Torn Away by perelesoq is a platforming puzzle game that depicts the story of a young girl being ripped from her home through the carnage of World War II. The topic of war and losing those you love can be difficult to tackle. While this impression only covers the few first hours I’ve played, Torn Away feels like it gives this topic somewhat of a disservice.
Now that’s not to say every part of Torn Away doesn’t respect the events that went on. Playing through the story reveals the experience people had when serving as captured servants for the German army. Torn Away tries to avoid making the entire game sad and depressing, but its efforts result in a more annoying outcome than a lighthearted one. Playing as the young girl, Asya, you are instantly surrounded by chattering imaginary friends. Each one plays their own role as an emotion in Asya’s mind, but it comes to a point in the dialog where these friends feel abnormally sentient. The doll starts talking negatively and blaming Asya for her father leaving to serve in the army. It’s at that moment where the disembodiment of emotion breaks the connection between Asya and her toys. I want Asya to do as she states in the game and get rid of the doll for being so mean and negative.
While the conversation between Asya and her doll isn’t too irregular, the dialog for the mitten becomes separated from thought. Comrade Mitten starts talking about how he was in the front lines with Asya’s dad and other stories of the past. Does the mitten have a history of its own and is reciting it? Or is Asya making it all up in her head? Asya’s and the mitten’s personalities are so dissimilar that they feel like completely different characters, like the mitten and living and talking all by itself.
The dialog in Torn Away is perhaps some of the most annoying that I’ve experienced in a while, which hasn’t changed much since we covered the demo last year. An imaginary friend (mainly the mitten) has to comment on every action you take. You are never left contemplating what you should do next, it is always the mitten that guides you. It feels almost like a war-themed Dora the Explorer with how much needless dialog there is. A small task could’ve been listed as an objective in the top left of the screen instead of mounds of text interrupting your gameplay. Torn Away doesn’t allow the player to think for themselves. If the game removed all mitten dialog I as the player would be able to make my own opinions of the situation at hand. Torn Away would be a little darker as the mitten is the positive force within the game, but it would allow me to experiment and explore the game and its puzzles instead of berating me with the next step.
In summary: Mild gameplay with dialog more depressingly annoying than the sad story Torn Away is trying to recite. I can’t believe how frustrated I’ve gotten over a mitten, but I hope for a better game as I get through it.
Jordan played Torn Away on PC with a review key. Torn Away is also available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch starting September 29th.