Having played TToN fully on PC with a mouse and keyboard, I had little insight into how the console version would play. I turned to our resident expert.
A Word from Our Console Specialist, Christopher Coke
I’ve enjoyed my time with Torment on the PlayStation 4, and I think it’s important and praiseworthy that InXile has again brought introduced a PC-centric RPG to the console ecosystem. That said, my time with the pre-release code has been less than ideal.
Unfortunately, the game is just not performing the way any reasonable gamer would expect it to. Despite the relative simplicity of the environment’s and models, hitching abounds. Virtually any time I began moving after being still - say, in a conversation - the game would stutter and hitch. Laggy menus also make the interface feel unresponsive. Worst of all, the load times are atrocious. Areas are small and anytime you move from one to another, you’re met with a 20-50 second loading screen. This was particularly bad in the first city where I would often spend more time loading into zones than actually traveling through them.
Torment is perfectly playable on PlayStation 4 and all of these issues can be addressed in a day one patch. Stay tuned, but for right now it’s clear that PC is the place to play.
This brings me to my other, though less significant, criticism: Just what the heck is up with currency acquisition, item prices and the cost to rest? There is no resting at will unless you’re willing to pony up what ends up being a monumental cost to do so. Potions to restore stat pools are prohibitively expensive too. Those two combined make talking your way out of a situation, or finding an alternative path through it, much more attractive.
HINT: In the first area, make the Cult of the Changing God your go-to sleep spot over the Inn. Trust me, you’ll be glad you filed this away.
Discovery is in the Journey
Questing is without a single doubt the shining star at the heart of Torment: Tides of Numenera. There is an extensive, mind-boggling ability to participate in dialog with hundreds (thousands?) of NPCs and to learn volumes about the game world and about your character through tooltip descriptions when highlighted or selected. There are big and small stories from nearly everyone the player speaks to and how they react is largely dependent on previous actions and from the way the player has chosen to present themselves to the world.
The best part of questing through the story in Torment is how “sandboxy” it feels. This is something that will decidedly appeal to gamers in the current era who pine for real choices with real consequences. Decisions have visible effect on the world and on the way others around your Castoff react to him or her.
FACT: Torment delivers story in spades.
The only caveat to the questing experience is the sheer number that are available. Again, this is not a bad thing necessarily, but it might be seen as overwhelming to a player not used to the way that cRPGs play out. At the same time, this is also the beauty of the system in that players can pick up myriad quests with complex requirements to fulfill before the entirety is discovered and completed. Most quests have a number of steps to go through prior to “finishing”. Players used to picking up a quest, performing a nearby task and then returning for a reward could be vexed without a proper introduction to the way that cRPG questing takes place.
Of course, what cRPG would be without a progression system in place? I’ll stay out of the specifics as they are truly best left to discover, as is virtually all of TToN, but I will say that the same way the story is a slowly unraveling one, so too is your progression and growth in a more literal gameplay kind of way. When you do gain enough knowledge to move upward and expand your repertoire, it is well worth the wait in most cases. Expanding a stat pool or enhancing a skill or adding a new ability make all the talk, all the questing, all the traveling back and forth worth the effort.
The one thing I would have liked to have had included in the game is a respec option, even if expensive (which would fit since everything in TToN is expensive!). Leveling and skill enhancement / progression is complex and a mistake can cost volumes throughout the game. Being able to reassign skills or stat pool assignments would be a fantastic addition.
Beauty in Every Sense
Lastly, a word on aesthetics: Torment is beautiful. While heralding back to an earlier era in cRPGs with seemingly less-complex graphics, the game is still firmly planted in the current generation graphically. Locations come in an amazing array and are varied and complexly designed with their own unique color palettes, environmental sounds and textures. Combat animations and spell effects are gloriously detailed and real “eye candy”.
The score is really nice as well and is well-suited to the locations in which it is played. Sound effects in combat or in locations are also well-suited. Voice-overs where provided are well done and professionally rendered, though I might have liked to have had more included.
Fun Fact: Erritis is a crack up.
In the End…
Planescape: Torment is universally heralded as one of the finest cRPGs ever made and sits firmly on the top of the “best of” lists for the genre. All of the most memorable elements that reside in my mind of my long-ago experiences with Planescape are revisited in Torment: Tides of Numenera and are improved upon. The game holds up to its legacy and brings new, unique elements to bear. Torment brings a level of interaction and effect on the game world that is not common even in this star-studded genre. Every choice matters. Every word and every fight makes a difference somewhere in the game world and it is up to the player to discover how.
While appealing to players of the first game or longtime fans of the genre as a whole, new players will also find much to like about Torment, most notably the experience of playing a game that isn’t funneled down a pre-determined avenue of “discovery”, but one that rewards exploration, time and diligence to NPCs and locations and much more. If you love cRPGs or finely crafted, complex stories and interactions, Torment: Tides of Numenera is the game for you.