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Torment: Tides of Numenera: After Sigil

InXile Entertainment has been working hard to help us revisit the glory days of a very specific style of role-playing game. First, we had Wasteland 2, the long-awaited sequel to the proto-post-apocalytic role-playing game. And now, we have the spiritual successor to one of the most beloved role-playing games of all time. When it comes to narrative strength and world-building, few games are worthy of even being referenced in the same statement as Planescape: Torment. So much praise has been heaped on this game that the mere idea of continuing its legacy inspires intense thrills of excitement and a considerable amount of anxiety. Having spent an unhealthy amount of time with the early access version of Torment: Tides of Numenera, I have a very good feeling about it.

Torment: Tides of Numenera smartly follows the narrative format of Planescape: Torment; the character you assume control of is not entirely clear on things. And by that, I mean you are suddenly thrust into a horrific situation with no background knowledge of anything, including your identity, origin, and abilities. The only thing you know at the outset is that something very bad is hunting you.

But after the unforgettable prologue (which I won't dare spoil), you soon find out that there are people who have their own ideas on who, or more importantly, what you are. And so you are thrust into a distant future world of strange machinery, bizarre metaphysical phenomena, and otherworldly horrors.

To be sure, Torment: Tides of Numenera is a role-playing game. But it's truer to the definition of the genre than are many contemporary RPGs. You have a role to play, and most of this role-playing is focused around storytelling. Your character, referred to as "The Last Castoff" for very specific and spoilerific reasons, is a big deal in this world, and your choices carry very heavy consequences that impact the story in mindblowing ways, much like in Planescape: Torment. Without giving anything away, the imagination on display is of a very high order -- the writing even more so. Which brings me to a crucial point: there's a lot of reading. My impressions are extremely positive on this aspect, however: not a single word appears to have been wasted.

I won't delve into Torment: Tides of Numenera's combat system until the full review, but based on my experience with the game as a whole, it isn't the focus. Nor was it in Planescape: Torment, and for good reason: it wasn't very good. I would definitely say this game's combat system is an improvement, but I can't speak to the degree of improvement just yet. What I can praise so far is the use of attribute pools to exert more effort in all of your pursuits -- not just in strength, but in traits like speed and intelligence.

If you're a fan of rich, intelligent storytelling and fascinating fantasy world-building, I can already tell you that Torment: Tides of Numenera will most likely be a must-buy for you. It seems like it will go the extra mile to rekindle that feeling we all had when we first woke up on that morgue slab as the hideous Nameless One. We're clearly in for a treat when the game launches later this year, but I would advise you to keep an eye on it. We'll be back with a full review.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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