I am positive the term is used indiscriminately by anthropologists, not that it makes me somehow able to decide which terms are derogatory and which are not.


        damn that degree.

      • Tukuturi says:

        I am an anthropologist (archaeologist) who specifically works with Native North American traditional histories. You may find some older anthropologist who still uses the term in that context, but it certainly isn’t a norm in the discipline. The term myth, in colloquial sense, implies something that is not real or is less valuable than Western scientific knowledge. As in the colloquialism, “That’s just a myth.” For that reason, it is seen to devalue traditional knowledge systems and is generally considered derogatory by Native peoples themselves. As someone of primarily Euroamerican descent I’m not inclined to argue with the peoples whose history it is about what that history should be called.

        To give some perspective, it’s kind of like going to a powwow and calling someone’s regalia a costume. You just don’t do it.

        • Rikard Peterson says:

          I’m not in the field, but shouldn’t the distinction be whether it’s a belief system in use or not? I mean, surely nobody* would object to calling the old Norse (Odin and co.) and Greek (Zeus and friends) myths (to pick two well-known western examples), but when people use that term in reference to, for example, the bible, they’re usually doing it with the intention to offend those who believe it.

          * Well, there’ll always be *someone*, if you look hard enough, but I don’t think you can find many who believe those tales to be true.

          • Tukuturi says:

            That pretty well sums it up.

          • ChrisGWaine says:

            But it’s wrong to say that someone would only talk about Christian mythology with an intent to offend. It should even be possible to find Christian priests who are comfortable with talking about the Bible as including myth.

          • ChrisGWaine says:

            Er, or even usually with such an intent.

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            SuddenSight says:

            I disagree on the academic usage of the word Myth. I only took a couple classes that discussed world religions, but they happily applied to word “myth” to any kind of religious story, true or not. In fact, my professors were often quick to draw the parallels between Norse myths, Christian myths, and even “Science myths” (Newton and the apple, for a false one, or Einstein and God’s dice, for a true one). I know many professors try to avoid the term because of its negative connotations, but there isn’t a good replacement for it in English. The only way to avoid it is to use clunky phrases like “origin story” that still don’t sound great. Wikipedia has a pretty good section on the controversy in their “Religion and Mythology” article.

            Academics aside, the use of “myth” in popular culture has long been derogatory. Whether I think it is appropriate to use in an academic context, it probably isn’t appropriate to use when describing modern belief systems in the news.

            Furthermore, this story seems especially egregious because the devs make no mention of an indigenous source for the stories.

          • Tukuturi says:

            ChrisGWaine, the problem with your scenario is that the priest referring to Christian narratives as myth is a Christian. Imagine that the priest using that terminology is not a Christian but belong to some other social group. Now imagine that the social group the priest belongs to has colonized Christians, stolen their land, decimated their population through both unintentional consequences of colonialism and intentional acts of aggression, and continues to repress both Christian views and Christian political power within the larger society that both groups are now, for better or worse, a part of. At that point, the word myth takes on decidedly different connotations.

            By way of example, I spoke at a conference not long ago that included both Euroamerican anthropologists and Native cultural experts. In my talk, I was very careful not to use the word “story” when referring to a particular narrative. To do so from my position would have been to devalue a whole worldview, and it would have likely offended many of those present. One of the Native speakers referenced a different version of the same narrative, and he used the word “story.” Coming from him, it didn’t have the same connotation, and I don’t think it was offensive to anyone there. After having worked at carefully omitting the word from my talk, it made me chuckle a bit to hear him say it, but it’s important to understand how the positionality of the speaker changes the context of a word like that.

            As for replacement terms, narrative and tradition are both pretty good. Traditional narrative works if you aren’t into the whole brevity thing.

          • jonahcutter says:

            No it shouldn’t.

            Mythology believed in by many is no more true than mythology believed in by few (or none). Supernatural claims are supernatural claims, regardless of how many choose to believe in them.

            In open debate there’s absolutely no need to leave room any of supernatural claims, or tip-toe around any who choose to believe in them.

            Day-to-day life obviously depends on the circumstances.

          • Tukuturi says:

            Jonahcutter, How are you determining what is natural vs. supernatural? If you are doing so scientifically, you are doing so within a particular culturally constituted epistemological framework. The assumption that this particular epsitemological framework, in this case that of the colonizer vs. that of the colonized, is superior or otherwise should be privileged, is precisely the problem being discussed. Scientific ways of knowing should absolutely be privileged in a scientific debate, but this is not a scientific debate.

          • jonahcutter says:

            Tukuturi,

            You attempted to introduce the concept of a colonizer/colonized framework. No one else need be bound by your assumed framework.

            If the author wishes to refer to mythology as mythology, that is their prerogative. Under these circumstances it’s neither rude nor insulting for them to do so, regardless of who may choose to take offense.

          • AngoraFish says:

            tl;dr. To summarise this thread:

            Some Christians don’t like to have their religion described as a ‘myth’. Some Western-based academics are sensitive to describing the dominant system of mythology in Western countries as a ‘myth’ for fear of giving offence. Ergo, we should stop referring to any significant belief system anywhere as a ‘myth’ in order to avoid offense, no matter how disconnected that belief system is from scientifically verifiable truth.

            Or we could just call a ‘myth’ a ‘myth’, regardless of whether it is being perpetuated by Western Christians or anyone else.

          • Tukuturi says:

            Okay. I’m sorry that this turned into a weird internet atheism thing. I was just trying to say that lots of Native folks I know don’t like to have their traditions derided as myths, and that it’s important to be sensitive to that because they were and are in many cases still colonized. Speaking as a (social) scientist, it really doesn’t have anything to do with science.

          • jonahcutter says:

            Tukuturi,

            Something to ponder:

            ““If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.”

            -14th Dalai Lama

            And the Tibetans certainly know well of being subjugated by outside powers.

          • Not Marvelous says:

            OK, this totally wasn’t about atheism, but rest assured the internet atheist brigade will turn up and twist things around.

            Anyway, thanks for the input, Tukuturi.

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            I’m genuinely fascinated by your perspective Tukuturi, and I’m glad you brought it out to talk about today. Thank you.

  6. edwardh says:

    Hm… I have to disagree on the overall judgment of it being “beautiful”.
    At least based on the trailer, I’d say that the animations are amazing. But the rest… like it has been said before – models and textures are often last-gen and maybe even last-last-gen. And in this case, I find that it very much correlates to the art style. Meaning – take e.g. the recently release Invisible Inc.. Detailed models are not needed to make that art style look good. But in case of Toren, in my opinion it’s not stylized enough to get away with the lo-fi.
    Still… if enough people say that the gameplay is great, I might give it a shot.

  7. Spiritgate says:

    as someone who haven’t played the game, but is brazilian nonetheless, i feel like i should note that there’s no possibility whatsoever for ancient brazilian myths to ever exist, since brazilian, as an national identity and as a concept, has no more than two hundred years, and was born of a very intentional effort to give meaning to our very fragmented colonial history, with some limited degree of success.