REVIEW / Torment: Tides of Numenera

A wonderfully unique RPG adventure.

Full review is below the video review.

The RPG genre is probably one of the most evolving genres in gaming, with developers always trying to put a unique twist or spin on aged old role-playing mechanics. Torment: Tides on Numenera does the opposite, drawing inspiration form games that helps pioneer the genre, providing one of the most compelling narratives I seen in modern RPG’s.

The game is set a billion year into the future, where the world has seen a variety of civilisations come and go. The evidence of these civilisations is littered everywhere throughout the beautiful Ninth World; from high-tech portals to medieval settlements, there’s always a new intriguing structuring catching your eye. It’s not only civilisations that’ve come and gone, so have gods, well, one god in particular. The story focusses around The Changing God, a being with the ability to create new bodies for himself. However, when his use for this new body has come to an end he simply throws it away; that’s where you come in, as these thrown away shells create a new life within themselves, referred to as Castoffs.

You play as the ‘Last Castoff’, the most recent throw-away of The Changing God. Being the ‘Last Castoff’ is the least of your worries, as over the centuries The Changing God has been disturbing an evil entity know as ‘The Sorrow’. The Sorrows aim is simple, destroy The Changing God and all of his offspring, which, of course, you set out to prevent from happening. The main story arc, which becomes apparent pretty early in the game isn’t the most original or captivating story you’ll play through, but it does a great job as acting as a vessel through the ever-intriguing Ninth World.

The most intriguing element to the Ninth World has to be it bizarrely unique inhabitants; from flesh eating cultists to broody millennia old robots, there’s no doubt it’s the wonderful characters you meet on your quest that provide the most memorable moments in Torment: Tides on Numenera. So many of the characters you’ll come across have the ability to be interacted with, this can be from a simple conversation that share information from their background to them providing you with one of many side quest. The side quest are far from the simple go-here, do-this, collect your reward. Instead they encourage you to explore the Ninth World, regularly educating you on it’s rich lore. It was these discoveries that had me so engrossed throughout my 40 hour play through.

Not only were these interaction my favourite part of the game, they are also the majority of the game. All the narrative in the game is delivered through on-screen text, and a lot of it. The amount of reading Torment requires would so often disengage me from a game, however, the writing here is so consistently good I often felt like I was delving into a classic adventure book. The best thing about this is that the book is still unwritten. This is due to you having almost full control on how you interact with someone, as well as having to decide how to approach some huge morally challenging decisions. Although I did end up loving the text-heavy approach to the narrative, at times it did take me out of the game. On one occasions I entered a bar to search for clues around a side quest, however I spent almost 2 hours talking to everyone in the bar before I found out the information I needed, making me forget why I even went there in the first place.

When starting the game you can chose from one of three classes; Glaive (warrior), Jack (jack of all trades) and a Nano (Mage). As you’d expect each class brings it own unique perks, which in Torment: Tides of Numenera are hugely contrasting. For example a Nano has the perception ability, so they can read the after-thoughts of a person when in conversation, giving you a huge benefit when trying to negotiate. They also have the ability of ‘Perception’, where you can spend skill points to look into something with greater detail. The Glaive has neither of these abilities, however, they’re very powerful with weapons and have the intimidation ability, allowing you to potentially change someones mind in a conversation – all these unique class abilities reminded me of good old D & D, and that felt great.

These abilities play an even bigger part in Torment: Tides of Numenera due to it’s unique battle system called ‘Crisis’. A Crisis can be initiated by yourself or come out of nowhere; but what make them unique to other RPG’s is the fact they don’t have to end in bloodshed. You have several choices on how to approach each situation; you can go it swinging your sword, or you can try to talk to the enemy and reason with them, you can even use the environment to help give you an advantage in these battles. Although these ‘Crisis’ offer you different ways to overcome them they still feel a little unpolished, the use of your abilities often felt a little underwhelming and melee attack where very inconsistent in actually striking a foe. Torment has a lot of strengths embedded within its gameplay, unfortunately the combat is’t one of them.

Torment: Tides of Numenera is one of the most immersive RPG’s i’ve ever played. Exploring the inviting and gorgeous Ninth World and conversing with it’s memorable inhabitants was a pleasure. The combat does feels a little out of place, but your never stuck in a battle for too long, allowing you to return to the captivating narrative the game consistently offers. The heavy text based delivery can take a couple of hours to get into, however, when you do get into it, the game feels like an unfinished adventure novel that you are writing page by page.