Torn Away Review
(Disclaimer: This game includes graphic images of victims of the war crimes of World War II. we are concluding this review of the demo with as much respect and understanding as possible. We consider this game to have mature content and should be played with an understanding of the events portrayed in it, respect for the family and friends of the victims along with the victims themselves, and discretion towards images of those victims who did not find peace in their earthly bodies. Though the events in this game are inspired and related to real-life events, there is mention of it directly being based on the life of someone who lived through World War II. Please continue to read this review and consider this game for your library thank you.)
Torn Away thoughts:
I was recommended Torn Away by a colleague and when he described it to me he mentioned that this was a World War II-based story that could potentially be right up my alley. Now, I didn’t think much of it, being that I have played several war-era games in my time (not just Call of Duty), but I did not expect a game that would be thrilling and touching all at the same time. For a demo, I will say, early 2023 could not come around soon enough.
This indie game from the small Moscow-based developer Perelesoq follows the story of Asya, a 10-year-old girl in Germany who finds herself in the middle of World War II. Her life is to be turned upside down now, as she is escaped becoming another one of the nameless and faceless concentration camp workers (Ostrabeiter). She manages a successful escape but her journey doesn’t end there. It is up to you, the player, to make your way across Europe as Asya and reach freedom in the middle of the bloodiest war in human history. You have to sneak past soldiers, trudge through the treacherous German countryside, and hold on to the last bit of hope you have to not give up and accept the painfully cruel fate of those taken during the war.
I want to talk about this game as earnestly as possible. I played this game on stream and I went in with as many high expectations as I could considering the game topic. I, as many know, am a fan of indie side scrollers, especially those with deep and complex stories to tell. This one, Torn Away, took me by surprise. Upon launching the game, I was pleasantly surprised to find a similar animation style to a TellTale game, with a beautiful blocky 2D art style. The colors are reminiscent of watercolor art, blending in a way that makes it come off as a memory. The next thing to surprise me was that this game is VOICE-ACTED! so rarely do we get voice-acted games, especially in the indie market and it’s so relieving to see a game get so much love
and meticulous care in its development.
As my stream and I moved forward through the game, we found ourselves pushing through several feet of snow, weaving through a barren cold forest. Following a white hare, I couldn’t help but think about Alice and her journey to Wonderland. Often times with games like these where you play a young child trying to make their way through a world where they don’t understand what is going on I think of characters like Alice or like Wendy and her siblings. They created a world of magic to suppress the horrors that were happening around them. I saw this in games like Little Miss Fortune, Fran Bow, and the previously indie arguably psychological Five Nights at Freddy’s. The thought of the irreparable mental damage of a small child going through these events and above all the innocence that Asya brings to this game with her interactions with Comrade Mitten made me feel sympathy, being that empathy doesn’t feel like a proper emotion considering I myself haven’t been through something as traumatic and bone-chilling as a major world war and the mass killing of people across a continent. I kept mentioning how this game could be eye-opening and even rub shoulders with some of the biggest titles in the indie game world if done well.
I have a few theories on how the rest of the game will pan out at release. First, I can see it being a multi-ending game. Maybe not so much one with achievements for reaching said endings but the kind coming from having the ability to escape or not. I can see us seeing more of Asya’s past and family backstory pre-war, seen in promotional images and the game trailer (accessible on Steam). I wonder if more escapees will be met along the way and if they will play a crucial part in whether or not we get to escape the camp and soldiers. I also wanna know more about Comrade Mitten; who is he? where did he come from? and can he be trusted? would he play the same role as the narrator from Little Miss Fortune where we question how reliable he is and whether or not he has our best interest at heart or if he is truly a figment of the trauma, maybe a way for Fate to bring Asya “home”.
This story is going to be one talked about across the indie community, I’m calling it now. Asya and her story will bring around an awareness of the world that we so often forget was real. She will give a voice to those who lose it when the events of the mid to late 40s are denied and “disproved”. The full release cannot come sooner, and with the holidays around the corner, I know that this game needs to be added to as many wishlists as possible. I as the resident hobbit give this demo 4 mushrooms out of 5. Looking forward to seeing what else Perelesoq has in store and where they will take us with Torn Away.