Torment: Tides of Numenera Previews

We have rounded up a few more previews for Torment: Tides of Numenera, inXile's spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment, which is currently out on Steam Early Access. The game's writing has been reviewed quite enthusiastically so far, which is giving me high hopes for the final release.

RPGWatch has an article based on the very early sections, because the writer ran into a critical bug after the tutorial:

You might be wondering how this new installment compares to its namesake, Planescape: Torment. P:T might have started out with a lengthy dialogue (with a talking skull), but that felt far more like starting a fresh game of any of the old Infinity Engine games - you got through it after a minute or two, and your quest began. I felt like the new Torment was far less interactive, at least in the sense that all you were doing was going through a sort of dream state, doing little more than making dialogue choices that moved the narrative along in a slower way. I didn't do a word count to compare the two or anything, but I felt myself reading way more in Torment than I did in Planescape, possibly because Planescape's dialogue seemed to move faster. Maybe more was going on, I don't know. But I felt the keen urge to hurry the game along this time around, hoping to get to the more active parts.

At present, the extent to which you actively customize your character is limited to choosing your character's gender. This was one option I was happy to see, and I was also happy to see that all it did was decide my avatar; it didn't affect the story in the least. As for the rest of your character - class, skills, and all the rest - that's decided by the choices you make in dialogue and the memories you choose for your character. When you did this thing that you're remembering, did you use speed, strength, or wit? Did you face down your foes, or did you try to strike a compromise? There's a gazillion of these choices, and when you're done and ready to advance past the beginning, the game presents you with your character screen for the first time, giving you one last chance to change your character's class or skill set before moving on into the game proper. This differs from Planescape in one crucial way: in Planescape, you made your character in the beginning. In this installment, your character comes to life based on your decisions in the dialogue.

Mouse N Joypad compares it to Pillars of Eternity and feels that InXile's title comes out the strongest:

From the initial (birthing) sequence to the exploration of the first city you literally crash into, Tides of Numenera has a unique oomph to it. The atmosphere is nailed down perfectly and is highly reminiscent of Planescape: Torment, and to say that the static backgrounds are gorgeous in their weird, otherworldly way would be a severe understatement. Over the course of a single hour, Torment: Tides of Numenera has succeeded in completely and utterly enthralling me (once more) with its universe, a feat PoE hasn't achieved after nearly a month of on-off playing it. Even at this stage of development, InXile have a special jewel at hand, and they're treating it really, really well.

Perhaps it's a very personal experience, but the static-image dialogue-choosing sequences sit amazingly with me in Torment. Not only are they all a fascinating read, but each snippet also offers additional information to the task at hand in one way or another, allowing you to make an educated decision when the time comes. In comparison, the very same sequences as they are found in Pillars of Eternity feel drab and strangely derivative. Perhaps it's down to the fact that Torment is a strange mixture of sci-fi and fantasy, and I simply prefer that to the good-old vanilla setting of old RPGs of yore, but it's made a lasting impact on me in any case. I feel confident in saying that the storyline and plot are the most important elements of Tides of Numenera, and that's definitely a good thing, because no matter what way they are conveyed to the player, it all works phenomenally well.

That is it will hopefully work once the game is done. Torment: Tides of Numenera has only recently been released on Early Access, and people expecting to get a solid experience out of it should tread carefully. As it currently stands, Torment is buggy, laggy and runs like a wet, drugged mutt with both of its hind legs broken. I'm not even joking, as the very first scene may well run at less than 10 FPS for you at the time of writing this article. The performance goes way up once you're done with the first sequence, but it's still far from ideal. I would like to point out, however, that no optimization's been done at all as of now, and the game is likely to run just as fast as PoE does. And yes, the engine InXile are building Torment on is licensed from Obsidian, so no worries in that regard.


The adventure begins just like in the previous build. The main character is falling from the skies and he has a hard landing in a mysterious room with a sarcophagus. There is also a quite long sequence in the protagonist's mind which is a sublime way to create a character (we will discuss it later). After that we reach the most important part of the content several districts of the city of Sagus Cliffs. This is where we spend time achieving goals of the main story or getting involved in some secondary plots while exploring that extraordinary place. Just like Sigil in Planescape: Torment, Sagus Cliffs isn't one of these virtual cities meant to simulate a living world. Actually, it's something like a huge gallery of curiosities, full of breathtaking views and characters only waiting to show us their unusual appearance and tell their amazing story. as well as encourage us to contemplate various philosophical and metaphysical problems, etc. There is no place for trivial NPCs and mundane questions these things exist only in the form of unimportant background.


It must be emphasized, though, that the combat isn't a gameplay element that the developers use very often (unless you decide to play an aggressive character). Tides of Numenera isn't one of the RPGs which entertain the player by forcing him to fight wolves, bandits and other random enemies every 15 minutes. After what I saw in Sagus Cliffs, I am willing to believe when the developer says that each )crisis) here is hand crafted and has a certain place in the story and that in almost each such situation you can avoid spilling blood thanks to your smartness, persuasion, observation or other non-combat talents of the character.

Even during the character creation you can see that combat doesn't have to be your character's main focus. Among skills you can gain, there are mainly various types of knowledge or talents connected to exploration, diplomacy or general manual capabilities; and these skills really affect the gameplay. Swift fingers can give you a chance to obtain some artifacts, you will avoid fight with bandits thanks to deception and with the anamnesis you will recall the language of wild creatures you are supposed to negotiate with. That allows you to approach every task in many different ways. Having created a persuasive character I was able to avoid every )unpleasant) situation during the first ten hours of playing. Sometimes you can also use eponymous Tides to solve problems they can be described as a kind of mysterious energy divided into five aspects of human personality (attuning to Tides and picking the one which dominates the character's personality is the biggest part of the prologue). It is also worth mentioning that sometimes the game requires us to solve puzzles although it is even possible to use other solutions.

GameReactor UK:

In our game we were able to talk with one of these corporeal nightmares and even touch it. As we are an old body of the Changing God, a particularly powerful one at that, we were taken to the Temple of Dendra O'hur, and there we received a shocking proposal. They wanted permission to eat part of our flesh and thus absorb part of our experiences. To this sect we are an unimaginable delicacy, full of life experiences that take many years to assimilate. But they will not kill us, it's not their style, they're not actually evil.

Indeed, we can refuse and go quietly on our way... or we can agree to be the main course of a macabre feast. If we agree, we will have a permanent physical defect, but at the same time we'll get some unique memories, special allies, and some other advantages. But the important thing is not that we get this or that power, it's what we live, the experience, the underlying story. It is a morbid example, disgusting perhaps, but it's reminiscent of a Planescape: Torment mission where we let an embalmer delve into our guts in search of an antique ring. It is the kind of thing one expects to see in a Torment game, and we have seen it again and again in Tides of Numenera.

The narrative of this game is based on the written word, on the literary text. This can feel somewhat contradictory in a video game, as it has visual tools to tell us stories. If a character combs his beard you don't have to write about it, you animate the character doing it. Not here. The graphics are merely an interface between the player and what he or she wants to do, the visuals merely provide information about what is really happening. They are a stage, a backdrop, there to put you in the moment.

Finally, Eurogamer's Robert Purchese writes about a "wonderful surprise" he found at the beginning of the game. Expect light spoilers:

Then I get my second proper choice and I'm allowed to dive again, and I'm imagining with a little daredevil grin the kind of entrance I'll make below because of it, so I do it, peeeowwww, and hurtle downwards. And then there it is, the boundary, the game's concession: it says I've reached terminal velocity and am miraculously slowing. I do a sort of pompous, know-it-all snort. Oh well I tried. And then I click "continue".

"'Slow' is a relative term," it says.

My snort is cut short. What's going on here then? "You knife through the air, piercing its veils and... you have no time for the poetry of falling." Impact. My skin explodes and my organs liquefy. "Your life was utterly and completely meaningless."

God. That doesn't sound good. I can't wait to see how I get out of this. I continue.

"Game Over."

Excuse me?

"Your story ends here."


"Most of your body is splattered across the ground. Your sole legacy to the world is a small crater near Sagus Cliffs."

That's it, I have to return to the menu. A Game Over in the first two minutes. I can't believe it.