The story behind Torn Tales is thin to say the least. An evil storyteller is threatening to wipe out and rewrite the fables of old. Not only that but erasing our favourite fantasy characters to boot. It’s a job that only 3 characters can take and put right. Snow White,Robin Hood and Dr.Jekyll are given the unenviable task of exploring multiple scenario environments and destroying the evil storytellers minions,whilst gaining treasures,items and powers in order to eventually take out the storyteller and save the fables.
If you think that’s ridiculous,then you’d be right! and what clearly rings alarm bells is the story text in a mini storybook that is neither that explanatory or even in proper English!
Naturally,we can tend to excuse the story for interesting and intense gameplay and on first look,everything is well above standard in terms of graphics,character sub menus,enemies and the environment. Ok,it’s PS2 territory of sorts but with a nice little HD kick and although really unclear of where to go and what to do. There’s a decent mini map in the top right corner that entices exploration and is a decent start to proceedings.
Only when you start to move,does the fun begin. Starting off with just two characters you venture to face advancing enemies that come in the form of rats. Defeat those and further on you face more rats,then large spiders,more rats,moving tree people,rats,spiders,rats rats rats !
This would be allowed if you could just stay focused and centred on the oncoming enemies that have no intelligence but to just follow you in numbers until you kill them. Then,there’s the auto target system that locks on the first enemy you meet. This would be all well and good if it wasn’t for the fact that you cannot alter the target until you kill the first one. So many battles involve you going around in circles because enemies a foot in front of you cannot be attacked until you finish whatever target you’re aiming at in a mass of enemy bodies advancing.
Of course,you gain three characters with the other two characters on auto AI whilst you fight. Those other two would be a great help to you if they weren’t intent on “bar brawl”tactics of just diving in and hitting anything until they die !
Yes,you can cycle through the characters in battle and from a sub menu,change the tactical approach for each,like stay back,full attack or a mix of the two,but it doesn’t seem to make the slightest scrap of difference as the screen fills with a mass of bodies.
Initially,as my game involved primarily on Robin Hood,his attacks were equally baffling. For starters I could fire a single arrow from behind me. This would be fine if it wasn’t for the fact I’m running forwards at the time! Then,there’s the switch of attacks that I can’t seem to have any control over. Firing arrows I naturally move away from the enemies then suddenly I’m swinging a sword. So I go up close with sword swinging,then find I’m suddenly firing arrows again !?
Pressing any button but the A button doesn’t remedy this,nor is there any help screen to explain the control buttons.
Not content with just giving you this confusion and lack of help,comes the icing on the cake…the right stick for camera adjustment.
It’s pretty simple as you move your team around the twisting paths of the environment you’re exploring. Right on the stick moves the camera left and left on the stick moves the camera right ??! and there’s the overly sensitive up and down of the stick that zooms in and out. So,with trying to work out the baffling mess in front of you,you’re also constantly wrestling with the camera controls.
If you have the patience of a stone statue or just simply a masochist,you’ll come across various bosses at further points on the map. A giant woodcutter will leap and swing his axe involving deep tactical thinking in just moving out of the way and the big bad wolf a particular problem towards the end of the first map.
Like a giant werewolf,this boss will attack and at points,suddenly stop and howl to summon several wolf minions to attack you. This howl automatically scares your team and sends each member of your team running away across the screen (yes,this game accommodates joycon drift!) which of course leads to calamity because (yes you’ve guessed it!) you’re already locked onto the big bad wolf and constantly running around in circles because you can’t attack the minions chasing you. Reliance on your other members is down to chance and blind luck,because there’s a good chance they’re already dead!
Even with a dead member,there’s no evidence of health potions to revitalise them,only the save points scattered around each level that can automatically save whilst you’re in their proximity or you need to go up to them and press A. Why they do that is beyond me?!
Still,if you’re lucky enough to complete the map without ripping your hair out.There’s various large chests that carry a treasure item that can be equipped and specific to a key member of your team. These gain special abilities aside from Jekyll turning into Hyde swinging his arms and Snow White throwing large apple projectiles,so I’m guessing there’s a time that these abilities are powerful and useful. Unfortunately,I’ve yet to tell any difference with equipping special items or levelling up characters or allocating the skill points you earn to fill up a skill tree for each member.
Then you proceed to the next level for more rats,spiders and tree people in an environment with little difference from the first one.
In summary,there’s very little to recommend this title with no recollection of the positives.
Torn Tales,Torn combat,Torn gameplay,Torn Camera!
Thanks to Silesia Games/Chilled Mouse for the code.