Torment: Tides of Numenera First Gameplay Video
- EDIT: Just finished the game. Impressions below.
Noteworthy positive attributes: Art design. Quantity of environmental interaction. Familiar yet distinct rule/stat system that is robust and offers for a pleasant amount of flexibility in character builds.
Noteworthy negative attributes: Too linear, once you leave a primary location there's no going back. Too many goose chase quests. "Find this person" and then "Find that person." That's most of the quests so far. Can't rearrange party, can't change party leader, can't enter Hide mode outside combat (only inside, which makes no sense), no attacks of opportunity, ranged weapons have too little range. Enemies always seem to have higher initiative and start combat (for most of the game, not later on at least), combat is usually too easy despite you always being horribly outnumbered save for the first possible fight. The game likes to include infinite waves of enemies, forcing you to go interact with something instead of fighting. Infinite waves of enemies is one of the worst game design choices ever.
No difficulty modes. Some SJW crap; it makes it a point to make most distinguished figures women. While it is Sci-Fi enough to have distinguished female soldiers, the frequency of them makes its intentions obvious.
The role-playing potential is very limited. The most it leads to is different ending slides. Other changes may manifest depending on your actions, but not a whole lot.
The game copies Planescape: Torment too much. It is designed to be a replica, which is not a smart way to design games or stories. What works for one story won't necessarily work for another.
Most of the game resides in the middle there; it doesn't stand out either way. More detailed impressions:
- I have only encountered bugs with AI pathfinding (including the player character and your party) and some HUD elements remain on screen when they shouldn't (like "Game Saved").
- I run it at a constant 120 FPS with V-Sync. No performance issues, and motion looks great with ULMB.
- I have no prior experience with Numenera, but the stat/rule system in this game is robust and allows for a fair amount of possible character builds, similar in quantity to what you can make in Planescape: Torment except you choose your class at the start.
- So many encounters of various nature utilize Might, Speed, or Intellect attributes, and you can choose to strain yourself more in using these, depleting your score in the chosen attribute until resting or using a restorative item for it. Weird, not the most logical role-playing system I've encountered.
- Extremely interactive world like Planescape: Torment. Can examine and interact with so many different things and people. The goal is to create a bizarre and interesting world.
- The parallels to Planescape: Torment are everywhere, even in the storytelling mechanics and even in smaller things like the use of tattoo symbolism. There are actually too many parallels. I added a list of them to the OP, which I will continue updating.
- Based on the above, it seems like it just stole Planescape: Torment's plot, and that the main design goal was to make a nearly identical game in a new setting. This is not a valid way to approach storytelling. Whereas Planescape's goal was to effortlessly tell the best story in video game history masterfully using role-playing techniques to better it, while crafting one of the most detailed and interactive worlds in gaming.
- Marvelous to look at, many artistic inspirations from Planescape: Torment are present, but it is clearly unique with its wondrous Sci-Fi layer.
- It is not a sandbox RPG like Planescape: Torment, as in you can't attack anyone and everyone.
- About combat and general gameplay mechanics, see what I wrote above under "Noteworthy negative attributes."
- Descriptive writing is not quite as good as Planescape: Torment, but better than other modern RPGs for sure. Planescape's is more carefully written and often uses personification to its distinct advantage, but not so much this game. Imagery is just much better in Planescape: Torment, and this game lacks any distinct style unlike Planescape: Torment.
- Characters are not close to Planescape: Torment quality. All are quite forgettable in this, and don't deliver memorable impressions. Unlike Planescape: Torment which has splendid writing even for tertiary characters; more fleshed out, more detailed behaviors and mannerisms, more alive, more presence. Every single character you can have a conversation with in Planescape: Torment is a noteworthy, memorable character, even very minor ones that don't even give quests, like that merchant in Sigil who sells plates, cups, cutlery, and the like. I can't say the same for Torment: Tides of Numenera, granted not many games can boast of this accomplishment (off the top of my head only Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines to nearly the same degree, but I'd also say that Fallout 2/New Vegas and Arcanum greatly surpass this game in this aspect).
- Almost all quests I've done are goose chase quests, always sent to find someone somewhere. Side quests and main quests. Find this person, find that person. The main quest too went from "Find this person" to "Find that person." This game should be renamed to Where's Waldo?
- Too much emphasis on weird encounters, just for the sake of being weird. A species that reproduces by severing a limb and that limb grows into its own being. A culture that lives inside a large predatory creature. Time paradoxes. Unique species everywhere, not unlike Planescape: Torment, but taken to the extreme, and they are obviously included just for the sake of weirdness. Many are so weird that they just make no sense on any level, many of these encounters are forced just for the sake of inclusion. Together they form an incoherent, inconsistent world, that is not properly explored. Most side quests don't do these strange encounters justice, and are instead typical goose chase quests once again. And you don't have the freedom to explore this world beyond your present location.
- Having completed a climactic point of the game, its first attempt at discussing its core idea directly ("What does one life matter?"), I walk away unimpressed. The characters have excessively predictable motives and conversations/dialogues, and the story so far introduces nothing unexpected, nothing to deliver any strong impression or emotion. This climactic moment is the equivalent to the conversation with Ravel Puzzlewell in her maze in Planescape: Torment. Ravel is an actual developed character and she is met at a highly anticipated moment in Planescape: Torment's story, while I already forgot the name of this game's character and this entire moment just sort of happens freely in a hub, with no build up.
- In rather important moments, the game will sometimes railroad you into a choice when perhaps you'd like to be indecisive. Example 1, example 2. In general, role-playing seems closer to Pillars of Eternity level than Planescape: Torment level. Not good. Another example of the laziness in this regard: I found a group of Bloom Cultists harassing a man in his home. I convince the Cultists to leave him alone, talk to the man who sees for himself that they've left the premises, and the man goes on to reward me. Yet the Cultists never actually leave because the game is too lazy to make them leave.
- Based on the above five points and the excessive copying/pasting from Planescape: Torment, this game seems the product of someone casting Glass Doppelganger on Planescape: Torment; it is a relatively hollow copy, not nearly as strong as the original and you can see right through it. On the other hand it isn't bad, it's just not a masterpiece. It makes me yearn for 1990s Black Isle Studios, for Troika Games, for mid 2000s Obsidian Entertainment. Will RPGs ever reach those heights again?
Ongoing list of Planescape: Torment parallels and references/homages that I've found.
- The player character is essentially immortal (and has other "incarnations") and is struggling to recall memories. Recovering memories is a storytelling mechanic in both games, as is forming mental bonds with others.
- Emphasis on dynamic alignment system.
- Your character is chased by a powerful entity and the manifestations of said entity resemble Planescape: Torment's.
- The starting location is next to something of great importance that will be revisited at the end of the game.
- Finding a hideout for one of your previous incarnations under similar circumstances.
- The following locations from Planescape: Torment are replicated: Sigil, Buried Village, Godsmen Foundry.
- The presence of an endless war.
- A species that truly embodies mind over matter, that shapes matter with thought (it is the Gith in Planescape: Torment). Although the Gith predate Planescape: Torment and have existed in earlier D&D works. This species even shares a story from Planescape: Torment, a story belonging to the companion Dak'kon: Dak'kon came to doubt the teachings of Zerthimon, and that doubt spread and destroyed the willpower of him and his people, causing him to lose his city. Literally the same story is possessed by a character in Torment: Tides of Numenera, and both of them can come to you with their grief (although the one in Torment presses you with it of course, while you have to pry the info from Dak'kon).
- Tattoo symbolism.
- A character that sells you bizarre meats which you can eat and taste test (but only 3, a lot less than Planescape's rat dealer, and the descriptive writing of this encounter isn't nearly as good in Torment).
- A service that provides emotional experiences and memories, like sensory stones in Planescape: Torment (using one of these stones provides a specific emotional experience). However the writers of Torment apparently realized their inability to write such a thing well, so instead these "devices" only confer gameplay abilities and stat bonuses (they are cyphers). Unlike Planescape: Torment which uses its sensory stones to show off its writing expertise and uses a few for storytelling purposes.
- A headless character, no related quest in this game however while Planescape: Torment's actually presents a unique and memorable encounter.
- A faction that collects corpses.
- Replacing your own eyeball.
- Some door/arch symbolism (Planescape: Torment uses it because Sigil, the first and biggest city/hub, is the City of Doors).
- Even the name of the first hub/city is similar (Sagus vs Sigil), as is the fact that both of them are visited by species from other worlds and have many such inhabitants.
- Protagonist being called Adahn (but this is a cheeky reference, acceptable on its own).
- O can be found in a tavern, in both games.
Updated my impressions and list of Planescape: Torment parallels and references, in the post above. Things aren't looking too good. Well... not literally. The art design is stunning all throughout.
But the game is a bust. It's not terrible like Tyranny is, most of it just doesn't stand out in a positive or negative manner. I see no reason to play this, visuals aren't enough. It does not explore this wondrous setting well enough, not even close.
I've already added it to the virtual art gallery though.