The preview is based on the Early Access game available in April 2016.
Torment: Tides of Numenera is an isometric old-RPG which is heavily story driven. Originally it started out life as a kickstarter project, boasting to be the successor to the original “Planescape: Torment”. Set in Monte Cook’s Numenera universe, you can expect to see dark and distorted, yet beautiful scenery as well as fully developed characters.
GameplayThe gameplay is very much comparable to the old diablo and fallout games. This means that you’ll be wandering around a lot, with not much happening in-between. That’s not to say it’s boring however, it’s very clear that a lot of thought went into creating this world and it really does show. The game’s aesthetic is extremely refreshing to see, as it’s very focused on crafting detailed environments.
The controls are very basic. You move your mouse and click. There's minimal keyboard input, aside from some nifty shortcuts to your inventory and such, you'll be using your mouse to fight, travel and talk throughout the game.
Speaking of inventory, the game has a looting system. It's just a carbon copy of every other RPG, honestly nothing of note to say about it. There's also a distinct lack of item variation, though that might be resolved when it leaves early access.
Whilst travelling you’ll come across many different companions that are able to join your party and aid you in combat. The characters themselves (for the most part) are fully fleshed-out, constantly guiding you in their own way which tells you a lot about the characters’ personality.
Walking around with your new-found friends, you’ll encounter enemies in which you’ll have to fight. Unfortunately, the combat doesn’t add anything new. It’s extremely similar to the fallout 1 and 2 games due to the fact that it’s all turned based, in addition to having to manage action-points within those turns. Each member in your party can offer something new to the battle, whether it be healing allies or AoE attacks. It’s a nice addition to combat, but it doesn’t add enough to the combat for me to say that it’s unique in any way. On top of being fairly generic, there's no sense of urgency, as your turns can last for as long as you want. The game seems far too generous with how many actions can be performed in a turn as well, making combat fairly easy.
The game is extremely story based. It’s essentially a book that’s been turned into a game. It’s a good book, granted, however sacrificing more in-depth gameplay for in-depth story makes the game feel quite lacking. You want to progress through the story, but the gameplay doesn’t bring me back in. It’s an odd contrast that makes me wonder why it wasn’t just published as a book instead. For some, the story will be more than satisfying to keep coming back to, but I suspect that, for a lot of people, the initial grip of the story will wear off due to it being split up with sub-par gameplay. The fact that the story goes into a lot of detail, makes the split from story and gameplay even more contradictory to each other as you'll often find yourself forgetting names and details just because you were focused on trying to find out where to go next. Within the dialogue, there's also a lot of opportunities to use up action points from a certain skill in order to get what you want. Depending on the character, they can do this easily or they may fail the persuasion.
StoryAs mentioned above, the story is solid. It’s interesting, and beautifully narrated. The voice acting (when it decides to play) is extremely well-done. When reviewing a game that’s this heavily story focused, it’s hard to avoid spoilers, so I’ll try to summarise it without giving anything away.
So the game starts you off in an odd dream-scape (Side note: The start of the game tells the most incredible story. I really don’t have the morality to spoil it, just know that if you like reading, you don’t want to miss it). The implication is that you’re trapped in your own mind, or that of someone else’s. After traversing through this alter-universe, you then plummet to the ground and crash into the “Ninth World” (I said I’d try to summarise it, I didn’t say it’d be simple). You are then greeted by two characters who, after a while, direct you to a nearby town. I should mention that, these two characters that greet you set up an extremely interesting part of the game, in which some companions will work with you just to help, whereas others have more malicious intentions in mind. Within the town is a cult. Upon their discovery they then inform you that you are a part of “The Changing God”. It introduces a nice RPG feeling here, as you can lie to the cultists and say that you are in fact, the actual God itself.
After this awkward encounter, the game actually gives the player an impressive amount of freedom. From this point on, it turns into a well formed "choose-your-own adventure" style of game. Honestly the old school RPG feeling is incredibly refreshing to see these days. It’s not often that an RPG lets you influence the story to this extent nowadays. As for the main story, it’s bends and runs off in many different tangents dependant on your choices. There are also a lot of side quests, such as helping sentient robots to die. Basically, the story forebodes a very dark tone, which actually makes some companions seem a lot lighter hearted and cheerful, which is oddly charming when they interact with you. There's also a great deal of flashbacks. However, to make it more interesting, the flashbacks are mostly other peoples memories. Or even those of someone from a past life.
GraphicsThe game provides players with an extremely unique aesthetic. It combines dark and gruesome backgrounds, combined with nice lighting and busy environments, adding to the overall “feel” of the game’s dark tone. The textures themselves are very well designed. The lighting also shines on scenery very nicely, which makes it a lot more immersive. All of the different areas are varied, with different landscapes and hazards dotted around, it genuinely feels like you’re in a living, breathing world - giving the creepy and gruesome scenery much more of an impact due to how intimately it reacts with the protagonist.
The isometric view lets you see a lot more of the environment, giving the game a much wider scale due to how much you can see. In fact, the scale of it all really puts your own character into perspective, how small they are in this huge world.
SoundThe sound in Torment is, for the most part, exceedingly good. The quality of the voice acting is impeccable, as is the narration of given-segments.
Regarding the music, it's hard to give a verdict on it. It certainly adds to the feel of the game but I found all of it rather boring if I'm honest. It doesn't correlate with what's happening on the screen, making it feel down-right awkward at some points.
It's quite odd is how good the voice acting is in comparison to the music. Not that the music's bad, but it just seems so basic to be in this much of an intricate game. It really isn't very memorable at all.
ConclusionIn conclusion, the main aspect of this game is incredible. The writing, voice acting and choices have all been meticulously crafted in order to provide an incredible narrative experience. However, the initial charm and interest wears off after a while as it becomes increasingly apparent that, as much as you may enjoy the story, the gameplay really doesn't do it justice. The sprawling environments, incredible narration and beautiful voice acting, accompanied by fully-fleshed out characters really does add for an incredible story driven experience.
If this was a review for a novel or something similar, it would get a solid 9/10 from me. It’s honestly one of the most gripping story in years. However, that doesn't mean that it’s a good game. There’s only so much a brilliant story can do.
Overall, I’d give Torment: Tides of Numenera a 6.8/10. Even with an incredible, mind blowing story, don’t forget that this is a game. If the gameplay is lacking, it gives less meaning to the story itself, making it more of a slog to get to the next story section rather than having engaging battles to accompany it.
That being said, it’s still an enjoyable experience. If you’re a fan of the old Diablo, there’s a really high chance you’ll get some enjoyment out of this. That is, if you’re willing to pay a premium price for it. Torment: Tides of Numenera is available on Steam early access
And of course it is still not a final release so in a few months some of the bugs and issues could be changed and improved.
But for now at its current state I would give the game a solid 6,8 / 10.