09/05/2017

☆ Review: Torn Tales - "What Do You Get When You Cross Robin Hood, Snow White and Dr Jekyll?" ☆

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Torn Tales - PC
Torn Tales is an isometric action RPG from Twistplay, a British developer.
In Torn Tales, you play as three characters taken from Folklore and Fairy Tales; Robin Hood, Snow White and Dr Jekyll / Mr Hyde who have banded together to repair the torn pages of folklore.


The introduction sets the scene with a story-book style premise complete with a narrator explaining the story, changing his voice to represent each character, which is effective and oddly unsettling. I began the game with high expectations after watching this sequence however the strong introduction unfortunately quickly gives way to shallow, unrewarding gameplay.
The three playable characters within Torn Tales are well-known to most people and each character also has a very different style and setting (at least within their own lore). It is a shame then, that Torn Tales does nothing with this.

During the game, the characters don’t speak at all except in cut scenes, even then using the narrator as a conduit and so we never get any sort of emotional involvement in them and so they instantly seem like stock characters bereft of personality. Snow White is a ranged sorceress, Robin Hood is primarily an archer and Dr Jekyll is a melee combatant. The Game takes place mostly outside as the characters are unable to enter buildings.



This, combined with the mostly linear layout of the levels (the occasional branching path leads to either a dead end or a chest within a few seconds) and the almost automated feel of the battles in the game leave you as a player feeling very passive in regard to what takes place on screen.
The music starts off strong with a rousing orchestral score but this grows quickly tiring as it is three minutes long and loops constantly throughout the levels. After a while, I turned the music off and it dawned on me how weak the sound effects in the game were. Apart from gentle walking sounds, there are no incidental sounds of nature of any sort and so the pedestrian sounds are only punctuated by the grunts and squeals of the enemy which brings me on to the gameplay of Torn Tales and unfortunately this is the area in which it suffers the most.
Within several minutes of playing Torn Tales, it dawned on me how little I was involved as a player. The game is mostly controlled by the left mouse button (the right mouse button only being used to change the style of attack for the character which is rarely needed, the choices are – aggressive, guarded, evasive) and for several hours all I did was hold the mouse button down to follow the path ahead until I came to a group of rats or soldiers and then I would literally do nothing.

This is no exaggeration; in fact, I took most of my notes for this review during the battle sequences in the game. Whenever I would approach a horde of enemies, I would ALT-TAB out of the game to my Word document and make notes until the battle sounds had ceased and then go back to walking towards the next group of enemies.

The difficulty curve in the game seems very strangely misjudged in that the early scenes are incredibly easy and at the beginning of chapter two I was instantly killed by toads that exploded when defeated and so I simply had to wait until the toads began travelling towards me and I would then walk slowly backwards whilst automatically attacking.

Even if one or two of your characters die, you simply have to walk back to the nearest ‘save’ pedestal (which are pretty common) to resurrect your partners and then it’s a case of backtracking to where you were and carrying on so there’s no real danger of losing any progress.
The graphics are probably the games’ strongest asset, they are sharp, clear and very distinct. The issue is the lack of variety on offer, I walked past graveyards, villages and ruins, none of which I could enter or even fully explore due to the linearity of the map.

There are no side quests to speak of (more on this later) and so the only draw in the game is to keep moving forwards to the boss. The bosses are other recognisable fairy tale characters and it does break up the monotony of the stock enemies when you face them (the bosses are represented by a ram’s head on the mini-map) the first boss encounter is the Huntsmen within Sherwood Forest and others include the Big Bad Wolf and the Sherriff of Nottingham etc.



Whilst it is fun to battle them as they present more of a challenge, due to the complete lack of any speech or even text from them, their motivations are unclear and they seem arbitrary, rushing towards the player and attacking the moment that they are in view
The loot in the game comes in the form of rings and amulets discovered in chests, whilst these are decent, there, unfortunately, aren’t any new weapons or clothes/armour to be found and so it feels like no changes are taking place with your character as they level up as they always look as they did at the start of the game. This may seem trivial but due to the repetition of the game play, this would have been some welcomed variation.
There are also unlockable skills that your characters achieve as they level up, these skills are in keeping with their character such as a poison apple bomb for Snow White or an injected health elixir for Dr Jekyll which are a nice touch but sadly doesn’t offer enough variety to make the game exciting or give you’re the urge to continue levelling up to see what other skills you can unlock.
As mentioned previously, there is an issue in the game with regards to side quests. I was surprised that during the main levels there were no NPCs of any sort to offer me optional quests, but when I saw the main level select screen I realised that there are compulsory quests that have to be completed to keep the story moving forward, however, these are labelled as ‘side quests’ which seem strange as they differ in no way from the main quests and cannot be avoided or skipped.



Summary:
In summary, Torn Tales may be suitable for casual gamers but it’s difficult to recommend for anyone who has played this style of game before as there are so much more on offer with more depth. 

Torn Tales as it currently stands would maybe benefit more from being a mobile game due to its style of game play. That is, with minimal interaction and simplistic game play.
This is one fairy tale I’ll be happy to close the book on.
RATING: MELTED

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Just Falls Short Of Greatness)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Game Link: Steam
Dev Link: TwistPlay













Reviewed By Britt
(from @kingdomofcarts)