Going into Torment: Tides of Numernera I didn’t really know what to expect, I’m not much of an RPG player and mostly favour the likes of GTA, Crisis or RTS games. But also never being shy about something new I quickly went about booting up the game, maxing out the graphics and hitting start! I knew that the game continues in the same thematic legacy of Plantscape: Torment from the late 90’s, which is actually about the last RPG I played.
When the game begins I was greeted with a black screen with white lines reminiscent of falling and the sound wind roars through my headphones. Below a text console asked a series of questions to setup my character. I instantly flashed back to playing Zork as a kid – awesome!
After your character lands and opens their eyes you are greeted with an artistically beautiful environment rich in colour. Movement is point, click and scroll although I found myself using the keyboard to move the screen as doing this with the mouse and screen edge is really a pain.
All interaction with other characters is text based so there is a fair bit of reading and little voice acting. You move around a 3D (however non-rotational) environment looking for clues as to who you are and what you are here to do. There are many artefacts, items and other paraphernalia to collect as you go. All the “missions” you pick up along the way are recorded in your journal. I found the journal really handy after a while playing the game as you forget what you are doing from one mission / quest to the next or in my case step to step!
There are many towns’ persons to interact with who all layer out a complex and deep storyline to the game which I shall do my best not to spoil. You have multiple choices as you speak with them which control how the story unfolds, so be careful who you decide to kill off or offend early on. When wandering around looking for swag I found that using the tab key shows you all areas of interest which saves hours of hunting around with the mouse.
As you collect your various warez you will need to use the inventory sheet where you can very effectively arm, cloth and upgrade your character(s). There is also a screen where you can upgrade your character’s attributes as you accumulate XP from completing quests, collecting stuff and talking to the townspersons and creatures you encounter. Then there are the Tides, these seem to be like Karma for actions however I didn’t really see their impact in the game with the limited progress I made in the 15 hours I played the game before having to write this review.
In a very real way the developer have achieved this (can’t comment on the ending part though as I didn’t get even close to seeing it), the richness of the narrative is especially compelling and adds so much feel and grit to the game. The graphics while certainly not pushing the limits on any modern graphics card are incredibly artistic and paint a vivid picture with rich colour.
The philosophical element to the game is fascinating and I’m somewhat reluctant to mention it at length as it really is a bit of a spoiler. I’ll just say the game plays with the belief system of reincarnation in a very insightful and playful manor which I found though provoking.
With all the niceties now out there I feel justified in saying that there were a few gripes I experienced playing Tides.
There were several points in the game where I found myself wandering around talking to every person I could find so as to work out what the heck I was doing next, the journal helps however until you work out who tells you about what which leads to the next story point is dull and frustrating. I should caveat this with the possibility of the noobness and/or ineptitude of the game player however if I can blunder my way through Portal then this, while different, is not as mentally challenging.
There are some factors that keep Tides of Numenera from being truly great. It would have been nice to have a lot more voice acting so I didn’t have to read all the text as it gets tiring after a prolonged period. Secondly – loading screens, seriously it’s 2017, surely with the processing power of modern-day PC graphics cards, shouldn’t loading screens be a distant memory by now?!
I see a strong sense of Wasteland 2 in this game and this makes allot of sense as fans of the game should know that the same team also made Tides of Numenera. It’s worth noting at this point that I enjoyed the game to the point that I will be going back to play further after writing this review and am honestly having issues stopping myself playing now however that’s just procrastinating writing the review and you want to know about the game and it’s a good one, I’m sure fans of the series will love it as even as an outsider to the genre I thoroughly have been and will continue to enjoy playing.
Graphically the game is simple and beautiful, creating a highly stylised world. The artwork is truly unique and is richly colourful. The soundtrack could certainly use some improvement as I found myself listening to my own music rather than the in-game soundtrack. The interaction being limited to text is really a shame and a missed opportunity to do something more immersive however it was still very effective and the game is certainly engaging due to the depth of the story.
The gameplay is fluid and the turn based combat system works well. The inventory and upgrade system is simple enough and the journal is an absolutely brilliant feature.
The depth of the story and the multiple choice / choose how the story unfolds element is flawlessly executed and really causes the hours to flyby while playing Tides of the Numenera. This self-proclaimed Deep, Thematically Satisfying Story certainly kills it (for out silver surfers out there that means Good, like raining peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out a 20 story flat good)
It’s worth noting that today on release day there is a 1.5GB update to the game and details are scarce as to what this contains. The ultimate question really is: is this game worth buying and I’d say a resounding “YES!”