If you're an older CRPG fan, or an enthusiastic CRPG player in general, you might be familiar with the title Planescape: Torment. It's one of those old CRPG's that people look back teary eyed, muttering how things were better in the past. I'm not sure that things were better in the past, but Planescape: Torment is one of my favourite CRPG's, not because it's a great RPG, far from it, but because what it is: an ambitious, cleverly written, sprawling epic with piss poor combat system. Without the writing, it would have been just horrible game.
Now, years later, inXile, the company Brian Fargo built after leaving Interplay, is making an another Torment title. Unlike Planescape, Torment: Tides of Numenera isn't based on D&D rules (which Planescape: Torment didn't really follow that closely anyway), but Numenera rules (in all honesty I know very little of the pen&paper game, so I can't tell how well it uses the rule set). So while the realm has changed, there's still a promise of a similar sprawling, densely written epic, that requires you not only to read, but to make real choices that will effect on what happens to the world you are in. And there will be much less fighting than in your standard CRPG's, as most of, if not all, battles are hand crafted.
Now, bear in mind, the game I'm talking here is BETA. It's not finished and it has things in it that will change. That said, I like it quite a bit. inXile's previous flash from the past revival was Wasteland 2, a sequel to a game that was made in the 80's. It was, I thought, merely an okay game. Not great but not bad either. Torment is in an entirely different ball park. Another thing, besides the company making it, that connects Wasteland 2 and T:ToN is, that they both are crowdfunded.
As Torment is a spiritual continuation to a game a lot of people think of as one of the best CRPG's ever made, it's no wonder if inXile is trying their hardest in order to make this right. And for what there's in the beta, it does look like they're going into a right direction. What counts the most to me, the writing and the design, are very solid. The world that opens up feels like a nice mixture of odd, bizarre and familiar. There's alien creatures, customs and items. It all looks and feels just right and gives the PS:T vibe without trying to carbon copy it directly.
The interesting thing about the game system itself is the use of effort points. You have three pools, for might, intelligence and speed, which you can get more with leveling up. When you do a task, like try to persuade someone or try to move a heavy object for an example, you get to see how difficult the task is. You can use effort points to make the task easier, but you only have limited amount of appropriate points to use. So you need to decide how much you want to ease your way and balance with the points so, that won't be running out, as resting in order to replenish your reserves takes time and during that time you might miss your opportunity to try again. The points are also used during combat in order to make hitting easier or just to misdirect the enemy.
Overall, at this phase of the beta, Torment: Tides of Numenera feels more like a adventure game with RPG elements in it, the same way I've always felt about Planescape: Torment as well. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that inXile will manage to pull this off.
If you want to get a taste of Torment, you can do so at the official inXile site or wait a bit for it to hit Steam early access.