Torment: Tides of Numenera

The incomparable right to choose your own death

Torment: Tides of Numenera: Among the hosts of developers who collected money from investors for the “spiritual heirs” of the great and not so great computer games of the past, inXile Entertainment studio took on the most difficult task. It’s no joke to create an RPG that continues the tradition of Planescape: Torment – a benchmark for many fans of the genre, which combines a dramatically strong plot and philosophical reality of the Plane world. Direct continuation will be vulgar, blind copying is ridiculous. And where should the poor developer go? Find a third way.


Marvelous Ninth World

The personality of Torment: Tides of Numenera is born from its own exotic locale. The ninth world is the distant future of the Earth, in which the technologies of the past are indistinguishable from magic; techno-fantasy, where the medieval surroundings coexist with mutants, androids and supercomputers. Fantasy, science fiction and almost post-apocalyptic elements complement each other, creating an eclectic harmony. The ninth world is not like the Great Wheel of Plans, but in strangeness it is not inferior to it.

However, the creators of Tides of Numenera did not do without references to Planescape. The Last Forsaken is a nameless and memoryless protagonist who also sometimes responds to the name Adan, is almost incapable of dying and periodically recalls past “lives”. At the beginning of the game, the hero finds himself in the Cliffs of Sagus, a city similar to Sigil, which even has its own bar with eccentric regulars ready to share stories about the structure of the world, the horrors of the Endless Battle, and just life stories. True, the bar still does not have a landmark in the form of a burning corpse.


In the story quest, we explore the city and communicate with its bizarre inhabitants. There are a lot of conversations in the game, and if the character has already started talking to you, be prepared to dive into a long read. It is not scary that rarely anyone in Tides of Numenera communicates in short lines, preferring long explanations. But even some third-rate character with whom you will speak only once, the authors provided a detailed description of appearance and behavior, up to the mention of the shape of the folds of clothing. At first, you eagerly read every text in the game, and then you realize that not all of them are worth the time spent. Of course, this is far from the bottom level of the stories of the characters of contributors in Pillars of Eternity, but unnecessary graphomania is still common. But with the soundtrack in the game, there is order: the noisy hubbub of the bazaar, the sonorous steps of a guard walking along the bridge,

You can’t fault the tasks either, everything is implemented according to the gold standards of the genre. An impressive number of options depending on the characteristics and skills – please. The choice of two or more evils – get it, sign it. Long-term consequences of decisions – where today without them. Quests are completed even on a failed skill check, a rare quality found only in high-volume RPGs like Age of Decadence. But the great thing is that in Tides of Numenera, the obvious and easy path often turns out to be far from the best in terms of both reward and morale. The hero can use the newly acquired superpower and strength to extract the necessary information, or he can hold on, go the long way and get the same information without a disgusting scene with a simple decision.

It happens that numerous checks of parameters even interfere – sometimes you just want to punch the offender in the face, but no, you can’t. Kindly apply some skill, and if you already fail the check, then, so be it, fight. However, the battles in the game are not really battles, but Crises, which are resolved even without active fist-waving. Sometimes it is enough to break into the desired point of the play area, sometimes it is enough to persuade the enemy characters to calm down; direct fights for destruction in Tides of Numenera are a minority. No matter how the developers reworked the combat interface, the Crises turned out to be clumsy and long anyway: until you figure out which character to run to the right console or lever, until a couple of checks pass … and the action is step-by-step, you can’t save at this moment, so if you fail, you have to start over. Bored. Good, that not every battle ends with a game over, and that it often opens up another way to complete a quest. And there are few mandatory battles in the new Torment – everything is according to the precepts of the ancestor.


The role-playing system of Tides of Numenera is laconic: three classes, three attributes, several skills and class abilities. The interesting thing here is the reserves of each characteristic, which are spent on efforts that increase the chance of a successful use of the skill. The character is able to use even an underdeveloped skill when spending the effort of the desired attribute. And that doesn’t make the game any easier, as stats are replenished either by special items or by resting. The latter is not in vain for some tasks, leading to new and not always joyful events: after resting in a hotel, the heroes even run the risk of receiving news of the death of a character. Yes, and there is not much money in the game, so it will not work often to sleep off. Stocks of characteristics have to be spent wisely, the game keeps in good shape.


The story of your life

The plot drives the Last Outcast forward, not allowing him to stay in one place for a long time. Tides of Numenera in this regard is even stricter than Planescape: Torment – the hero will not return back to the first city either. The game focuses on story and conversation rather than exploration and combat, so the story needs to match. And the authors managed to create an interesting narrative, throwing up unexpected discoveries and shooting plot guns right up to the final scenes. A separate joy was the influence of a seemingly minor task on the key decision of the game.

And it is impossible not to say a few words about the associates of the Last Outcast. More precisely, about one of them. Yes, each companion of the protagonist got into an unusual situation, your influence on comrades leads to dissimilar results, their stories are often dramatic and are revealed throughout the entire passage – this is all wonderful. But it says a lot about the game that you feel the greatest emotional attachment to the most useless character in battle – a little lost girl, who simply cannot be kicked out of the squad. For the same defense instinct comes into play that works flawlessly, for example, in The Last of Us or BioShoсk Infinite. For this, it’s not a sin to take off your hat to the developers.

The creators of Torment: Tides of Numenera could be kicked for the free fulfillment of promises from Kickstarter: here is a stub instead of a multi-level Labyrinth of the Forsaken, and rather a decorative value of the Streams, which were presented almost as a key feature, and the factions disappeared somewhere. You can also compare Torment: Tides of Numenera with Planescape: Torment on every point, periodically clacking your tongue in disappointment: here the ending does not hold out, and Mark Morgan wrote the music much better before, and there were almost no unnecessary texts in the predecessor. However, doing both is pointless. Initial ideas rarely survive until the release of the game without changes, and few RPGs can withstand comparison with Planescape. And Torment: Tides of Numenera has its own face – strange, wise, a little boring and infinitely beautiful. The authors created the story in which the player himself has to look for the answer to the question of the meaning of one life. How to translate this answer into reality.


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