Following their Baldur's Gate retrospective, Resolution Magazine has now decided to give us a two-page history lesson on Black Isle Studios' timeless masterpiece, Planescape: Torment.
Planescape loves to talk. It is a game that awards you with more experience points for having a quick chinwag with an NPC than it does for an epic fight sequence. Its conversations are lengthy and detailed, the narration complex and involving. There's very little voice acting, which means unfathomable walls of text. They're written in a manner that makes some James Joyce seem accessible. It's sometimes difficult to stomach. It never gets old reminiscing about this game, does it?
Yet therein lays the beauty of the writing. Decoded, it was some of the finest of any videogame in the world, and remains such a decade on. Its brand of corrupted Victorian cockney slang, merged with the elegance of the best high-fantasy literature, makes it an outlandishly unique thing to read through. And although it asks a lot of the reader, the reward it pays is remarkable: it tells a story unlike no other game, in a way that no other game has dared to even try mimicking.
Characters are deep and plentiful. Morte isn't the only companion you can find throughout your journey, though it's worth noting that you can play the whole game as a duo should you want to, and should you steer clear of most of the later fights. (Quick note: it is theoretically possible to complete Planescape having killed only a couple of enemies. I have no idea how this is done, as my game always seems to descend into a bloodbath within half an hour, no matter what I do. I'd love for someone to tell me how.) Palling up with comrades and engaging in lengthy discussion reveals the most fabulous of backgrounds, a touching humanity dripping from every NPC you're likely to meet. This might be a fantastic world, but with such characters it's one that feels natural and authentic, rather than one created to support a table-top game and its computerised counterpart.