It's been awhile since my last session with Planescape: Torment, so it's great to see a little retrospective article on Black Isle's RPG classic over at Play.tm.
For those who get sucked in PS:T is a game which will cause the thinker to challenge his very perception of the real world, and will shortly after lighten the mood with base-level tongue-in-cheek humour - not dissimilar to the dialogs in Fallout and Fallout 2 with which PS:T shared much of its development team. Much to the credit of lead developer (read: creative coordinator) Chris Avellone, the interweaving of the graphical design, musical score and novel-like finesse of the game produces something that is more emotionally immersive than anything else synthetic I've come across.Well, that's it. Time to install it again.
A towering juggernaut of a man with the complexion of a corpse, The Nameless One awakens on a mortuary slab with no memories, a splitting headache, and what appears to be a message from himself tattooed onto his back in paranoid verse. His quest then begins, to discover who he is, where he was, and why he is immortal. To begin with his only aid comes in the form of a floating skull named Morte, who seems to be happy to tag along for reasons unknown. But whilst being helpful, this comically-inclined disembodied head-case shies away from what seems to be the important questions with sarcastic humour, and personality flaws which he blatantly acts-up. As the story progresses it appears clear that his hidden identity is heavily intertwined with The Nameless One's past.
Uniqueness and extremely well thought out personality depth define all seven of the player characters who can join The Nameless One's party, every one has a deep and rich history tangled within incarnations of The Nameless One's past. These stories are integrated throughout the game, but not least of all in that PS:T allowed you, unlike previous Black Isle games, to hold conversations with your party characters whenever you desire. These turned out to be very well conceived and often in-depth conversations which, if the right options were chosen throughout the conversation sequence, could massively affect your game - causing the character in question to experience stat gains, generate unique items, leave the party (permanently), or even attack the player.
The game is enriched by many imaginative and fascinating locations. One that jumps to mind are the halls of the Society of Sensation. A private membership faction who's pursuit of the aesthetic is such a powerful driving force in their life that members will go to great lengths to seek out new sensations. The Brothel of Intellectual Lust is likewise creatively designed - a place for men of high society to come and converse with a variety of female-ish creatures from across the planes, ran by a self-described "fallen" succubus who now abstains from stealing the souls of mortal men.