A very interesting interview was conducted with Toren creator Vitor Leaes by Blane Humphries of Indie Stash Cast, in which Leaes shared information on the game’s story and gameplay. Even more interesting are the experiences he shared, about being an independent video game developer in Brazil.
Toren is the creation of a small, independent studio located in Brazil called Swordtales. Development initially started with a team of four to five people, in 2011, with the basic concept of the story. Soon, with their vision clear, they gained funding from the government via the Cultural Incentive Law, designed by Brazil’s Ministry of Culture, specifically to aid small developers who wish to materialize their creations but lack the resources. In the past, this law would provide funds to teams working in a plethora of artistic departments, such as movie producers, music creators, computer engineers and museums, but recently, video games creators were added to the list. With their resources secured, Swordtales acquired more talent; artists, animators and a second programmer made it onto the team.
But what is Toren?
It’s an action-platformer game with puzzle elements that draws inspiration from some of the most beloved games in the genre: Ico and Shadow of Colossus. Players assume the role of a girl called Moonchild in a colorful, though not lighthearted, world. Trapped in a tall tower called Toren, Moonchild has been struck by a life-reducing curs; to escape the tower, she must reach the highest area. Her attempt will be frequently hindered by a giant dragon, placed in the tower to guard her.
Swordtales attempts to create a type of gameplay defined by plasticity that keeps things changing as the girl grows up; initially simple, as the girl is only a newborn, it shifts to a more action-oriented system as she becomes a teenager, similar to Legend of Zelda games, with the addition of platformer elements inspired by Prince of Persia. The inclusion of symbolism and metaphors in the story and environment is also pronounced. Vitor points to deeper meanings like the tower of Toren symbolizing the biblical Babel and the tree Moonchild will be climbing to reach higher points in the tower being a metaphor for the tree of life. Players with a keen eye will notice symbols on the walls that belong to different religions or mythologies,and the game itself will deal with the subject of solitude.
In the second part of the interview, the Brazilian developer shares interesting insights on how game development has been evolving in Brazil and points to Poland and CD Projekt RED as an example of new cultures finding a place in the global game industry. The metaphor-ridden game is a symbol itself, the product of hard work coming from a small, independent studio with big ideas, carrying the faith and hopes of their country to expand into new areas and send their message across the world.
Toren is the first game developed on PS4 by a Brazilian studio and Swordtales doesn’t want to disappoint the PlayStation nation. The game will run fixed at 60 frames per second. An Xbox One version was considered, but without more programmers, was not feasible.
Look for Toren on PS4 in the first half of 2015.