If there is one thing that is proving to be more popular than the current trend of delaying Vita versions of new releases it is the resurgence of the physics-based puzzle platformer that has been taking place over the last few years.
Torque L adds to an already overloaded genre, but sets out to differ from all other titles that have gone before it with a unique premise that serves as the main mechanic in the game.
Developed by FullPowerSideAttack.com and published by Playism, you start Torque L as a well-dressed man who is trapped inside a box. You can roll in the box, but you cannot jump – meaning that traversing the game’s 50 stages is initially, an impossibility. However, what you will soon learn is that each of the sides of the box in which you are trapped are coloured and mapped to the PlayStation Vita’s face buttons. Pressing the corresponding button will see that side of the box extend, allowing for you to use these elongated sides to assist your movement – utilising both momentum and gravity.
The control setup for the game is simple in premise, but my god is it frustrating when you are trying to navigate through each of the game’s stages. I found myself pushing myself to my death in error when I was attempting to get to the finish line – with all sense of direction thrown out of the window after a few rotations of the square.
The fact that the game challenges you to play against the clock means that these errors will be a frequent occurrence, as the pressure of the timer drives you to press the wrong button on most occasions. My first playthrough of the game took me just under an hour, but that was only because in the end I decided to ignore the timer and just to playthrough at my own leisure in the hope that I would relax and not make as many rash mistakes.
This initial run through of the game only took me through about thirty-two of the fifty stages, and awarded me two trophies – one for completing the game in under 60 minutes and one for beating the ‘L’ route of the game.
Torque L has multiple routes to playthrough to reach the end of the game, and from what I have played the routes are determined in stages that have more than one exit portal. The exits you use in these specific stages will determine what route you go down, but this isn’t explained very well so it appears to be trial and error if you are heading for a specific route to earn a trophy.
These multiple routes do offer longevity to the title, but after I had completed one playthrough I felt that Torque L didn’t offer too much to warrant another playthrough. I guess the chance to play the stages that I missed out on is something but that in itself was not enough to motivate me to jump straight back into the action.
Torque L does feel like a game that is designed to be played at leisure, but the one thing that really aggrieved me was the fact that if you did fail a stage, you had to wait for the fail animation to play out and then the level to reload before you could continue. In a game that aims to be of a fast-paced nature I found this really broke the immersion that the physics-based platformers aim to achieve. I feel that a quick restart option would really have benefited Torque L. By allowing me to get back into the action quickly I feel that I would have enjoyed the game a lot more. But as it stands, making me wait ten seconds each time I died (which on Stage 13 was every 5 seconds) I quickly found myself running out of patience with the game.
Once you do master (in a loose sense of the word) the game, you will find that each of the game’s stages will take around 10-20 seconds to complete. If you think about it, that really isn’t a great deal of time to complete the game – with all endings possible in a couple of hours. There are other titles that have similar shortfalls when it comes to the length of the game, but they offer level creators and editors – something which I feel would add a bit more to Torque L’s overall package. I say this because, at £8.99/€10.99 in Europe, the game is definitely not value for money. In North America the game retails for $6.99, which I feel is a more realistic price for what in essence feels like a PlayStation Mobile title.
Some saving graces for Torque L are the simple visuals and the soundtrack that plays during the game. The visuals are nothing special, but the simplistic look of the game does help as they do not distract from the task at hand. The look of the game is minimalistic, and the soundtrack to the game compliments this perfectly – with the electro-beats matching your every move. The soundtrack is nothing to overpowering, but it does everything that it needs to and fits in with the overall feel of Torque L. The game can also be quite fun when played in short bursts – but this is not going to be a game that you will come back to when you have a few spare minutes.
As you may be able to tell from the paragraphs above, I wasn’t overly impressed with this game. I feel that there are so many opportunities that have been missed that takes away from the potentially strong gameplay elements that the title has. Luckily for us, this version of Torque L does save your progress, with previous versions on other platforms not having this feature and expecting you to complete the game in one sitting – which is a possibility to be fair!
Torque L is a game that has the right idea, just the wrong implementation. At times I found the game to be a chore to play, and when you feel that way about something it is definitely not a good sign. I cannot recommend this game and I feel that in a genre that is swamped with good, cheap titles there is no place for Torque L. I think that our protagonist, the well-dressed gentleman, can stay inside the box he is trapped in and should never be released!