Back in the summer of 1995, our family got our first Windows-based computer, an IBM Aptiva running Windows 95. Along with the computer came some free software, including the only type of software that interested a 10-year-old boy: VIDJA GAEMS! I loved playing “Caesar II”, “The Lost Mind of Dr. Brain”, and “Battle Beast”, the game I put the most hours into was “Torin’s Passage”, an underappreciated point-and-click adventure game designed by Al Lowe (of “Leisure Suit Larry” fame) from Sierra On-Line. “Torin’s Passage” holds the distinction of being Lowe’s family-friendly game, a contrast from the adult-oriented “Leisure Suit Larry” titles — which surprised many fans of his work –, as Lowe stated:
“I think many people misunderstood Torin’s Passage, however. It was designed for a parent to share with a child, because I wanted a game that Megan (my then 11-year-old daughter) and I could play together.”
In Torin’s Passage, you play as the lead protagonist, Torin, the son of a farming family on the planet of Strata. Lycentia, an evil sorceress, kidnaps his family with a magic spell and it’s your duty to aid Torin in his journey to find and face her and then free his parents. Torin would then travel to the worlds beneath the planet’s surface through gigantic crystal columns called ‘phenocrysts’, which transfer life-giving sunlight to the lower worlds and its inhabitants with a special powder referred to as “Aerodski”. Accompanying Torin on his quests is a purple cat-like creature named Boogle, who has the ability to shapeshift.
Throughout the game, you interact with Torin and the in-game environments via a point-and-click command interface, allowing him to move, check and pick up items for the inventory system (and be viewed as a 3-dimensional model). The player can also switch to control Boogle to use him to morph into various items, even items to essentially replace the items in Torin’s inventory. Torin’s Passage also has a variety of puzzles ranging from collecting assorted items to sliding puzzles, in which points are awarded upon successfully solving them.