inXile Entertainment (studio)
28 February 2017 (released)
09 March 2017
Released in 1999 was a game many consider one of the greatest and to this day I often hear about from various friends. Torment: Tides of Numenera is the spiritual sequel to Planescape: Torment, a game many have renowned for the last 18 years as one of the finest RPGs in gaming. As I said I myself have not played it and my experience with 2.5D isometric perspective RPG games was limited. But hearing so many positive things about the original game gained my interest.
Torment: Tales of Numenera tells an engaging story of the Last Castoff, a human vessel that once contained the consciousness of an ancient God who has fallen from the sky to the Ninth world. The Last Castoff has managed to achieve a kind of immortality which has drawn the attention of some an unsavoury being simply known as The Sorrow. The Last Castoff is trying to survive as the Sorrow’s sole purpose in existence is to destroy all creation and relentlessly hunt the Last Castoff. Players will explore the Ninth World in order to discover some well-hidden truths and new create alliances in order to stop the Sorrow.
This is a basic explanation I could provide as the plot itself is immensely detail with a well crafted history of the world, lore and endless back stories to discover. The time you’ll spend with Numenera will have you questioning yet be captivated by the strange world before you. Each of wonderful discoveries will only further your interest pushing you to dig deeper and find more. You can see the bewildering nature the world harbours, yet there’s a sense of purpose and brilliance to the design. The writers and designers have done an amazing job at creating The Ninth world as a place that draws you in and immerses you with wonder.
The one thing new players must know before entering this experience is that this game is heavily story driven with plenty of exchanges between characters, a thriving history and lore which delivered through plenty of dialogue. During early stages of the game its understandable if you find yourself overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information to take in. The substance and explanations can be rather dense to say the least at times. Also don't get too confident on being helped out by any voice acting as any dialogue read out is minimal. It is strange how some moments are read out but most other exchanges aren't.
Numenera's narrative would be easier to digest if there was more of an interesting method to delivery it. Everything filters through as an epic novel and where players would often be shown visuals to represent actions and motives, we tend to get highly descriptive texts that tell rather than show. Players can be easily overwhelm with the vast amount of information on screen and if you're not in the right mind set it can be difficult to invest in the immense story. Not to mention that for console gamers, we don’t tend to sit right up to the screen to read as a PC gamer would, it can make it a little difficult to read several paragraphs of information in a small space of the screen.
Placing this aside the story is a worthy investment for those who put the time in reading all the dialogue exchanges, as there’s an enriching and gripping experience to explore within the narrative.
Numenera's strongest aspect to gameplay is the meaningful sense of choice with a great variation in conversation topics, question types and complex moral decisions. Numenera offers a refreshing take on the RPG formula where there's never a right or wrong outcome and even when your actions result in failure, it can give you an alternative that might prove worthy to follow up. There's no sense of right or wrong and morality choices are much more obscure compared to other mainstream RPGs. What you feel may be right isn't always the best route and having a heartless reaction to a situation may benefit the Last Castoff.
Speaking to interesting characters, avoiding confrontations and other events similar are enjoyable because they feel meaningful and well crafted. This is where the gameplay held confidence as the execution of combat is clunky, crude and repetitive. Combat situations usually become overly drawn due to the prolonged turn based system which slowly cycles through each character’s actions and reactions. This becomes more tedious when your engaged with multiple enemies in a large area. You’ll likely be able to avoid most conflicts as you can converse your way out of most hostile situations, unless you intend on upsetting the balance with most NPCs/situations. There’s a great deal of tension during discussions which I liked as there can be no real straight answer and the shift can change from positive to a brawl within a couple of sentences.
Needless to say Torment: Tides of Numenera is a game that will definitely impress fans of the genre and will rekindle many with the time they spent with Planescape. From a new comer's perceptive, the story is fantastically written but it's delivery can be rather tiresome and bloated with vast amounts of information. While a core gameplay element such as combat never feels satisfying. But the enriching lore, highly engaging story and beautiful yet strange world on offer is what makes Numenera captivating. While this may not be for everyone, Tides of Numenera is certainly a game crafted with love and care for the fans who have await 18 years for this spiritual sequel.
++ Wonderfully written story
++ Strange and fascinating world
+ Dynamic approach to choice
+ Good replay value
-- Overwhelming sense of story telling for new comers
-- Combat is very lacklustre
A PS4 review code of Torment: Tides of Numenera was provided by the publishers for the purpose of this review