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Torn Away Review

Torn Away Review

Torn Away is a puzzle game developed by perelesoq and released on the 29th of September. It takes place in Germany and Russia during the late stages of World War II and is viewed from the perspective of a young Russian girl called Asya who was taken to the German work camps.

The game begins on the day Germany declared war on the Soviet Union, with a speech from Stalin about the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (which is the Russian name for WWII). After that, there is a quick cut, and we skip to around three and a half years into the future and inside Germany. Our protagonist, Asya, seems to be in some kind of forest covered in snow. She sees a hare and decides to follow it, but eventually ends up inside a German military base. Trying to sneak through the base, right when she thinks it’s over, soldiers start shooting at her! Running away as quickly as possible, and causing a soldier to fall to his death while doing that, Asya eventually manages to run away but passes out and collapses immediately after. Then, you wake up inside a German work camp, unsure of what had happened. 

It’s unknown when everything took place, and whether what you just experienced was only a dream. The story of the game is a really emotional one overall and not one I would spoil. It captures a lot of the horrors of war and even shows the cruelty of the Nazis towards Jews during the Holocaust. At one point in the game, there’s a scene that shows how all members of a Jewish family — a mother, father, and their little baby — had died while trying to live inside a hut they built in the forest to escape persecution. 

A screenshot of a hannukkia, a jewish religious object hidden inside a cupboard

The artistic choice for how everything looks in Torn Away takes some getting used to. However, once you do get used to the weird 2D sprites and animations moving in a 3D space, it’s not a bother in the slightest, and you can even appreciate it for how it distinguishes the game and makes it feel in line with what the experience is about. The camera does some weird things sometimes, though — there are three distinct modes, all with different gameplay and perspective. The most common is a regular side-scroller, it looks fine and no different than any other side-scrollers. The second is similar but has top-down movement as well, and the perspective feels a little weird. And lastly, there are also 3D first-person scenes. All of these make the experience a lot more interesting and varied, although it can feel a little weird to always switch between them.

When in the side-scrolling mode, the gameplay is pretty basic: do some platforming, solve some simple puzzles, and keep going in the direction you are headed. The top-down mode is mostly enabled when inside rooms and only focuses on the puzzles. Unfortunately, the puzzles aren’t well-designed, and it’s more of a “go around the room mindlessly and find the things you need” than actually solving anything. The first-person sections are mostly just walking and running, but with the visuals and sound accompanying it, even these parts of the game don’t feel boring.

The voice acting for the game comes in two different languages: Russian, which is the original, and English. For most of my playthrough, I stuck with the Russian voice acting and text, as I speak the language. Although testing the English settings I couldn’t find any major problems, the voice acting conveys more emotion in Russian, which is reason enough to pick it over English for me. You can still hear the Russian voices while reading in English and having subtitles, too, so I would recommend setting it to the original language. The music is just fine, without any particular track feeling very good or very bad. It fits the tone of every scene and that’s basically it.

Torn Away has some very significant problems, the worst being how hard it is to see which element in the main menu you are selecting. The game just slightly boldens the text for you and highlights it in the same colour the text is, which doesn’t do very much. That, combined with the lack of a confirmation screen when starting a new game, caused me to accidentally restart my game two times! A confirmation pop-up before starting a new save is a small quality-of-life feature that can save a lot of time for players.

All in all, the game is great, although there are problems that make the experience not as good. From puzzles being very simple and the lack of small quality-of-life features, it’s very straight-forward. I would still absolutely recommend it, just because it’s so emotional and has such amazing messaging that it’s impossible to be negative about it. To put it into perspective, I’m not a religious person, but the part with the Jewish family made me say the most important prayer to Jews out loud because I felt obligated to do it, knowing this could easily have been a real story that happened to a Jewish family during WWII.

8.00/10 8

Torn Away (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

Torn Away is a really impactful experience that is definitely worth playing. It’s not the most interesting gameplay, but the story alone makes it an amazing game that is definitely worth buying.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Ariel Chloe Mann

Ariel Chloe Mann

Staff Writer

Plays too much Counter-Strike 2, unless you count her alternate account then hardly any

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