Torn Away preview (Gamescom)

This year Gamescom didn’t see a lot of major AAA announcements (with a few exceptions), but we did see a lot of interesting indie productions during the week. Today we’re looking back at Torn Away from Perelesoq.

What we know

Torn Away is a game that takes the perspective of child on the events of World War 2 and turns it into a narrative-driven game featuring three distinct gameplay styles. There are platforming sections that will at times present you with small puzzles and short stealth sequences, all presented in a 2D visual style that was inspired by the Gobelins school of art or animation.

At regular intervals, the game will switch to a traditional 2.5D adventure game format as well, allowing you to explore locations, find and use objects and progress the story further – often featuring interactions with your imaginary friend, a sock puppet who symbolizes a connection between protagonist Asya and her father, who was sent off to war but hasn’t been heard from in a long time.

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Asya herself was also sent to a labor camp, and the game follows her as she escapes and tries to find her way “home” again, wherever that may be now. As Asya is only 10 years old her adventure is a non-violent one, but the road to freedom is still full of danger – with the most dramatic moments presented in first person sequences as she wades through a crowd of people or tries to find shelter inside a blizzard. The game is currently in development for a PC release, and was developed in Unity – making a console port possible if the game does well.

What we saw

Appearing during Gamescom with a playable demo on Steam, Torn Away grabbed our attention with its non-violent approach to the gruesome nature of war, something not entirely unlike the well-received This War of Mine did a few years ago.

We played the demo, which features about 20 minutes of gameplay, but also caught up with Artem Koblov, creative director at developer Perelesoq, to find out more about the game. He walked us through the demo prior to our hands on time with it, and was able to answer our questions afterwards as well.

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What we thought

The full game will take about 3 to 4 hours to complete, but the demo already did a good job at showcasing all three elements that will make up the narrative campaign. But where none of the three showed a lot of innovation or cutting edge gameplay in their own right, the sum of their parts lies in the narrative delivery, which promises to be an impactful one.

Asya’s story is a heartbreaking one, but also one filled with hope and a desire to escape the horrors of war. With a story that was inspired by actual letters written by children during wartime, Torn Away is shaping up to be one of those games where the gameplay serves a higher goal of delivering a memorable narrative that leaves an impact behind that goes beyond the game’s mechanics.

With a unique visual style and voiceovers that help tell the story, two important elements to help deliver the narrative are in place, and both have been implemented well if the demo is a sign of what is to come. The next few months will mainly consist of further polish, so we look forward to playing the final product when it’s ready.

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