I first discovered Toribash about 2 years ago and I have loved it ever since. The game has gone through some changes since then (and even more since it was first released back in 2006) but the basic framework remains untouched and even after two years I still find myself firing up this little known indy gamin gem a few times a week. It’s rare that I would use words like elegance to describe a video game, but Toribash warrants such language. It is a game that thrives off of innovation and creativity, not only being completely unique in play, but also having more user made content than other games could ever dream of.
Toribash (TB) is first and foremost a fighting game, it is a game you can play with friends (via internet connection, sorry, no LAN) and beat the crap out of each other without the hassles of broken bones and severed ties. What separates TB from the average fighter is that the player has complete control over what their character does. In most fighting games, the player presses a button and triggers a predetermined event, traditionally called a sprite, so if you press the “A” button, you get the kick animation assigned. In TB however, the player is given the choice to apply movement force to any joint of their fighter, meaning no pre-rendered attacks and complete control over the action. It might sound a tad complex at first, and the pace of the gameplay takes some getting used to, but once you get going its one of the funnest free experiences to be had on a PC (and soon on Nintendo Wii for 1000 or so Wii points.)
The game runs in open GL, and with the latest addition of real time ray tracing it appears absolutely stunning with the graphics on high. Each joint on your fighter reflects the world around it, every inch of them is customizable, and even the environment in which the fights take place is left at the hands of the player through pre-set or user made environment shaders. As well as this a player has recently developed a script which allows for three dimensional settings, such as a desert. To run the game at full visuals takes a lot of CPU power however, so most people will have to do regular play with a slightly less pretty version, however recent changes to the basic graphics of the game make this a more aesthetically pleasing option than you might expect.
Before you jump into the game you should know that it has a pretty steep learning curve. For most people, when you first sit down to play it will feel foreign, but the enjoyment soon comes and, with a bit of practice, you will be lobbing off heads and breaking you opponent to pieces with ease. One of the best aspects of the game is that it is layered well so that it can be played casually in online mode with friends, or if perfection is more your cup of soup can be taken to insane heights in singe player mode where the object is to make intricate matches which save as replays. It has the wonderful adage “I moment to learn, a lifetime to master” floating somewhere in its description, and anything like that is normally worth the time.
Another great thing about TB is that you are far from alone when you play. The forums for this game are more lively than any online game I have ever seen save World of Warcraft, but also without as much crap as you get on WoW. On the forums you can find technical help, game play help, a place to share your replays, art, contests, and if you are into that sort of thing you can meet some pretty cool people as well. This (and youtube) is also where you can see just how far this game has been taken in terms of making the characters do whatever you can think of. The most skilled players of this game are capable of really amazing things, and there is even a whole subsect devoted to making movies and artwork for the game.
TB is totally free, unless of course you want to customize your character. The game makes its money selling these customizations, and while I cant recommend shoveling out hundreds of dollars on it, every time you buy something you know you have helped something independent, in affect you help encourage innovation. Toribash was designed and created by one man and a few friends, it has since grown into one of the best kept secrets of computer gaming. Give this one a shot for sure, it takes a bit of patience, but the pay off is a really good time.