torquel_poster.pngI first saw TorqueL at BitSummit in 2013 and was immediately struck by how very different its player movement system is from that of a standard platformer. Each side of the box that is the player avatar is colored to correspond to the colors of the buttons on an Xbox controller, and pushing the corresponding button makes a bar extend straight out. The player can rotate the box (including any bars extending from it) to move, though a well-timed bar extension can also be used to push or launch the box in whatever direction the player chooses. TorqueL's mechanics are simple enough and the game quickly becomes a matter of mastering its unique mechanics.

The video below does a good job of showing off what to expect in terms of gameplay. Levels which in a regular platformer would be ridiculously easy take some thought, planning, and skill to figure out. The graphics are simple and seem pretty much unchanged from when I first encountered it, though it now has sound as well. The music, which was composed by Noboyushi Sano (Ridge Racer, Tekken), only plays when the player is moving and is different depending on player speed and the direction in which they are rotating.

As I write this, all three of TorqueL's reviews on Steam are negative. They all quote the inability to save progress as the reason for it; the game has 50 stages and no check points or save files of any kind. When I asked developer Nanmo why that is, he said:

"The game is designed such that techniques learned in the beginning stages will be used in the second half. So if someone starts in the middle and has lost the muscle memory for the techniques or forgotten something, the game could become incredibly difficult and that's not my aim. Someone who really learns the techniques won't take a lot of time even if they start from the beginning, and if they've forgotten something, they'll remember. That's what I was thinking while designing it.

"Though I suppose that people who want to quickly clear the game and move on to the next might not get that.

"There are Steam achievements, but the game doesn't save anything and the techniques stay with the player. I believe in the players' techniques."

I would recommend this game for people who like to see new things done with platformers or with established genres in general. I would also recommend it for people who enjoy repetition and skill mastery games. It seems like it would be a good game for speed running.

TorqueL has been available as a digital download for PS4 and PS Vita since the end of December, with the Playism release of the Windows version right on its heels. As of January 22, it's also available via Steam and is currently 10% off its regular $9.99 price to celebrate the Steam launch.