Virtual reality offers a new and arguably better way to immerse players in new worlds and interesting stories. Torn is one such title that takes inspiration from shows like Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone to create a self-contained science-fiction mystery all in glorious VR.
Does this foray into a detailed and rich world pull you in and offer an unforgettable experience? Or, will you be torn about your feelings for this game by the time it’s finished?
A World That Pulls you in and Never Lets Go
Torn for PlayStation VR is a dark science-fiction game penned by Susan O’Connor who is best known for her work on Tomb Raider and Bioshock. Neill Glancy of Stranglehold fame also lended his writing talents to the proceedings.
The writing and voice talent on display here is immediately apparent in the game’s opening hours. From the moment I first stepped into the mansion, new mysteries and intrigue unfolded all around me. The game does a great job of slowly providing more and more answers as time goes on, but it never quite loses that sense of wonder and awe.
Katherine Patterson is an interesting protagonist, but her dialogue is usually relegated to commentary or opinion. Dr. Talbot is ultimately the star of the show, and his purposeful storytelling really sells the entire world throughout the experience.
His predicament (and ultimately the cause of his disappearance 64 years ago), has to do with the discovery of another dimension known as “The Parallel.” Throughout the journey, you’ll find yourself bouncing back and forth between this place and the mansion itself, which is constantly revealing new and interesting rooms to explore.
Katherine does seem to offer more input as the game goes on, but I would have liked her to be a more active character in Torn, especially given the difference between Dr. Talbot’s time period and the present world.
Despite this, the story in Torn is incredibly well realized. The mansion itself feels like a real place, and Dr. Talbot’s unfolding story always had me interested in what would come next.
All of this is fueled by a very unique puzzle mechanic that sees some evolution over the course of the game but not quite enough to stave off repetition. As you enter each room, you’ll need to look for items that have symbols attached to them.
Using your gravity tool, you’ll pick up and manipulate these items into circuits that span the length of the room and often cover the walls or ceiling as well. By inserting the correct items into the glowing pathways, you’ll eventually active the portal in the room which will allow you to revisit Dr. Talbot and offer him more of his fragmented memories.
These memories are a collectible of sorts that automatically collects when you grab objects where the glowing orbs are hiding. I didn’t find a lot of incentive to track down every orb in every room, but the room portal does signify how many are left should you like to know.
The puzzle mechanic itself is used in several different ways as you progress through the game, with new challenges like connected self-contained circuits within the larger whole, or sockets of various lengths and types that must be plugged in correctly.
It keeps things largely fresh, but there was a span of time where I felt like I was doing the same basic puzzle over and over again in a different setting. That being said, the sheer amount of interactivity is incredible in Torn. Just about every object can be picked up, thrown, manipulated, or otherwise leveraged in your current puzzle.
The controls with PlayStation Move controllers worked great for the most part. I did run into an issue with opening doors where it wouldn’t register until I sat down (I usually played standing), and a few times I got stuck inside of objects, but I was able to fix this by switching to teleportation and moving away.
Smooth movement is here in full force, but the game does have click-turning as the only option currently. It doesn’t bother me too much, but it’s worth mentioning in case you have a preference.
It’s an impressive feat and a very detailed world that I really enjoyed exploring. While this could have easily been a more passive adventure, I applaud the developers for adding in the puzzle elements as they offered a great way to engage with the mansion and all of the things within it.
Excellent Detail and Depth
Torn’s presentation is largely amazing, but if you look at the graphics on PSVR and PC, you’ll notice that console players are working with a less detail and a good amount of aliasing across certain environments.
The outdoor area in the beginning is particularly rough, but once you’re inside the mansion the details are less jagged. Once you’re able to get past some of the rough edges, though, the game’s sheer detail and the wonderful orchestral soundtrack from composer Garry Schyman of Bioshock and Middle Earth: Shadow of War fame, really offer some stellar immersion for the player.
With a great story, a detailed world, and a truly fun and interesting puzzle mechanic, Torn easily ranks up their with my favorites in PlayStation VR. It has a few rough edges, but no tears to worry about. For those who want an immersive and engaging experience, I highly recommend this VR gem.
Final Score: 8.5/10
A copy of Torn was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 10/10/18