First-person puzzlers are a dime a dozen on PlayStation VR, but they don’t always bring with them a deep or intriguing narrative. Torn, the new sci-fi puzzler from Aspyr, changes that though, with it featuring a genuinely intriguing tale and some truly fascinating sights that’ll really grip you in from the word go.
In Torn, you take on the role of a reporter who uncovers a strange house that belonged to a scientist named Lawrence Talbot. It turns out that Lawrence actually disappeared under somewhat mysterious circumstances a while ago though, and that it may have had something to do with the strange experiments that went on in his house. What do you decide to do? Investigate of course, and perhaps find out the truth about what really went on and what happened to Lawrence Talbot.
It all comes together nicely to make for a mysteriously intriguing tale and one that’s full of mystical elements that’ll genuinely wow the player. I don’t want to go into detail here because of spoilers, but there’s some really fascinating stuff going on throughout the narrative that help it develop into a deep and interesting experience – add to that some great voice-acting and in-depth story-telling and it’s easy to see that the story itself is one of Torn’s best aspects.
You’ll play the game using two Move controllers, with players able to freely move across the environment with a simple press of the face buttons. Stupidly though, you can’t walk backwards which is a bit of pain given that some actions you need to make in the game demand some precision – hopefully, this is something that can be addressed in a future patch because having to turn around, walk a few steps, and turn back around in order to simply go backward is a massive pain.
Aside from that, the controls are decent enough. There’s only click-turning which can be a little jarring, though it’s something you get used to quick and it won’t break your immersion too much. The tracking is on point too, with your hands perfectly replicated with the Move controllers and the Gravity Gun easily controlled. Yes, that’s right – you’ll use a Gravity Gun to solve puzzles in Torn and it’s pretty sweet.
The puzzles themselves are based around manipulating and moving objects in the environment and essentially placing them in the correct spot across a series of circuit-like rooms. They’re all very simplistic in design and don’t demand too much thought from the player, which is a bit of a shame given how intriguing the premise of Torn actually is. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all presented in some well-thought out ways and there’s no denying that each room they’re in looks pretty great, but solving each puzzle always boils down to a simplistic approach that’s very easy to figure out. They could require a bit too much tinkering at times too – sometimes, items wouldn’t recognise properly when placed in the right position, so you’d really have to awkwardly toy around with them in order to progress. It could just become a little frustrating, and whilst I’ll admit I didn’t mind solving the puzzles, I do wish they actually tested me a bit more.
As mentioned though, the puzzles all look the part and certainly made for some attractive sights. That could be said about the whole of Torn though, with it definitely being one of the prettier games you’re going to see on PlayStation VR and one that really pushes the headset’s graphical prowess to its limits. Sure, there are some sketchy textures here and there, but each and every room of the house always feels impressive to explore and is always guaranteed to have at least one fancy little sight to see. The fact that you can pretty much interact with everything around you is great too, and helps further the immersion offered to you whilst playing in virtual reality. It’s just a really pretty game to look at and one that features a world that’s genuinely fascinating to explore.
Torn offers a genuinely intriguing virtual reality sci-fi mystery that’ll hook the player in with its narrative, but it might also let them down slightly thanks to its repetitive and simplistic puzzle design. It’s not that the game’s puzzling is bad by any means, but rather that it doesn’t live up to the fascinating premise and that it forces the player to do a lot of the same things over and over again.
Still, the pros of the experience definitely outweigh the cons, and I was satisfied seeing Torn’s mystery through to its conclusion. It’s an impressive experience throughout, and whilst the puzzles might leave a little more to be desired, the standout narrative and visual presentation are great to the end.
Platform(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift