Torment: Tides of Numenera is the spiritual successor to 1999’s Planescape: Torment, which managed to wow audiences and score great review from critics. Tides of Numenera tries to follow in that very same light and while some aspects of the game are very well done, other areas certainly need some fixing. The game will cater to anyone who of course played Planescape but also, anyone who really enjoys a story-driven role-playing game that places more attention on interaction with the environment rather than combat.
What to Expect
To be quite frank, Torment: Tides of Numenera will require a lot of your attention because, for a majority of the game, much of what you’ll be doing is reading. While the narrative is exceptionally well written and feels like you’re reading a fantasy novel come to life, anyone new to the franchise will perhaps have a hard time trying to grasp everything since it’s all thrown at you immediately. Luckily the game does provide a lot of hands holding for those just joining in on the fun, so it doesn’t quite hurt the experience all too much.
If you’re looking for a lot of questing and battling hordes of enemies to level up your characters, Torment: Tides of Numenera is just not that type of role playing game. Just have a dictionary ready because there’s going to be a lot of words that pop up that may be foreign to you. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, especially in our case being writers ourselves, having the extra vocabulary under our belt is quite rewarding. Those who don’t fancy wordplay will probably have some trouble putting together all of the metaphors and similes that are scattered throughout the game.
Torment: Tides of Numenera is set in a far distant future where much of the world’s civilization has been left in ruin, leaving the remnants of Earth in this medieval state. Much of humanity is left to reside in very simple settlements, surrounded by relics. Everything takes place in what’s known as the Ninth World, and you experience the game through the viewpoint of the Last Castoff, a human host whose body had been used by a powerful being but then suddenly abandoned the body which resulted in you losing all memory of past events. Now it is your mission to recollect your memories while coming to understand the truths behind the artifacts known as Numenera, and the Sorrow which is casting a dark aura over the world.
Story Rich, Combat Poor
This is already a given from the moment you boot up the game, that Torment: Tides of Numenera is nothing like your typical combat styled role-playing game. Heavy emphasis is placed on providing a very rich story which feels very endearing the more you dive into it, but often times you get lost in all the narrative. We’ve never played Planescape: Torment before so our perspective on everything will differ from those who’ve experienced it. Everything felt very new to us, similar to a child being born into a new world without any clue as to what’s going on. We could certainly relate to the main protagonist for that very reason since the two of us were thrown into this uncharted territory and are told to figure things out as they happen. It all seemed to be a total blur to us, even when we ventured through most of the game simply because the narrative is so thick that it overwhelmed us a little.
The beginning provided little hand holding and instead threw a ton of words at us and hoped that we’d understand. It felt like a teacher trying to force a young child how to read a sentence when that child isn’t even able to comprehend the vocabulary being presented to them. Of course, as we stated before, learning new vocabulary is always interesting and quite rewarding, but for someone who’s just starting out in a game that’s completely foreign to them, these things can often be off-putting. Torment: Tides of Numenera’s gameplay comes in the form of complex interaction with its dialog tree system meaning, the decisions you make while reading often impact the later parts of the game.
For example, depending on what you chose in the early portion of the story the game will tell you what class it feels is best for you which was pretty nifty. Based on our decisions throughout the narrative we were chosen to be Nano, or Wizard in simpler terms, which was pretty cool because we’ve always loved wizardry style characters in every role playing game. If you aren’t pleased with the outcome, the tutorial will walk you through how to make the proper changes in order to personalize the character to your liking.
For some reason, however, despite enjoying the calm and often times very moving dialogue, the game just felt too slow for our liking. To make matters a little worse, the PlayStation 4 version suffered a lot in the frame rate category oftentimes stuttering when our player would run around the level, making combat feel clunky at times. It made playing through it all quite cumbersome, especially when you have to sit through a handful of dialogue just to even get to the gameplay section. We don’t mind reading as it’s quite stimulating at times but when you can’t perform tasks efficiently due to slow down it really steals that experience and makes you not want to play at all. The PC version certainly performs a lot more smoothly, so if we had any recommendation we’d say to grab the PC one over the console version. If you own only a console and still want to play the game then, by all means, do so, because aside from the slips in frame rate you’ll still find the rich narrative to be endearing.
Going back to the character creation section for a brief moment, the classes that you can choose from are Glaive (Warrior), Nano (Wizard), and Jack (Rogue), all of which come with their own perks and setbacks. These classes can be customized even further through descriptors such as Tough or Learned, and foci which allow you to master a certain combat style. Tides are used to interpret reactions that you receive from peers and are distinguished using specific colors along with a number of other interesting concepts we’ll leave you to discover. Torment: Tides of Numenera is a very deep and complex game where you’ll always need to be aware of what’s happening, otherwise you’ll get tangled up in this world of mystery and find it hard to get out.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
If it weren’t for the constant hiccups that we experienced throughout the game, perhaps our enjoyment would’ve been more stimulating. Overall, Torment: Tides of Numenera isn’t going to be for everyone as we stressed earlier and so if you’re really looking for a fast paced in your face type of gameplay, you’re certainly not going to find it here. It takes a lot of elements from its predecessor while throwing in more modern themes to keep things feeling fresh, but at times feels bland when the dialogue between characters gets a bit redundant. The dialog tree system was really intriguing since it really felt like the game was trying to understand you on a more personal level, to accommodate your gameplay style which we thought was a huge plus.
It reminded us of those online quizzes where you’d answer a bunch of questions and based on your decisions, the quiz would determine what type of character you are. More games should honestly implement this type of system into the character customization algorithm since it really tries to connect with you more as opposed to just giving you a generic canvas to paint from. Would we play through Torment: Tides of Numenera again? Probably not on the PS4, but perhaps when we feel like reading we could easily turn on the PC and get it running again. There isn’t much to it after completing it, but as we said there’s a lot to absorb pertaining to new vocabulary so if you’re a word junkie like we are, then going back to pick up some of the words you missed is kind of fun.
Very very deep and complex storytelling.
The dialog tree system was very cool and rewarding.
Character complexity is always a nice thing.
Beautifully designed levels add to the thematic feel of the story.
Feels very Diablo-esque but with a much deeper and riveting story as its centerpiece.
Poor framerate issues on the PS4 version take away from the experience.
May be too slow for players who prefer the more action-oriented RPGs.
A lot of big words that may confuse players.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Torment: Tides of Numenera is certainly going to be a treat for anyone who has played Planescape: Torment, or just any text based adventure game where heavy emphasis is placed more on the story than the gameplay. With our industry constantly evolving and more companies taking on the more action oriented role to cater to a wider fan base, picking up Torment: Tides of Numenera was a breath of fresh air despite having to deal with some issues along the way. Be that as it may, we recommend this game to those who enjoy a deep thematically satisfying story, but for everyone else, it’s entirely up to you as to what direction you take.
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!