I played a bunch of old-school RPGs back when I was younger; Baldur’s Gates, other D&D properties and a few of the Fallouts as well. I had never touched Planescape: Torment, so I was pretty intrigued to try Torment: Tides of Numenera, as I started the game I wondered which aspects of the genre it would reflect in this modern offering; I tried getting into T:ToN as much as I could, but ultimately just hit my weary brain against a wall of pre-established lore and way too many NPCs to chat with. I didn’t have a bad time, but I also didn’t feel like I was connecting with the game, I was always waiting to get to some point that might not even exist.

The way the game started was very powerful, in an entirely text-based setting you have to try and survive the birth of your character - and I was extremely impressed that you could die right there and then if you really worked towards that on purpose - and then you are thrown into a small tutorial dungeon where the game creates a character for you using the answer you give to a few situations. You’re also explained the ‘effort’ mechanic where you have to spend Might, Speed or Intellect in order to succeed at the various tasks during the game, such as interacting with the environment or fighting your foes. These stat pools replenish when you sleep - but in the many hours I’ve spent with the game I don’t remember finding a place to sleep at all, which was weird.

Then I fully created my character, selecting a class, abilities and a descriptor. I went with a mage and took some skills to read thoughts and heal wounds. The way you need to train skills in order to not suffer penalties is interesting and I really focused on making a intellect-based character, thinking I would complement with the rest of my party later. Then I got into the first battle, a very cinematic affair against a huge monster inside of my mind. The battle system looked fairly easy to use, allowing for one movement and one action per turn, allowing you to spend Effort to deal extra damage and do additional effects with your attacks. I was really disappointed because this tutorial fight is the only one I’ve had for my whole time with T:ToN.

I was then thrown immediately into a huge city, already full of interesting characters, factions and dramas unfolding in front of my very eyes. It was a bit much. Each section of the city had tons of NPCs to interact with, some of them had quests, most of the quests I found had solutions in the city, so I walked back and forth here and there, reading pages after pages of lore about all manners of machines and characters that inhabit this world. I gained a few levels just by walking around and solving problems and clicking on everything. I got myself a dark chaos monster installed in my skin, I recalled ancient memories of languages my character knew,

Maybe it’s just the spot where I am right now but I couldn’t get into it all at once. I wish the game had separated or railroaded the initial experience a bit more to give me time to process each quest and work towards the big picture alongside a few side endeavors here and there. I wanted to see more of the battle system, I tried to pick fights, but all I could do was talk about a dozen different subjects. This does great for setting the scene, the atmosphere and the ambiance, but it’s not doing it for me on the gameplay front. Maybe there could’ve been a way for this game to unfold that would’ve felt inviting to me, maybe it was just a lost cause.

I had an okay time with Torment: Tides of Numenera, but couldn’t get past the first city. For all I know - and it’s probably mistaken - the whole game takes place in that city, it’s so vast and full of things to do.

AuthorJérémie Tessier