Torment is the spiritual successor of Planescape: Torment, a narrative RPG released in 1999. Brian Fargo from inXile and some of the original developers of Planescape: Torment successfully crowd funded this game via Kickstarter, just like they did with Wasteland 2, in order to bring us a type of RPG that we don’t see very often.
Instead of using the Planescape setting this new game uses the Numenera setting created by Monte Cook, a tabletop RPG that he also was able to crowdfund via kickstarter. Numenera is set on the Ninth World which is Earth a Billion years in the future where the oceans surprisingly have not yet evaporated. It’s called the Ninth World because eight civilizations have already risen and fallen, or maybe left for other planets or dimensions, The inhabitants of the Ninth World, while not advanced themselves take advantage of all the technology left behind by the previous eight civilizations.
Monte Cook designed the Ninth World inspired by a famous Arthur C Clarke law stating that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” and so all the incredibly advanced technology lying around in the Ninth World is seen as if they were magic artifacts. In the Ninth World, a man learned to transfer his consciousness into new bodies created by him, and that way cheat death indefinitely. You are the last body he used. Your consciousness was born when his mind flew your body, you are “The Last Castoff”.
The character creation aspect of the game is somewhat disappointing. The Numenera handbook offers 29 Focus, which is your character specialization, in Torment you only get three, and you only get them later in into the game. You also can’t pick your race so that leaves you with basically choosing three classes. The game itself seems a bit linear, you start your journey right outside a city called Sagus Cliffs and spend several of your first hours there. You have no option to explore the world right at the start. While this game is not big in that kind of exploration, it does have a lot of dialogue, it puts a lot of modern RPGs to shame.
So if you’re looking for a good story and deep dialogue, this is a great game. However, don’t come to this game if you’re looking for a lot of fights. Well, sure, there are “trash mobs” and combat encounters are few and far between. It makes me think that the Glaive class, which focuses on combat skills, won’t be as useful as the other two, the few fights in the game are very tough and almost impossible to overcome by sheer strength, so always look for alternative actions to give you the upper hand, like hacking a console that controls enemy robots instead of fighting all of them.
The quest design is very old-school. As there are no quest markers, pointers or signs on top of the character’s heads to let you know if they have a quest for you, if you want to find out you’ll have to talk to the NPCs, a good way to find objects you can interact is to press TAB. This will highlight interesting objects sometimes you’ll find loot, or even a companion. You find your companions in this game very early on, so you won’t have to go exploring alone, they can help you in combat as well as use their other skills to persuade people or interact with objects.
The way skills like Persuasion or melee weapons work is very interesting. As you can put extra effort into your skill rolls to achieve a 100% chance and that way appeases the RNG gods, but it comes at the cost of draining some of your stats until you get to rest, it’s a very interesting way to approach skill checks, and this design comes straight from the Numenera handbook.
So, what about the visual aspect of the game then? Well, Tides of Numenera shows you how bizarre and colorful the Ninth world can be. As the world is designed to weird you out with all the strange objects you come across. Furthermore, a lot of these objects will remain as some ancient and unknowable technology, simply because you can’t find out what they are all about…And sadly enough, the character design is anything but imaginative. In the matter of fact, the 3D models are average, and their 2D portraits leave a lot to be desired. It’s just a close-up of their faces.
Torment uses Tides to define your character. Instead of alignments like good and evil, the game isn’t really about good versus evil or saving the world. However, NPCs will constantly ask you to help them just like any other RPG. The problem is that my character tides changes constantly from gold, to blue to silver and then back to gold simply by doing some small talk with other characters so it has been truly hard to follow a path and see what happens if you focus on a single tide.
All in all, though, the game favors narrative over mechanics and combat. It’s for those that like a lot of reading a lot in their games and narratively explore a bizarre and appealing world with some interesting characters. It’s a shame that some of the most interesting aspects of the Numenera TTRPG such as the character focus didn’t transfer over to Torment. So only three out of thirty made it.
+ Great narrative experience
+ Innovative mechanics from Numenera
+ Cause and Effect gives us a lot of replay value
– Few combat encounters and very hard
– Not as complex in mechanics as other RPGs
– Promised Kickstarter content was cut
Replay value: 5/5
In overall, inXile ´s “Torment: Tides of Numenera” favors narrative over mechanics and combat. So it’s a game for those who like a lot of reading in their games, and narratively explore a bizarre and fascinating world with some interesting characters.
Title: Torment: Tides of Numenera
Developer: inXile Entertainment
Resolution: Highest possible on PC
Release date: 2017-02-28
Spent time: +15 hours
Average grade internationally: 84.97% Gamerankings.com
PEGI age rating: Mature 17+
Price: 44.99 Euros
Robin Ek – Editor
The copy of this game was paid for by the reviewer.
The Gaming Ground
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