Review – Torment: Tides of Numenera
I haven’t played Planescape: Torment, a personal favourite and one of the most beloved roleplaying games (RPG) of all time, in at least 15 years but it felt like I was right back into the game when I fired up Torment: Tides of Numenera – a new release for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Numenera is thematically a successor for Planescape, even if the shift to a new universe prevents it from being called a spiritual sequel. Gamers explore this story-driven RPG from an isometric viewpoint similar to Planescape’s, and the title tilts rather heavily toward exposition more than combat. It’s possible to avoid fights entirely by picking up cues from the conversation and using persuasive skills to steer away from combat. That said, it’s also possible to have your character be an antagonistic jerk who never avoids leaving someone angrier than they were when the conversation started – life is, after all, about choices.
And what a life it is. Gamers are thrust into the body of a poor clueless fool as they fall from the sky. That’s all the introduction I received before being forced to make a few decisions about what to do next. Choose poorly and you’ll see a game over screen before the game even really begins, as I did the very first time playing. Choose wisely and you’ll survive the terrifying fall and horrific injuries that result, discovering you’re a Castoff – an engineered body created, and ultimately abandoned, by a being called the Changing God.
As one of three classes: Glaive, Jack, and Nano – roughly equivalent to warrior/rogue/mage from standard fantasy games – I had to track down other Castoffs and sort out exactly what was going on and how to stop The Sorrow, a dark entity out to destroy the Changing God, once and for all. Each class has unique skills useful both in and out of combat, which allowed me to approach situations in different ways on a second playthrough. Initially I went with a charismatic Nano who focused on persuasiveness and deception – skills that played well with the Nano ability to read the surface thoughts from the mind of whoever you’re talking to – and as a result my experiences were far different from going through the start of the game a second time as a Glaive with little inclination to talk things out at all.
There’s also an interesting mechanic called Tides, which affected how others interact with my character. Ask a lot of questions and I gained Blue Tide. Act without thinking and I swung more towards Red Tide. This adds more than I’d expected to the conversation chains, even if I couldn’t always immediately figure out exactly why my actions caused my tidal alignment to shift the way it did.