Torin's Passage

aka: Mas'otav shel Torin, Stranstvija Torina
Moby ID: 1228
Windows Specs

Description official descriptions

Torin is a young boy who lives in a little country house on a planet called Strata with his parents and with his purple cat-like friend Boogle. One day he returns home, only to find out his parents were imprisoned in a magical spell. Apparently, the spell was cast by a sorceress named Lycentia. He must now travel to distant lands to find a way to remove the spell and confront the sorceress. What he doesn't know is that this journey will also help him to discover his true origins and his true purpose in life...

Created by Al Lowe of Leisure Suit Larry fame, Torin's Passage is a fairy tale-like humorous adventure with cartoon-style graphics and animations. Torin interacts with characters and objects in a point-and-click fashion, and can also use Boogle's special shape-shifting abilities. During their journey, Boogle will learn how to turn into a variety of objects, which is essential for solving many of the game's puzzles. The game also has many traditional inventory-based tasks as well as other types of puzzles. To facilitate the puzzle-solving, the game has a built-in hint system; using the hints will deduce points from the player's score.

Spellings

  • Странствия Торина - Russian spelling
  • מסעותיו של טורין - Hebrew spelling

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Credits (DOS version)

123 People (112 developers, 11 thanks) · View all

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 78% (based on 18 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 71 ratings with 5 reviews)

Al Lowe's cartoon adventure game, made in the dying days of Sierra

The Good
Torin's Passage was created by Al Lowe, an employee at Sierra On-Line who was also the brainchild of Leisure Suit Larry, Freddy Pharkas, and various children's title, most of which involved Disney characters. Al took inspiration from "Mrs. Doubtfire" as well as Disney animation films of the same era. The game takes place on Strata, a planet that consists of five worlds, one within the other. Torin, a farmhand from the Lands Above, is sent on an errand by his parents to get something for them. While walking down the path that leads into town, he looks back at his parent's house, just in time to see someone imprison them in green jello and then whisked away.

A mysterious cloaked figure tells Torin that a sorceress named Lycentia has imprisoned them somewhere in the Lands Below. This is the same person who killed his real parents by unleashing poisonous snakes onto them. And so, Torin needs to travel between worlds, hoping that everyone he meets will help him reach the Lands Below so that he can deal with Lycentia. Accompanying him is his pet Boogle. capable of transforming himself into objects that he comes across.

Torin spends most of his journey doing stuff and talking to strange characters that he meets along the way, mainly asking them where Lycentia is. Each of the five worlds Torin must navigate through is laced with puzzles that need to be solved if he wants to reach the next. Some of the puzzles include preparing dinner for the town guard, finding some way to get the nine tiles needed to reach Pergola, putting the correct weights into a catapult so that it throws you onto a piece of land that can't be reached by foot, and navigating a series of platforms correctly without falling in lava. The puzzles are not that hard to solve if you know what you are doing.

The game's interface is quite unique, with two sets of inventory; one for Torin and the other for Boogle. Both the items and shapes can be moved around, and can be placed on a scanning platform in the center to bring the item up on screen, where it rotates. Controls underneath allow you to stop the rotation or advance or go back a frame. You can get hints by clicking the question mark on the right hand side of the interface. But hints are timed, and you lose points every time you use them. Finally, the book on the left allows you to open up to previous dialogue.

Torin's Passage uses the same hand-drawn graphics that were present in King's Quest VII, and the character animations are quite smooth. When you see the screen naming each chapter (eg: this one), you will see the planet deteriorated to reflect what world Torin is on, and this is a nice touch. The music is composed by Michel Legrand who did the score for the 1968 film “The Thomas Crown Affair”. Torin's Passage was the only computer game he ever worked on, and out of all the pieces, the music for each scene involving the phenocryst is the best in the game.

Torin's Passage is a humorous adventure game, mimicking the same humor found in the LSL games. In my opinion, the best jokes are found in the last chapter. I like how the silkworms get a reaction whenever you point the mouse cursor at any one of them, reminding me of that pirates' rats in The Secret of Monkey Island. I also like the “Scooby-Doo” reference at the start of that world.



The Bad
In other games that were made by Al Lowe, those that still used the point-and-click interface, clicking any of the icons would generate a humorous response from the narrator, regardless of how stupid your action was. That luxury was removed in Torin's Passage and replaced with a simplistic interface that literally guides you through the game.

There is a feature that allows you to turn on automatic scrolling. If you head left or right through a location that takes up more than one screen, Torin will keep walking until the last screen and then continue on to the next location. I found this annoying because I was used to having my character stop at every screen he comes across, and Torin just walking on means that I have to stop him by clicking on something on the screen I need to interact with.

Torin's Passage has a nasty bug where the game kicks you out with an “Error 47” if you try to save a game, and the only way you can prevent this from happening is to copy some files in the same directory where the game is installed. This is an early example of companies releasing crippled versions of their games and then letting users apply patches to them that will get rid of these bugs. Maybe there is a reason why you can start at any chapter straight away.

The Bottom Line
Torin's Passage is a game designed for everyone, but especially for kids, and features a storyline that is quite like those in many children's movies, and has a secondary character that can help you in your quest. The game features nice graphics and sound, which is consistent to later Sierra games. It also features such a bizarre interface that contain gadgets that may or may not be of use to you. Since Al Lowe created Torin's Passage, you can also expect some humor added to the mix.

The game was going to be the first in the series, with subsequent games focusing on the relationship between Torin and Leena. Unfortunately, Sierra was on the verge of bankruptcy and the sequels had to be scrapped. If the sequels were made after all, I would assume that one of the games would include 3-D graphics, in the same vein as Gabriel Knight 3 and what will that same game be about? We'll probably never know...

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43093) · 2017

Al Lowe Humor, Family Style

The Good
It's a fun adventure game with some pretty good puzzles. Your shapeshifting sidekick, Boozle, was a good sidekick, although his puzzle potential was underused. The humor is typical Al Lowe material (but with less sex), so you can interpret that however you want to. The music from the game was particularly memorable.

The Bad
The plot was your standard fare, so not much was left to the imagination.

The Bottom Line
A fun adventure game that the whole family can play together.

Windows · by Adam Baratz (1433) · 2000

Kids and adults need more options

The Good
Torin's Passage was produced by Sierra during that strange time period where technology was skyrocketing and gameplay was in crisis. At that time they were seemingly focusing more on visual presentation and exploiting the new multimedia possibilities than anything else.

Indeed, in terms of presentation and visual artistry, Torin's Passage is a quality product. The entire game looks and feels very much like a Disney cartoon, complete with lovingly designed backgrounds, contrasting colors, very pleasant music, and excellent animation. The latter must be the game's greatest appeal. Almost everything you do in the game is displayed as a snippet of cartoon animation. Sometimes it is used for comical effects (exaggerated reactions, funny jumps, etc), but even simply controlling the hero and watching him happily saunter around with his purple pet is a joy. All this is complemented by very good voice acting.

The gameplay has its bright sides. In fact, the designers really did a good work with the meager means they had at their disposal: there is only so much you can do when you are forced to interact with the game world with a pitiful cursor and a few hotspots. There is decent variety in the puzzles: while inventory-based tasks are pretty tame - to the point of being elementary actions performed when the game hardly gives you any choice - the stand-alone puzzles are pretty good. The head-assembling in the second chapter or the leprechaun-conducting in the next one are among the better examples. Also, the idea of using your pet as various tools needed for specific tasks is great; it is a pity it was so blatantly underused.

The humor is mostly a mixed bag. Frankly, I expected more from the creator of Leisure Suit Larry; but I understand this game was conceived as a children's product, so they couldn't make any adult jokes. Then again, it is a bit too sophisticated for kids, some of the humorous situations being much more suitable for an average teenage audience - which, naturally, could have also enjoyed a slightly more mature style. As it is, Torin's Passage is neither innocent enough to charm us, nor humorous enough to make us laugh. That said, I did like some of the jokes, characters, and situations in the game; I just think they could have done more with them.

The Bad
Unfortunately, Torin's Passage suffers from the very same disease that plagued King's Quest VII: simplification. The very same company that first combined text input with third-person navigation, and later developed a wonderful icon-based interface, decided to throw it all out of the window and replace interaction with a "smart cursor", read: the death sentence to adventure games.

The gameplay process is thus mostly reduced to clicking on hotspots until something happens. Granted, there are puzzles, but they are nowhere as challenging and as interconnected as in, say, Myst, which could get away with lack of interactivity thanks to the sheer complexity of its mechanical tasks. There is so little experimentation involved that much of the experience feels almost on-rails, your progress being impeded only by occasional obtuse task or low pixel-hunting skills.

These gameplay-related deficiencies undermine the game's value as a comedy as well. Much of the classic Sierra humor came courtesy of game interfaces, which allowed experimentation with the environment leading to all sorts of amusing text feedback. Here, all we have are scripted jokes; some of them are funny, while others are less so. The point is, even the funniest jokes lose much of their value when they are forced down our throats in a game, instead of being subtly integrated into the gameplay process. Case in point: the TV sitcom in the second chapter, a veritable gold mine for humor, is reduced to a harmless gimmick with a few scripted sentences; the entire set is non-interactive, which means that the player is not allowed to trigger any humorous comments by himself.

Another problem of Torin's Passage is its unbalanced structure. First of all, I don't understand why they let players start from any chapter. This kills the suspense and turns into legitimate cheating when you know you are near a chapter's end and just want to jump to the next one without wrecking your brains over the final puzzle. Second, the chapters themselves are very uneven in size and quality. Only the second chapter has a more or less open structure; the others take place in small, confined areas with little to do. The third chapter, for example, is just a series of fairly contrived puzzles without any exploration whatsoever.

The Bottom Line
Torin's Passage is a nice game, but the way it cuts down interactivity and exploration is a symptom of an alarming simplification process Sierra took part in those days. For a much more fulfilling example of a cartoon adventure by that venerable developer, try Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail.

DOS · by Unicorn Lynx (181794) · 2015

[ View all 5 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Cover art mix-up Sciere (920527) May 18, 2007

Trivia

Al Lowe's daughter designed the maze puzzle in the volcano area.

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  • MobyGames ID: 1228
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Derrick 'Knight' Steele.

Macintosh added by MegamanX64.

Additional contributors: Adam Baratz, Unicorn Lynx, Jeanne, Solid Flamingo.

Game added March 29, 2000. Last modified January 23, 2024.