Yikes. Here’s a tough one to tackle from a moral standpoint. Bullfighting might be rich in tradition and arguably of great historical import to some. It’s also a pretty cruel and awful practice, as Toro explains through its minigames. It’s not just playful jostling with a bull running under a bed sheet, but deliberately angering a terrified beast before sticking a flag into it with a spike and then jabbing a sword into its head. I love me some steak, but this isn’t on.

Toro is a terrible justification for the blood sport. It attempts to teach the rules and phases of a bull fight, leaving the player to feel dirty, rather than attempt to evoke heritage and history (this would still feel gross and dirty, but at least it’d be vaguely educational). Sure, there’s no counting the number of humans I’ve murdered in games just this year, but at least this was in silly fantasy worlds and not a recreation of shows that happen today, presented in an aspirational light.

Moreover though, and more relevant, Toro is a terrible justification for bullfighting because it’s a crap game. Morally justifiable or not, The biggest crime is that money is being charged for digital BS here.

First, it might be obvious at this point, but Toro is most definitely not a looker. Development budget might not have been amazing for this one, but it’s impossible to escape a distinct Playstation one vibe here, and not in a charming retro way either. The sky box appears to have been constructed from one 500×500 JPEG, blown up so it looks grainy and awful. Your distinctly angular fighter, along with the lumpy bull charging him, and indeed the arena and crowd watching on, have around 100 polygons between them and there’s an unintentional comedy to proceedings, especially when the bull enters ‘rage mode’ and the screen undergoes a spinning dissolve into a QTE that glitches halfway through into an eye shattering mess.

This is honestly as thrilling as it gets.

This is honestly as thrilling as it gets.

Getting past the atrocious presentation meanwhile, leads you to an impossibly dull animal baiting and slaying affair. The bull trots out broadly uninterested in you until you press the R1 button to make your pointy troll man mumble ‘oi!’ which suddenly causes it to rush you (in as much as the treacly animation allows for creatures to ‘rush’). You then tap in a button combination to twirl your flag or sheet and let the bull run under it. It turns around and you do it again. You have a grand total of four moves to do as this happens, and the only real challenge is gauging the input lag between hitting the button and your twirl of the red cloth to begin animating. Flag jabbing and skull piercing, the most uncomfortable elements of the whole experience, are dealt with by quick time events, which perhaps adds a layer of distance between you and your animal slaughter, and after a five minute run through these stages of a fight you do it all again with a different beast.

The timing might be trickier as you go further along, but the format remains unchanged. Stand, twirl, stick, stab. There are two abysmal mini games here involving the Bulls getting revenge on a fighter by giving them long distance gores and an excessively twitchy first person endless runner thing, but that’s it. As part of the world’s worst sports mini game collection (‘Animal Cruelty Classics 2016’ between dog fighting and seal clubbing) it’d be lightweight, ill advised and more than a bit rubbish. On its own, honestly asking for money, it’s insulting.

0/4 Pops: Dire
PS4 version tested
Review code supplied by Recotech

About The Author

Gamer, Educator, Writer of Stuff, wrestler of professionals (sometimes)