Torment: Tides of Numenera on PC – The DVDfever Review

Torment: Tides of Numenera

Torment: Tides of Numenera shows there appears to be a bit of a CRPG (computer role playing game) renaissance going on at the minute with so many coming out over the past few years, not forgetting other successfully backed Kickstarter projects such as inXiles’ other project, Wasteland 2. We also had the great Pillars of Eternity come from a successfully-backed project. There is a lot of good to be had from Kickstarter and so on as it appears to be bringing back old-school style RPGs in a day and age when everything has to be full open-world 3D titles. Even getting enhanced versions of Baldurs Gate 1 & 2 and Icewind Dale have played their part. There was a new expansion for Baldurs Gate Enhanced which came out March 2016, so many years after its original release. It is a great time if you love a game with an in-depth story that you can get your teeth into.

The one I’m reviewing here is finally out today after the 2013 Kickstarter campaign. I’ve been playing it a fair bit for the past few weeks. It follows the old formula of hand-painted environments with 3D-style character models and superb effects for magic and so on, much like its spiritual predecessor Planescape Torment.

The story of the player character known as The Last Castoff is that of rediscovery of yourself, you are the last vessel of an old being known as the Changing God. Essentially, this Changing God jumps from body to body making him eternal and immortal. Little did he know that when he cast off the body he was using, they were re-awakening with no memories of what or who they actually were. Now this has lead to an entity known as The Sorrow wanting to destroy the castoffs and also the Changing God. So it is up to you to find other people like yourself and eventually find said creator to warn of The Sorrow and stop it once and for all. Of course, it is never that simple – you will meet a multitude of characters on your travels, gain companions along the way and of course nothing comes for free so you will be doing numerous side quests to pry bits of information and items from various NPCs and factions.

Torment: Tides of Numenera – PS4 Gameplay – Combat 60FPS – Checkpoint TV

The gameplay mechanics are very intricate – the old adage: ‘easy to learn but harder to master’ comes straight to mind. As an example, instead of choosing the way your character is at the start (Good, Chaotic & Evil from older D&D games), your actions will determine who you are. This is done with Tides – each colour represents different aspects of your psyche and actions. Gold and Blue show that you like to help people out and learn as much as possible; Red is following your own passions and goals; Silver is how you want to be remembered and so on. It is a great mechanic and a nice way to build your character. Other characters that follow you will inevitably agree or disagree with you, not forgetting that you have multiple choices of what you can say during a conversation and they can affect the outcome and how people will think of you.

Now, the combat on Torment: Tides of Numenera is turn based, much like the old Temple of Elemental Evil (thankfully considerably easier to get to grips with). Starting the game, you will choose a class: Glaive, Nano or Jack (or Warrior, Wizard & Rogue), which sets the template for how you are going to play your character, that being one which can be levelled-up to get new skills and abilities. There is also the Numenera, long forgotten technology from by gone ages which can be used during combat to help win a tight situation and so on. These items are considered magical in the ninth age of the world.

Now I do have to say that I generally don’t like turn-based combat and was a little disappointed when I read an update saying that they were going this way instead of real-time with pause, like many of the older Black Isle games. I do quite enjoy the newer X-Com games occasionally, but always feel that turn-based combat tends to be a bit unfair, especially if you accidentally start a fight with a more powerful enemy and they get the first move. I find for the rest of the battle, you’re scrambling to keep characters upright and healthy to fight on as a priority over the enemy. I feel a similar way to the older Final Fantasy games – taking turns to move and hit each other just doesn’t seem right.

Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the game.

Torment: Tides of Numenera – Gamescom 2016 Gameplay – PS4-Magazin

Torment: Tides of Numenera

So that is what we have here. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a major strategist to get through the encounters – it is usually just moving your healer to one side and have them hide, then moving ranged attackers and mages mid-combat area and your fighters up close to try and do as much damage before the enemy moves towards weaker characters. During the combat, you can use items you’ve found like area-of-effect explosives. Numenera which may weaken a group of enemies or heal you etc. (each Numenera is different so you need to look at each in your inventory) and your fighters can also use various special effects with their attacks making them corrosive, mental and so on.

You also have effort, so once you’ve selected the attack you then decide how much effort you put into it, and could go 100% on each attack but that will drain your pool of points pretty quickly (replenished by resting), leaving you more vulnerable if it is a longer fight. If you have no points left, your effort could be as low as 20% and you’ll usually miss every attack. At times, I have even missed with 60% effort. Maybe I am doing something wrong but turn-based combat I just don’t like it all that much.

Thankfully, you can talk your way round a lot of situations much like Planescape. There is a lot of text to be reading through, and the story itself has a lot of depth and just as much work has been put into the side missions.

For the sound and visuals, they’re also similar to the older games. You have a pseudo 2.5D painted style background with rendered characters. The areas you will travel can vastly vary. The opening section of the game will see you traversing your mind, helping out an NPC that becomes a companion by doing a story book-style section, similar to the old Fighting Fantasy books, discovering the under city with numerous denizens and so on. It looks nice and is pieced together with great care. The audio side of things has certain bits of text voiced by a character and different musical scores which capture the feel of the world perfectly.

Torment: Tides of Numenera – PS4 Character Creation – PlayStation Universe

All in all, Torment: Tides of Numenera has been well worth the wait. Originally stated as launching 2014, and getting put back to early 2017 has given inXile the chance to craft this superb CRPG. There have been a few bugs like graphical glitches on a few of the quests including an NPC that didn’t actually appear to finish a quest! But nothing particularly game-breaking. Just a shame it was missing the quest ending, as moving to the area after the airship finished off it off, but you cannot go back.

My personal disliking of turn-based combat is not a massive thing really. I managed to clear out the droids on a quest given by the temple and there was quite a few in the area you have to investigate. Not forgetting, though, a lot of combat situations can be avoided by fast talking and reasoning. The dialogue trees allow for quite a bit of freedom in what you actually want to do and how to play it. One gripe with combat I have noticed is that walls don’t become transparent, so if you end up behind a wall, you will find yourself clicking ‘move’ on the floor instead of enemies. It can be a little frustrating.

Torment: Tides of Numenera, then… If you love RPGs like Tyranny, Divinity Original Sin, Pillars of Eternity and so on, then you will adore this game. Not forgetting that if you are a die-hard fan of Planescape, Torment, then this needs to be an instant buy.

My only major gripe, which I have mentioned in a few reviews previously is screen resolution. I set my desktop to 1600×900 which the game selects as its standard resolution. I change it to 1920×1080 when gaming, but this is another title that shows higher resolution, but after selecting, when I start, it is running in the lower desktop resolution. Maybe its a Unity thing, or something isn’t recognising my monitors available resolutions. I don’t think it is Unity, as both Pillars and Tyranny run fine in 1920×1080 after selection. Go figure.

Torment: Tides of Numenera is out today on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, as well as Mac OSX, and click on the packshot for the full-size version.

Important info:

  • Publisher: InXile
  • Players: single player-only


Director: Kevin Saunders
Producers: Brian Fargo and Montgomery Markland
Writers: Chris Avellone, Adam Heine, Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie, Nathan Long, Colin McComb and Mark Yohalem
Music: Mark Morgan

Callistege: Lani Minella
The Last Castoff (Male): Jeff Schine
Matkina: Marissa Lenti
Aligern: Jonny McGovern
Tybir: Sean Crisden
The Last Castoff (Female): Shannon Torrence
Erritis: Cayenne Chris Conroy


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