I’m perhaps eight hours into Torment: Tides of Numenera, and I’m pleased to say it’s still feeling very much like Planescape: Torment. Let me count the ways…
So far, very little combat. That’s not to say that there haven’t been opportunities for combat, but I’m playing a cerebral, semi-persuasive type with only slightly more health than a wet paper bag, so my inclination is to find as many non-violent solutions as possible. Tides of Numenera has allowed me to talk my way through numerous confrontations–or at least given me the chance to do so. An encounter with some corrupted artificial intelligence drones in a long-buried technological enclave (which reminded me delightfully of some elements from A Memory in the Black and A Dragon at the Gate) wound up going sideways on me. I tried to talk and think my way through it, but those insane AI types are touchy folk, and I soon found myself in a running (though turn-based) fight through a technological labyrinth as I tried to reach three interface nodes that would let me turn off the drones that I hadn’t yet spell-blasted to pieces.
I was having a rough time of it until I realized something ToN lets you do that its predecessors (both P:T and Baldur’s Gate, for example) do not: I could interact with the environment to access some terminals during combat. It cost me an action to do it–and at one point I had a character at the right panel but she kept getting blasted away from it, able only to struggle back to it before her turn ended–but once I’d figured out that such a thing was possible, things gradually swung back my way again.
Non-standard NPCs make you view them less as walking skill-packs and more as actual characters. Even with Baldur’s Gate 2, arguably the best old-school, standard D&D computer RPG, I had a tendency to recruit people to my party based on what was needed. (“I’m playing a thief already, so I don’t really need Yoshi, I could take the druid but I’ve already got Jaheira AND Viconia, so they’ve got those spells covered…”) Planescape: Torment was somewhat different. (“I’ve got a walking skull that’s kind of a fighter/thief, but where’s a healer? I can’t find one until halfway into the game?? How’s this walking flame guy fit into things? I don’t really need him, but he’s interesting. …Wait, there’s a rogue Modron character?? I don’t care what he does, I want to talk to him!”)
Same thing here. I think the first two characters I met were spellcaster types (or nanos, since it’s the “significantly advanced technology” sort of magic here), which matched my own class, but I chose between them because of how much I trusted one over the other and booted the other out even though that meant just walking around with only one other NPC for a bit. Later I picked up a little girl that I found hiding in some rubble. She’s charming, and seems to be good at hiding, but I’m keeping her in the party because someone has to take care of her, not because she’s–so far–of any real use. And now I just ran into a glowing guy who seems a bit off his rocker. He’s providing some much-needed fighting ability to the party, but I’m tempted to tell him to take a hike because he honestly seems like a danger to himself and others, and he’s also a problematic person to have around due to a tendency toward borrowing things that don’t belong to him. On the other hand, he’s interesting.
Detailed lore for items, even if they’re not all that important. While only cosmetic, this one is still great to see. You’re walking in a world of amazing technologies, peoples, and concepts that itself is built upon billions of years of lost civilizations. The artifacts and oddities you find should back that up, and it’s heartening to see that things that in other games might simply be called “vendor junk” (items with no real use beyond being sold for money) have some actual lore to them. A lot of games nowadays don’t have this, and it’s sorely missed. It’s the difference between engaging the player and making exploration seem like just another exercise in gold-farming.
Adahn. Okay, so this is a minor one, but I ran into someone who knew my character as “Adahn,” the (fake?) name often used by The Nameless One from P:T. I confess, I laughed out loud when that happened. Add that to the fact that I’m playing someone walking around in a body previously used by a god before he got tired of it (and my consciousness apparently moved to fill it after), and the whole “you’ve done things you don’t remember” vibe from P:T is definitely there still.
There’s a lot more to tell, of course, but I’ll have to include that later. In some ways this game feels very much like an adventure game with regard to figuring out puzzles, speaking to people, and exploring. The world itself is fascinating with its far-future lore. It’s really a joy to explore. Note that I did not mean for that to rhyme. I also hope I’m expressing myself well enough because my brain is currently filled with mucus due to a cold I’m fighting, so forgive me if I sound like a blithering idiot here…