Torment: Tides of Numenera PS4 Review
Publisher: Techland Developer: InXile Entertainment Genre: RPG Players: 1
Age Rating: 16+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One
If you don’t like reading, then the spiritual successor to Planetscape: Torment, Torment: Tides of Numenera most likely won’t be for you. If you do like reading but think that a game should offer limited wordage then, again, this is one game that you should more than likely skip. As you may have already gathered by now, Torment is a game that is very text heavy.
Because of the amount of text as well as the descriptive writing, Torment’s story is one that is very richly told, and you’ll sometimes find yourself in one small area for ages and ages just chatting to the locals and finding out more about the world around you. You take control of the Last Castoff, a body that was previously embodied by The Changing God. The Changing God basically leaps from body to body, leaving behind bodies that then gain their own consciousness but are left with fragmented memories from the god. The Last Castoff isn’t the only Castoff in the universe, and you’ll come across others in your travels across the Ninth World, which is basically our world but a billion years in the future.
Then there’s The Sorrow, a creature that hunts down Castoff’s, and this monster certainly gives the story a feeling of impending doom. The characters that you meet and join you on your quest, on the other hand, all have plenty of depth, with rich back stories and motivations, and you can even talk to them and learn more about them when you are on your travels.
Torment’s story is intriguing, beautifully written, and has layers and layers of depth. There’s so much to its captivating universe that it demands your attention at all times, and if you do find yourself zoning out and losing your focus, then it’s possible to find yourself a bit lost at sea with some aspects of the game’s narrative.
The game gives you plenty of dialogue options, and some of your responses will result in raising your tides. The tides basically allow you to take your character down a path that isn’t necessarily black or white, meaning that there’s no set good and evil path. This means that doing something questionable earlier in the game won’t result in blocking certain dialogue choices off to you later on. Also, despite having colour coded tides, the game doesn’t blatantly inform you as to what type of responses you can choose from by colouring them in for you. After you choose a response that raises your tide, you’ll either be told that you have raised your indigo, gold, red, silver or blue tides. Indigo is the tide of justice, the greater good and compromise, gold is charity, sacrifice and empathy, red is passion, emotion, action and zeal, silver is power and for the seekers of fame, and blue is wisdom, enlightenment, and mysticism. It’s entirely up to you as to what kind of character that you become through your responses.
Also during dialogue, you are also able to apply effort during specific responses. You have three pools of finite effort – Might, Intellect, and Speed – and in these scenarios the game informs you how successful the action is going to be. The more effort you apply, the more successful the action will be, allowing you to do things such as persuade or intimidate other characters. You can replenish levels of effort with items as well as sleeping, although do keep in mind that with the latter, it’s possible for certain side quests to change overnight, which can either be a good or bad thing, and it’s possible to fail some quests entirely by sleeping.
Torment also has a turn based combat system, and even this allows you to make use of your effort to talk to foes at times in order to make them see reason, and it’s also possible to make use of certain things in the environment to your advantage. Effort can also be used in combat to make sure that your strikes connect with your enemies, and the more Might effort applied, the higher the damage as well as the chances of the blow landing increasing. Intellect and Speed also come into play for certain abilities, but you have to be smart at times, particularly if you are running low on items to replenish your effort stock. There’s also one-use Cyphers, which are powerful attacks which can have a negative effect on individual characters if you have too many equipped at once, and you also can equip the Last Castoff with armour as well as weapons for everyone. Sometimes the combat itself can be a bit annoying as enemies sometimes seem uncertain as to what to do, resulting in turns that feel delayed, but for a large part it’s a nice break from the reams and reams of dialogue.
In some ways, Torment does feel a little unpolished. I have encountered a handful of crashes during certain battles, and at a certain point in the game I also found my save corrupted, although the game just deleted the damaged data, and I then was able to save again, which means that I never lost any of my progress. The visuals are also really dated, with movement often resulting in a stutter, and loading times are lengthy.
Regardless of its flaws, Torment: Tides of Numenera is an absorbing and fulfilling RPG that feels like you are affecting its world and the characters inhabiting it every time you play it, whether that’s in small or significant ways. The game isn’t perfect, and if you prefer your games to be lighter on plot then you should probably think twice before playing, but overall it has been worth the wait, and I certainly don’t want the 35 hours that I spent with it back.