Torment: Tides of Numenara (First 5-Hour Impressions)

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Posted by MikeLemmer (1533 posts) -

Note: I Kickstarted this game at a high enough tier to get a free copy.

Gonna keep this short because I got other things to do.

It feels like Torment. I can't exactly articulate how yet, but it feels like Torment more than any other RPG I've played in the past decade. The casual weirdness around every corner. The weird echoes of past lives. The 90:10 dialogue:combat ratio. (In the 5 hours I've played so far, I've only fought for 20-30 minutes.) The reams of text with a half-dozen ways to respond. This is a game where not only can you talk your way out of a "mandatory" fight, but you can do a favor for the instigator later to make up for costing him a bounty.

(Spoilers for first 30 minutes)

The basis of the plot is essentially the opposite of Planescape: Torment. Rather than an immortal who sheds their previous lives, you're one of the previous lives shed off, gaining your own consciousness as the former inhabitant of your body transfers himself to a new one. Not only is this immortal well-known in the world, but there's a cult worshipping him and a centuries-long war between his former bodies. It all makes for a nice personal connection to much larger events.

The majority of the weirdness is, surprisingly, not tied into any quests at all. There's an item merchant whose merchandise is slowly turning her into an insect. A man whose body is becoming a musical instrument who constantly whispers about the Choir. A mutant running an inn who persuades people to spend the night with calming pheromones. An otherdimensional being studying every method of procreation. All people you can interact with (or ignore) without getting any requests to solve something for them.

Meanwhile, even the straightforward quests seem to branch off in unusual ways. A simple quest to clear out a ruin for study involved negotiating a truce with some scavengers, a decision whether to let someone else take the glory in exchange for some intel, and an optional chance to sell the info about it to extraterrestrial robots.

As a last note, the "alignment" system here is... unusual. Rather than the typical good-evil axis, it's divided up into 5 different motivations. Two of them, justice & compassion, substitute for the usual Good alignment. Meanwhile, the Evil alignment has been replaced by 3 amoral motivations: passion, knowledge, and glory. (At least, I think they are; the game does a poor job of describing some concepts in the world.) It's an interesting take on the usual alignment system, although I haven't seen yet how it affects the gameplay.

Will report back later once I've dug deeper into the game.

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#1 Posted by hassun (9877 posts) -

I'm a backer so I'm getting it anyway but I'm still pretty excited about this. Sounds like there is a lot of interesting talking and decisionmaking.

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#2 Posted by Rave (434 posts) -

Love the original so glad this sounds like it turned out well. I unfortunatley bought into the Nioh (turns out I dont love it) hype and ended up with that instead. Will have to pick this up down the line.

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#3 Posted by ArbitraryWater (15667 posts) -

I'm looking forward to diving into this thing myself. I played through the first two "screens" in Early Access, liked what I saw (verbose writing, an aggressively alien and weird setting) but was waiting for the full version before playing any more. I'll admit, I'm still having trouble deciding between going Jack for all of the extra skills, or going Nano for the mind-reading. I'm not entirely sure why you'd want to make your main character a Glaive, given that if this game is going to be the spiritual successor to Planescape Torment being able to fight well isn't exactly a high priority.

Also, just a PSA for anyone else who's going to play this game, the "Crisis Objectives" window is on by default. I'm not normally one to disable UI or features, but that thing seems both unnecessary and kinda hand-holdy and I'm personally going to play with it turned off.

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#4 Posted by flasaltine (2544 posts) -

Ok, so it is like Planescape in spirit with all of the writing... but is the writing actually good?

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#5 Edited by frytup (1250 posts) -

I backed it, but haven't had time to get into the release version yet. My impressions from the beta were that it's a pretty damn good visual novel, but I really didn't like the combat mechanics very much.

So... right in line with Planescape.

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#6 Posted by Rorie (5633 posts) -

I'm going to have to give this a bit more time - hopefully we'll have a Quick Look at some point, but might not be this week due to GDC.

Staff
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#7 Posted by Rorie (5633 posts) -

Has anyone tried it on console? I heard that that version is kind of a mess.

Staff
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#8 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1238 posts) -

I backed this game as well at the $15 (enough to get a copy), so I'm planning on trying it tonight.

I got into RPGs relatively late, so I missed Planescape when it came out. I tried to okay it a few years ago, but wasn't able to get through it.

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#9 Posted by Mathey (1011 posts) -

Innerested, but gotta budget time and money. Like the idea of some divergent paths and unexpected quests - a big part of what was cool about Planescape was how unexpected and atypical it was.

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#10 Posted by MikeLemmer (1533 posts) -

Ok, so it is like Planescape in spirit with all of the writing... but is the writing actually good?

I haven't rolled my eyes at any of it yet, so... yes?

Yes... I'll go with yes. It has the same eloquent & verbose style.

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#11 Posted by HumanityPlague (361 posts) -

I assume, or at least hope, you're playing the PC version. I was asked to do a review for the PS4 version for a site, and the game is functionally unplayable, with massive slowdown and some really weird hitches during the game. This wasn't like hours in the game, this was within the first minute, in the opening area inside the mirror. I thought I was alone in these observations but Kotaku's review ended with, "Kotaku’s Jason Schreier tested out the PS4 port and found it to be full of technical issues including constant freezes that made the game near-unplayable for him on that platform.", which is entirely accurate. I got the game early and prayed there would be a Day 1 patch, and my hopes were not answered.

Then again, it's not as bad as the Xbox One version, which my editor got. He can't proceed past the character select screen, due to some bug in it. So...that's cool.

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#12 Posted by MikeLemmer (1533 posts) -

I assume, or at least hope, you're playing the PC version. I was asked to do a review for the PS4 version for a site, and the game is functionally unplayable, with massive slowdown and some really weird hitches during the game. This wasn't like hours in the game, this was within the first minute, in the opening area inside the mirror. I thought I was alone in these observations but Kotaku's review ended with, "Kotaku’s Jason Schreier tested out the PS4 port and found it to be full of technical issues including constant freezes that made the game near-unplayable for him on that platform.", which is entirely accurate. I got the game early and prayed there would be a Day 1 patch, and my hopes were not answered.

Then again, it's not as bad as the Xbox One version, which my editor got. He can't proceed past the character select screen, due to some bug in it. So...that's cool.

Yes, I'm playing the PC version. No guarantees as to console performance, at least from me.

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#13 Posted by satiros (50 posts) -

I'm about 3 hours in, and aside from getting through the tutorial I've only managed to do two little side quests and I've seen all of 5 major screens (I've also not gotten into any fights outside of the tutorial!). The amount of text in this game is intense, and so detailed and verbose. I'm into it - it's forcing me to approach this game in a way that I haven't for a long, long time. Not only am I reading all the text that's presented to me, I'm taking the time to actually engage with the text, think about what it's saying and imagine it in my head. Which means that I'm spending a lot of time just sitting and reading, not actually moving my character, not "playing" the game as it were, it's weird and feels archaic and almost completely new/fresh at the same time.

As I'm getting older it's tough to be this involved with games, but it's really paying off for this one. So far, two big fat thumbs up.

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#14 Edited by Tennmuerti (9445 posts) -

Oh is it out already? Shit, so much to play ><

It's been sitting in my purchased but wait until release pile for so long now that I totally forgot when it was supposed to be finally out.

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#15 Posted by thomasnash (1106 posts) -

Enjoyed what I played of it last night, but the PS4 version is pretty jacked up. I didn't encounter anything absolutely game breaking, but did get a lot of hitches when doing just basic moving around. Load times are all over the place, with no real relationship to what it was loading, it seemed to me.

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#16 Posted by Rayeth (1201 posts) -

@rorie said:

Has anyone tried it on console? I heard that that version is kind of a mess.

DO NOT PLAY IT ON CONSOLE. That version is a mess, I've seen reports all over the web of stuttering, insane load times for no discernable reason and other weirdness. The PC version plays wonderfully and has AFAIK no big issues like those. The usual stuff about quests breaking or scripting being weird is present for some as it always is with these types of games.

I've played maybe 3 hours and gotten nearly nowhere, but am loving it. I've spent probably 2 hours just talking to random NPCs in the starting town. The quality of the writing is REALLY noticible. Every named NPC has a story or reason for being there. It's a great start so far.

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#17 Posted by Drachmalius (586 posts) -

I started it last night and it seems like a really promising game. I've never played a CRPG like this other than about 5 hours of Pillars of Eternity. But something about this game feels very right and in my wheelhouse. Looking forward to spending more time with it, especially since it's supposedly around 30-40 hours and not like 100. The beginning of the game is very strong, if they can maintain that throughout the story I'll be very happy.

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#18 Posted by Efesell (4326 posts) -
@flasaltine said:

Ok, so it is like Planescape in spirit with all of the writing... but is the writing actually good?

I haven't rolled my eyes at any of it yet, so... yes?

Yes... I'll go with yes. It has the same eloquent & verbose style.

I've been very surprised at how well they have hit that same tone that Planescape had.

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#19 Edited by odinsmana (982 posts) -

@thomasnash said:

Enjoyed what I played of it last night, but the PS4 version is pretty jacked up. I didn't encounter anything absolutely game breaking, but did get a lot of hitches when doing just basic moving around. Load times are all over the place, with no real relationship to what it was loading, it seemed to me.

Other than the load times, stuttering and that stuff does the console version play well. CRPGs are normally so tuned to being played with a mouse and keyboard that I couldn`t imagine playing most of them comfortably with a controller without some major changes to the games.

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#20 Edited by MikeLemmer (1533 posts) -

@efesell said:

I've been very surprised at how well they have hit that same tone that Planescape had.

Exactly. I'd have trouble explaining how it hits a tone similar to Planescape, but it feels like Planescape.

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#21 Edited by Efesell (4326 posts) -

@odinsmana said:
@thomasnash said:

Enjoyed what I played of it last night, but the PS4 version is pretty jacked up. I didn't encounter anything absolutely game breaking, but did get a lot of hitches when doing just basic moving around. Load times are all over the place, with no real relationship to what it was loading, it seemed to me.

Other than the load times, stuttering and that stuff does the console version play well. CRPGs are normally so tuned to being played with a mouse and keyboard that I couldn`t imagine playing most of them comfortably with a controller without some major changes to the games.

I've actually been playing with a controller on PC, that part of the process actually works pretty well. It's not an especially busy game mechanically so there isn't the concern of needing a bunch of hotkeys that other crpgs might have.

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#22 Edited by thomasnash (1106 posts) -

@odinsmana: I would say that the controls are a little poor. Conceptually they are fine but they are implemented badly. The movement is quite finicky outside of combat, I think. In combat, it just gives you a cursor and I'm not sure that that wouldn't have been better than direct control.

But as above, the game is pretty sedate so it's not a huge thing.

I'm starting to wish I'd just got the PC version. In every other way I'm really enjoying the game. I think it's one of the few games that's lived up to the "spiritual successor" promise, and maybe actually improved on the original formula.

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#23 Edited by Atwa (1687 posts) -

I played like 4 hours so far, and I like what I have played.. the actual mechanics of the game doesn't seem, that great? Its basically just a vehicle to tell the story they have, and there is so much text. Which I appreciate. So far the writing is intriguing, some of the characters you run into have really cool things to say. Though my one fear right now is that most of the random characters you run into seem extremely inconsequential. Like, they may go on a tangent about being from another dimension and where their stars have burnt out, but that seems to be about it. When you exhaust the dialogue options it just seems like that character wont probably be any part of the game further? The weirdness of Planescape is certainly there and it feels like Planescape. I still have to see how the story progresses, as that is really where it all hinges on.

I haven't had a single combat encounter yet, so if anything I imagine a quick look of this game will be weird, its mostly text, most is not spoken.

The amount of content the game has cut though is starting to look pretty worrisome. And Chris Avellones second companion being completely gone from the game is really a bummer to me.

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#24 Posted by Slasktotten (90 posts) -

So first off, I am about 7h into the game on the ps4.
I wouldn't say the game is unplayable. It's not a very good version, bad framerate and ridiculous loading times (hopefully some patches can fix this?). Haven't encountered anything gamebreaking though.


As for the game itself I'm finding it a mixed bag. The writing is pretty great, all the environments and backgrounds are wonderfully bizarre and detailed and I am loving how the game's primary focus is to tell a story. It's also refreshing to see a game treat "failing" so dynamically (I feel like I'm constantly fucking up encounters and quests, but the game never shows a game over screen and keeps feeding really interesting results).

On the downside, combat feels rudimental and uninspiring so far, not involving any interesting tactical decision making. And you end up watching the enemies move around the screen for half the time. I'm also not a very big fan of the 3d models in the game. They just don't convey the extraordinary strangeness and cool weird details you read about in the text. Instead coming of as bland and forgettable. I'd also say I'm kinda disappointed in the companions so far. Why only kinda straight up middle of the road humanoids when you have so many interesting races to choose from? Where's my talking skull and perpetually on fire wizard?

Also why can't I change the portrait of the main character, *sigh*, really don't like it.

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#25 Posted by odinsmana (982 posts) -

@odinsmana: I would say that the controls are a little poor. Conceptually they are fine but they are implemented badly. The movement is quite finicky outside of combat, I think. In combat, it just gives you a cursor and I'm not sure that that wouldn't have been better than direct control.

But as above, the game is pretty sedate so it's not a huge thing.

I'm starting to wish I'd just got the PC version. In every other way I'm really enjoying the game. I think it's one of the few games that's lived up to the "spiritual successor" promise, and maybe actually improved on the original formula.

OK, thanks! My PC is old and dying, so I was thinking about gettting the PS4 version. I won`t have the opportunity to play it for a few weeks anyway, so if it doesn`t control terribly I might just wait and see if they patch the other technical issues by then.

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#26 Posted by Anonymous_Jesse (288 posts) -

For something so driven by text, the small box it delivers it in, is kind of odd. I haven't fought a battle yet, about 3 hours in. Love the writing but I don't like the way abilities are done.

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#27 Posted by viking_funeral (2881 posts) -

(Disclosure: I backed the game on Kickstarter.)

It definitely feels like Planescape: Torment. I'm only in the early parts myself, but the dialogue and world are both satisfying and intriguing so far. What little combat I've seen is already far better than P:T, though that isn't hard to pull off.

I hope the rest is the game is as good as the start.

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#28 Posted by Slasktotten (90 posts) -

@odinsmana: well it's also worth thinking about what your tolerance for that sort of stuff is! i mean, the choppy framerate wont really impact you playing the game in any meaningful way. you'll be spending 85% of your time staring at text boxes, reading dialogue and description text anyway

loading times are frustrating though.

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#29 Posted by satiros (50 posts) -

So, I've played this pretty much nonstop and got through my first play-through. Now that I've finished it and had more time with the game itself I find myself having pretty mixed feelings.

IMO, I think there's a lot that this game gets really, really right (the unique/unsettling/awe-inspiring environments/characters for example, the amount of freedom/choice, the pacing of the story), but to counteract that there's a lot that this game gets really wrong (the fighting system, the sluggishness of moving around in the world, the almost obfuscated way of delivering text despite it being the main focus). I think overall, in my playthrough, it was refreshing to be able to play a selfless/helpful character that actually had to sacrifice important things to be selfless.

The game was surprisingly taxing in my experience - I felt fatigued in mind and spirit after playing for a couple of hours. The sci-fi elements of this game feel almost oppressive/suffocating. To me it's a game that mirrors the complexities of existence - it's not all fun and games, and there's no escapism at the end of the day. Pretty impressive!

(To give some context, I'm now playing Tyranny and despite its complexities it feels way more straight-forward in setting and story and I'm having a way easier time with it. It feels more like fun and escapism.)

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#30 Posted by MikeLemmer (1533 posts) -

@satiros said:

(To give some context, I'm now playing Tyranny and despite its complexities it feels way more straight-forward in setting and story and I'm having a way easier time with it. It feels more like fun and escapism.)

That's weird to hear, as I recall the Tyranny devs stating they were trying to go with a more "realistic" perspective of evil. Do you think it's a result of them just having a different aim? Not being able to commit to a more nuanced version of evil? Or just missing the mark / bad writing?

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#31 Posted by satiros (50 posts) -

@mikelemmer Oh I just meant in comparison to Torment. I'm only about 4 hours in, and so far I think there's been a lot of nuance and complexity. I think just coming off Torment, for me it feels like Tyranny is easier to wrap my head around, and I'm having more of a good time with the game-play (the fun part). Plus the fantasy setting feels more comfortable and understandable to me, as opposed to the obscure and intense SF setting of Torment.

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