TorqueL Review

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Title: TorqueL
Developer: Active Gaming Media
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 754 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

If you look in the indie world, you’ll find a lot of platforming games there.  I can already think of a ton of them I’ve reviewed on this site.  For starters, I can think of Element4l and Nihilumbra.  The thing about this genre is that it’s been around forever.  The NES was full of them back in the 1980s, so the developers of today can’t just make a platformer.  They have to develop it and make it unique, unlike other platformers to grab attention.  You could play a game like Blue Beacon, which is an obvious clone of the original Super Mario Bros, but it’s not unique enough to set itself aside.

Every platforming indie I’ve reviewed on the Vita is unique in its own way.  Element4l was unique in allowing your character to transform to use physics to get from one area to another.  This was unique that it involved physics as well as elements found in nature in the real world, like heavy rocks or light bubbles.  With things going forward, I have some coverage for a very unique platforming game that released not too long ago.  Here is my official review of TorqueL!

Story

Due to this game not having a storyline, this section shall remain blank.

Gameplay

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TorqueL, as I said before, is a platforming game.  You’re set on one side of a stage and your goal is to tumble your square-surrounded person over to the other end of the stage, where the goal is.  It’s a pretty simple premise, though the game’s unique trait makes this far from easy.  The game uses physics, like many platforming games do, but it does it in a completely different way than others that will make you scratch your head for the first hour or so of the game.

The gist of the game is that you have obstacles in your way.  These can range from lava pits to moving platforms to leaning platforms that move depending on where you are on top of them.  To get over to them, you roll your square over the stage and use the face button to extend rectangular arms outward to propel, push, and tilt your way around the stage.

This is tricky, because there’s a bit of a learning curve.  When you tap one of the face buttons, the adjacent side will extend this arm and you have to use this to make jumps and move around.  You need to learn how to use this, such as launching yourself with the arm at a certain angle when you’re moving, or being able to balance on the arm pointing downward to tilt your way towards the next platform on your journey to your goal.

This is tricky because every bit of this is personal experience.  The controls of the game are shown to you at the beginning of the game, but none of these tricks are.  There never is a tutorial aside from the first few levels not being difficult.  Everything you do must be learned and those times when you’re required to do specific tricks has to be experimented with and learned as you go.  As such, many of the levels will be very confusing until you figure these things out.

Once you do have the tricks learned, the game gets a lot easier and becomes more of a challenging puzzler than a big confusing platformer.  Across the 50 stages of the game, you’ll encounter a multitude of puzzles that you’ll need to think pretty hard about at times.  I began having trouble with the game around Stage 10, so it gets pretty tough at times.  You can’t just run through the game like you know it by heart.  Because of this, the game will probably take you a few hours to beat, at least.  If you know the levels by heart, it’ll take less than 1 hour, but with the learning curve, a few hours would be the bare minimum.

Controls

The game isn’t very tough to control, especially since the controls are shown to you very blatantly at the title screen.  Since it’s a simple platforming game, you don’t need to worry about any tilt or touch features.  You’re only going to be using the buttons to play this game and it’s simple to do so, be it on a Vita or PlayStation TV.

Your basic movements are basically moving and extending the arms.  You move your character with either the D-Pad or the Left Analog Stick.  Extending the arms is done with the face buttons, each associated with a direction.  Triangle is up, Circle is right, X is down, and Square is left.  The character is also color-coded so it’s easy to remember this.

I wouldn’t call the controls hard to use.  They’re quite easy.  The hard part is what I said in the above section about much of the strategies required not being explained to you.

Presentation

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The presentation isn’t bad, but I wouldn’t call it great either.  The best word to put it is Simple.  The game doesn’t really have a lot of background to it, unless you enable “See-Through” mode, and you’ll see whatever your PS Vita’s camera is looking at.  Otherwise, it’s just bare bones drawn models.  The bad part is that when it zooms in at the end of each level, you can clearly see a lot of jagged edges on these 2D forms.

The other thing I can think to mention is the audio.  Every stage has the same background sound playing throughout.  There’s also the fact that music won’t play at all unless you’re moving.  If you stop moving to think about your next move, everything goes silent.  It’s an interesting mechanic, but dead silence without any music isn’t my idea of a good time for thinking in a game.

As far as performance is concerned, everything is good.  The game never lags and the load times are pretty quick.  It was optimized well for the PS Vita.

Summary

TorqueL is a very unique, albeit confusing platformer.  On the downside, much of the knowledge needed for the game isn’t given to you, the presentation is very basic, and the audio cuts out if you stop moving.  Past this is a decent platformer to waste time with, but prepare yourself for the learning curve. 

7/10

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