Torment: Tides of Numenera is the successor to Planescape: Torment, a huge story driven RPG regarded as one of the best of all time. Tides of Numenera is set within the same multiverse as Planescape and features much the same basis.
Tides of Numenera focuses on a deep world, full of lore and history to discover, using Monte Cook’s Numenera setting of Earth 1 billion years in the future. You take on the role of The Last Castoff, a being left behind once the Changing God has finished it’s use of your body. You awaken with your own consciousness, unaware of the Changing God’s actions or being. Left to explore The Ninth World and try to discover your past and unite with other Castoffs to defeat The Sorrow, an ancient being hunting the Changing God and his creations.
We were given 2 hours to explore the game from a point roughly 60% through the game. Given the rich story of the game, I won’t mention anything about what happened or where I was, however, I have a lot to talk about.
After being given a brief introduction to the game and its world (like that above) we were let loose in the game world, playing on the system of our choice. The first thing you notice is the amount of detail present in the game’s art. The environments and character models were incredible. Given the 2.5D Isometric style of the game depth and perspective can often be skewed, but Tides of Numenera didn’t suffer from this. The dark depths surrounding bridges weren’t just pools of black but slowly fading details of the map descending into the abyss.
Next came the sounds of the game. Voice acted lines coming through crisp and clear above the ambient noise of the game. One minor grievence is the ambient noises can become quite repetitive and rather annoying after a while. Usually you are too focused reading dialogue or information on a situation to notice but at times it can be quite prominent. That being said, some of the ambient sound effects were perfectly well placed and utilised. Given the nature of the environment I was exploring the sounds aided the atmosphere brilliantly.
Jumping into the game 60% in I was prepared to be overwhelmed by the depth of the story and the amount of things I’d not experienced yet. I wasn’t prepared to be consumed by the world as quickly as I was. You instantly become engrossed in the details of those around you and everyone you encounter. Listening to everyone’s dialogue to find out all you can leads you off on unexpected adventures. I didn’t progress the story much at all, but I discovered so much about the area and the people in it. Why they came to be where they were, what they wish they could do to change it. Learning the backstory of one of my party members through interacting with an NPC was awesome! I wasn’t concerned with the story because I was lost in everything else there was to do and discover.
The controls in the Xbox One version of the game were sadly a little unresponsive and there were occasions when I’d go to exit an area and have to press A a couple of times before actually leaving the area. Occasionally when attempting to interact with an object your character would do a little dance around it until stumbling into an undefined sweet spot. But that being said it was an early build of the game and taking a couple seconds to open an item menu isn’t that bad.
Combat. I can’t say anything about combat because I didn’t get into any. I was doing my best to talk my way out of situations as much as possible. There was one heated situation where some ruffians got a little shirty with some other folk and I stepped in. The “combat” consisted of a couple lines of dialogue convincing these guys that fighting was probably going to get them all killed. I’m the player character after all and do they REALLY want to deal with that? Defusing the situation was still rather tricky and a combat in its own way. Balancing conversation options and responses to keep everyone calm was difficult but interesting.
During the briefing at the start of the event the developers were very excited to tell us about how actions will have consequences. Some are instantaneous, others were much further reaching. It’s great to see how a decision you made an hour ago may come back to haunt, or aid you. Not to mention how some of your direct actions impact the story and how your character develops. Walking into a situation blind and thinking “What’s the worst that can happen…” actually made me feel really guilty afterwards. A previous encounter had me taking responsibility for a collection of data points, the promise was to keep them with me and look after them. However my “Eh let’s see what happens” attitude resulted in losing them and it genuinely made me feel guilty for letting them down.
A story that can move you like that from such a simple engagement is incredible! Such a small and simple thing but with huge implications and consequences. Torment: Tides of Numenera has a huge world to discover and explore. Deep lore and story that grabs you from the moment you begin right up til the last second. From the brief play time of the preview I had barely scratched the surface of the area I was in. The story sucks you in and absorbs you completely, engrossing you and entangling you in events you can only just grasp.
Tides of Numenera grips you from the very beginning (or 60% of the way in) and doesn’t let go. If you’re looking for a rich story driven adventure full of lore and challenging decisions, I’d highly recommend keeping an eye on this one!
Torment: Tides of Numenera is set for release on Xbox One, PC and PS4 February 28.