Classics never become obsolete. We may get bored with a game of once magnificent beauty or another sequel in an endless franchise. However, it always feels cozy and warm to go back a decade and play a beloved classic title. Remember how many old games, to this day, captivate us with their never aging gameplay. Sadly, because of their difficulty and obscurity many prominent genres ceased to exist. Therefore, publishers tend to toss out many promising ideas or sequels of classic hits. That is the case with many isometric RPG games. A genre once popular in the 90’s and early 2000’s eventually got out of sight and became largely forgotten. Fortunately, crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter appeared, which changed the situation dramatically. Now, players are free to take on the role of the publisher and fund something worthwhile themselves. That is how Torment: Tides of Numenera began. This grand continuation of the 1999 Planescape: Torment became a Kickstarter hit. With the huge support of RPG fans from around the world, the game started its journey towards its release, and here’s its story.
Torment: Tides of Numenera is a spiritual successor of an RPG masterpiece, Planescape: Torment. The game borrows a lot from the original. It’s the creation of the same people who worked on their brilliant predecessor. InXile Entertainment, the developers of the game, were busy working on it for 4 years and it was not all plain sailing. They could not get a license on the setting of Planescape and postponed its release, several times. Fortunately, this did not break the spirit and inspiration of the studio. They have found a comparable, and perhaps an even greater setting of Numenera for their game. Moreover, the longer development process made the game more refined and polished. Small flaws, as usual, have their place. However, when it comes to genre-defining features like storytelling or characters, everything is top notch. Let us start from the beginning.
A great approach to the well-known recipe.
Torment: Tides of Numenera is an isometric 3D RPG. The game does not feature an open-world, focusing on huge locations filled with quests, descriptions, and mysteries instead. During the battle, the game stops and we switch to tactical mode. One by one, characters move, use skills and attack. After the confrontation is over the game returns to normal mode. Selection of the available skills and spells is huge and depends largely on our preferred play style. Even choices we made during the plot advancement may influence the character’s set of skills.
However, battles in Torment: Tides of Numenera differ from the conventional ones. In-game, they are called crises and players can find multiple solutions to them. You can use the environment against enemies to incapacitate or injure them, you can sneak to use the surroundings to your advantage. You can even try to negotiate with your foes and solve the matter peacefully. This approach opens a huge variety of outcomes, so that different characters can use completely different approaches to settle such a crisis.
Torment is far deeper than most other games.
Torment: Tides of Numenera is set in a world like no other. During your journey, you will learn its mysteries and uncover obscurities. Numenera’s world is full of eccentric and frightening characters, which most likely came out of a dream rather than reality itself. It is a mix of fantasy and sci-fi and takes best from both worlds. The tribe of savages can meet you with the fire of energetic weapons, while ancient scientific marvels are merely digging equipment for unsuspecting peasants. Godlike robots, cannibals, ordinary folk and alien creatures are all common citizens in this strange world. What surprises me the most is the incredible consistency and depth for such an unconventional setting.
Usually, one can find a lot of similarities between games of the same setting. If it is fantasy, we are likely to see different kinds of elves or dwarfs fighting some green, menacing brutes. If it’s sci-fi, expect a lot of space bugs and A.I. dilemmas while flying around the boring galaxy. Developers are restricted within the genre’s rules and try to use clichés rather than execute something extraordinary. However, Torment: Tides of Numenera does whatever it wants with its plot and characters. Every crazy and brilliant idea that came to mind is a perfectly working part of the setting. This is an incredibly valuable and unique experience.
A world of obscurity and beauty.
It is hard to stop praising the characters in Torment: Tides of Numenera. In fact, each of them deserves a separate chapter or a game of their own. We are not even talking about the hero’s companions. Almost every secondary character has a one-of-a-kind personality. An ancient robot who devoted his life to give birth to his children? Sure. A party of psionics, who prevent an unknown nightmarish being from entering the realm? Their story is one to follow. While completing the side quests, you will catch yourself thinking that you could spend the rest of the game following this tiny part of the story.
Tides of Numenera is mesmerizing. They say that no picture is able to convey the image that could be as realistic and detailed as the one you create with your imagery. The game combines beautiful graphics with detailed descriptions to take the best from both books and the movie’s way of pushing the narrative. On the one hand, we see the landscapes of futuristic cities and blackened depths of primordial dungeons. We witness the highest peaks that tower among the blue of the seas. On the other hand, every location is filled with profound descriptions; each dialogue opens the world from another side. We see stunning surroundings and, thanks to the text’s detailed description, we can perfectly imagine their contents. A perfect fusion of visual and text-based storytelling.
What could be improved?
There are very few bugs in the game compared to recently released titles. Sometimes the coat on the main character starts moving on its own. Also, there is a small chance of the game crashing, but that is pretty much all. In addition, the voiceover is not perfect. There are no complaints in regards to the overall quality of sound and dialogues, but it would be nice to hear our allies speak more often. The voice of each character fits them well as actors sure paid attention to the nature of each hero. Alas, our companions speak only in the crucial plot moments. Hearing real conversation greatly increases atmosphere, so the lack of voiceover is a minor disadvantage. Secondary characters, no matter how profound they are, could benefit from voiceover as well.
Road of a thousand paths
It is difficult to praise the story of Torment: Tides of Numenera without revealing its mysteries and outcomes. If you are a fan of the original Torment, just know that the game is a total hit. It is as profound and deep as its predecessor. If you are starting your journey with zero awareness about the first Torment game, you should also not hesitate trying it. The game’s story is very personal; it does not only entertain you, but raises up philosophical and ethical questions as well. Decisions you make during your story not only change the outcomes of the plot, but the spirit of your attitude. The game is carefully overseeing one’s actions and previous decisions. Then it determines how different characters or the world itself will react to you.
A must try for anyone who loves RPG’s
So, what about Torment: Tides of Numenera? This title is a real landmark in the world of classic role-playing games and the whole universe of computer games in general. This is a successful step away from the established canons. A step that may become a breakthrough as time goes by. The game’s complexity is not annoying. Its story is beautiful and interesting. The game stuns you with an unusual and absurd world, at the same time demanding to reflect and resolve moral questions. It knows how to be challenging where it is needed, but still forgives minor mistakes or carelessness. It is both smart and engaging, uncommon and accessible. In this regard Torment: Tides of Numenera surpassed its predecessor.
Although the game has some bugs and an extra voiceover would benefit it greatly, these are just minor issues. In the end, an ideal game is not a game with every feature perfected. It is the one that pushes the boundaries of the genre, changes the rules of the game and succeeds. That is why Torment: Tides of Numenera deserves the highest score.
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