Torment: Tides of Numenera review

It’s been quite some time since Planescape: Torment was released for the PC back in 1999. The game revolved around a uniquely strange world with the main character trying to find out who he is. Torment: Tides of Numenera follows its predecessor’s style and play almost similarly to that PC classic. You get a completely uniquely weird fantasy setting coupled with an almost never-ending sea of dialogue choices.

Core Gameplay and Dialogue

The game takes place on Earth in the distant future after the rise and fall of many civilizations. In fact, the name “numenera” is a term for all the different items and artifacts that have been left over from the different ages. All the environments are gorgeously rendered and the locales are extraordinarily detailed. Even though this is Earth, it still feels completely new and alien.

The character creation is pretty slick as it puts forth a series of events that you choose through to help flesh out your character. In addition, the character you play in this world isn’t your normal hero. I shouldn’t even use the word “hero” to describe the protagonist. Your character is literally named “The Last Castoff” as you try to find your origins and why you are what you are. Along with that this journey, you will run into a lot of different world NPCs to speak to and help you along.

If you’re new to this style of isometric RPG, Torment: Tides of Numenera might be too heavy on the literary side for you if you’re not into that sort of thing. It’s not your normal style of RPG where there’s a balance of dialogue and combat. The dialogue is so heavy that you can utilize your three major skills of Might, Speed, and Intellect to speak your way out of a majority of conflicts in the game. As beautiful as it is to be able to utilize some sort of diplomacy, I think this could be a turn off to some players that aren’t too keen on the amount of text needed to read. I wasn’t kidding earlier when I said that you would be given a sea of dialogue choices.

The positive side to all the dialogue is the depth you get from your party members, and as I stated, the world NPCs. Your party members do feel like their own unique individuals since you do have a lot of dialogue trees to click on when speaking with them. You’ll hear their own personal backgrounds as you progress through the game. They’ll also express what they feel about certain situations occurring in the world. I actually really enjoyed these interactions.

Your interactions within the world’s NPCs would also weigh on the moral “Tides” of your character. Here are the definition of these tides courtesy of Torment: Tides of Numenera wiki.

  • Blue Tide: Represents wisdom, enlightenment, and mysticism. It is the Tide of people whose goal is to expand the mind and the spirit.
  • Red Tide: Represents passion, emotion, action, and zeal. It is the Tide of people whose goal is to live in the moment, to experience life to its fullest, or to follow their heart wherever it leads them.
  • Indigo Tide: Represents justice, compromise, and the greater good. It is the Tide of people who view life’s difficulties from a broad, global perspective rather than an individual one.
  • Gold Tide: Represents charity, sacrifice, and empathy. Is it the Tide of people whose primary goal is to help others, especially at a cost to themselves.
  • Silver Tide: Represents admiration of power and seekers of fame. It is the Tide of people who seek to influence the lives of others or who actively seek to be remembered.

Every key interaction your character involves themselves in along with the result of those choices will cause your “tide” to shift to a specific color. I felt this was an interesting way approach morality as it doesn’t necessarily make you an “evil” or “good” character. This, to me, accurately represents reality since a lot of things we come across in our own lives are not black or white. There are a lot of gray areas.

Combat

Conflicts in my gameplay were very few since as I stated earlier, you can pretty much talk your way out of most issues. However, when you do get into combat with NPCs, it felt a little lackluster in my opinion. It felt similar to other styles of combat, however, it was just slower. Sitting and waiting for other NPCs attempting to kill you and your three other party members was not my cup of tea. I would find myself leaving my PC to go do something else while the NPCs took their turns.

Control and UI

I’ve played isometric RPGs since the original Balder’s Gate. So the control wasn’t all that different or difficult for me to acquaint myself with. The options, inventory, and character screens were fairly easy to navigate and use.

One of the issues I did have was that there weren’t any mini markers to explain the background of a lot of items in the world. Tyranny was the last isometric RPG I played, and it had this to help explain world events or even items and situations. Without this option, the world actually really did make a lot of things truly alien or confusing in the game.

Final Reaction 

While I did love the original Planescape: Torment, I will say that Tides of Numenera does share the seat with it. Even though I had some issues with the amount of text along with the okay combat, I really enjoyed the game for what it was. The storyline was completely unique, and with an abundance of colorful party members, and NPCs, it really made me enjoy the game. I would recommend this to hardcore isometric RPG players.

Rating: 4/5 Atoms

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Alger Alama
Alger Alama 327 posts

Highly sociable and having been entrenched in Nerd\Geekdom since he was a kid, Alger has seen it all. During his spare time he loves to go out clubbing, sing karaoke, and attend parties. This Nerd is no wallflower. He'll always greet you with a warm smile and a drink in hand.

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