A rich, narrative-driven puzzle experience with the right amount weirdness.
When Aspyr Media released the first screenshots for its debut virtual reality (VR) title Torn it was difficult not to be instantly impressed and excited about the upcoming title. Promising a deep storyline and a mansion filled with puzzles, the studio certainly seemed to be offering the kind of dark, fantasy adventure that a lot of gamers love. And for the most part Torn delivers on many levels.
Torn’s story is just as important as its gameplay, with both woven together to create a highly engaging and compelling experience. Dropped right in front of an old decrepit mansion you play video blogger Katherine Patterson who’s out for her next big story. Once the home of Dr. Lawrence Talbot who went missing 64 years prior, things soon start to take a bizarre turn as you meet Talbot, not so much in body, more in spirit.
Talbot asks for your help, and to do so you need to solve a variety of puzzles whilst keeping an eye out for a few moving objects. The mansion is big and very impressive to wander around once you can. The core of the challenges revolve around connecting circuits up that are hidden within the walls, to see them and interact with everything Aspyr Media has created the Gravity Gun.
As the name sort of implies the Gravity Gun enables you to pick items up remotely no matter how large they are. On the underside of certain objects are the connectors for the various wiring looms that exist around the house – there are three sets of circuit looms to solve in each room – from something as mundane as a plate to much larger items like a grandfather clock. Connections can be anywhere, from the ceiling to the floor, which can make each area look increasingly stranger as you start to attach these objects all over the place.
Using the Gravity Gun is very easy, helping make light work of most puzzles. While the challenges are plentiful the actual difficulty curve never becomes that great, in fact it would have been nice if Aspyr Media had dialled up the difficulty a little further. Towards the end of Torn the puzzles do alter offering a welcome change.
After completing each room the story unfolds that little bit more, taking you to an ethereal plain Talbot seems to exist in where he’ll chat away for a while before letting you return. Torn actually features quite a lot of dialogue for a puzzle videogame, possibly a little too much, at points Talbot just needs to shut up. On the plus side, if you are stuck he’ll offer handy hints to get you back on the right path.
That path can become quite littered if you’re not careful as the Gravity Gun’s accuracy could only be described as adequate at distance. This invariably means most rooms become trashed before you leave, thus creating a bit of an obstacle when trying to use smooth locomotion to walk out. There are of course Blink and Dash modes to make things a little more comfortable if you need it.
Torn is a beautiful title to look and showcases a premium level of detail and quality that’s only ever found in a few VR titles. The puzzles themselves maybe on the simple side and the ending is somewhat underwhelming yet that doesn’t detract from the wonderful adventure as a whole, with Torn evoking a charming strangeness that carries you through.