Revisiting Torn in 2020 – mugging, shooting, and a lot of reading

Torn is a text-based MMORPG that can be played in your browser or on mobile, and it’s been around since 2004.  The premise is fairly simple: survive and thrive on the mean streets of a virtual city by any means necessary. Torn‘s execution is what has set it apart from other similar games over the years, helping it grow a massive community and cementing its position as one of the largest text-based MMORPGs in the world.

But what does Torn offer to new players in the Year of the Coronavirus? As someone who’s never played it before, I decided to hop in and find out for myself.

What is Torn like?

Torn is all about winning the rat race by being the biggest, meanest rat. Gameplay mostly revolves around self-improvement and committing violent crime, in that order. There is nothing mandatory in this game, so you can do whatever you want. You have a character, some money and a person giving you missions that you can complete for experience and some extra cash. There is no need to complete them, although they will help you progress much faster in the beginning.

Torn game review

You have a couple of stats: energy, nerve, happiness and HP. You need energy for almost everything you do (going to the gym, searching the dump, etc.). Nerve is spent on crimes, happiness determines how successful you are at committing crimes, and HP is the amount of life  you have left – fighting decreases it, obviously.

As long as you don’t reach zero with these, you can do plenty of things. While on paper there is a lot of freedom of choice, the main things you will focus on will be going to the gym and committing crimes: these two make up most of the gameplay. The gym can increase your dexterity, strength, speed and defense, which is a necessity if you want to fight others – which you do, since PvP is a major aspect of Torn. Committing crimes will be a huge source of your income. In the beginning your job will only earn you up to 250$ a day, which is not much.

All in all your goal is to level up and become powerful by exercising, buying gear and moving upwards on the economical and social ladder.

What is good about Torn?

My favorite thing about it is that there are actual repercussions if you mess up. Way too many games let the player off the hook really easily. If failing in a particular game is inconsequential, succeeding in it has no value. When it comes to Torn, it’s nothing like that. If you get caught stealing something, you end up in jail and you will have to wait a certain amount of time before you can play again – although you have the option to try and get out, or even get busted out by someone else.

Torn game review

Another fact worth mentioning is that for once, you won’t be attacked every 10 minutes. If you have played browser games before then you already know that in games like these most players are out for blood and love to jump on newbies for a little easy experience and money. Because of this, it can get really hard to advance and get anywhere as a new player. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about that here, as most people on the gritty streets of Torn are actually quite friendly and welcoming.

You also have a lot of options as to what to do. You can focus on your ability to commit crimes or fight people, but you can also put all your effort into education and getting a better job. You can even marry someone if you’d like. As long as you have nerve or energy, you will be able to keep yourself occupied, and it never gets boring!

Torn game review

What is bad about Torn?

I only have one complaint, and it’s the same thing that comes up every time I play a browser game like this. There is literally nothing to do once you have spent all your energy and nerve. If you know what you want to do with each resource, then you can do it in under 30 seconds and that’s it. Torn tells you in the beginning that you only need to spend a couple of minutes with the game each day. Unfortunately, that is all you can spend on it. Log in twice within 24 hours and you’re good to go.

There is a pretty good solution to this which I’ve seen in a couple of other text-based RPG games: mini games. They don’t have to require any energy or nerve, and they can increase one of your stats just slightly. That way the player can do a little more for their character, and it’s not a case of just clicking on the site out of habit.

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Heidi Caedere

I'm a writer, and I love to create articles around games. What I love even more is playing the games themselves. League of Legends and Stardew Valley are my jam.
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