I knew Torment: Tides of Numenera would be good: I played the beat a bit before it was officially released, so I knew the writing was there, which for a spiritual sequel to a game known for its writing is a pretty huge deal. There were some technical issues I had with the game but luckily it seems like a lot of the were addressed, like my biggest issue, the character creation. All in all, I am very pleased with the final game, despite I haven't yet played it through. There's a lot to read with this one, as that's what main bulk of the game is all about: reading. Just like with Planescape Torment. Now, as TToN has been released, I guess it's time to start thinking if it's great.
As said, Torment: Tides of Numenera is a spiritual successor to a game many people deem a classic and one of the best CRPG's ever made, despite personally, I think the RPG aspects of it are more a miss than a hit. I do think it's one of the best games ever made though, solely because of how well its atmosphere and writing elevate it above the hiccups it has. What I'm saying is, that for many people, I included, Tides of Numenera has some big shoes to fill.
So let's tackle the writing first. TToN has roughly 1.2 million words in it. In contrasts, King James Bible has about 783 thousand words, so about 400 thousand less. Original Planescape Torment had a script around 800 thousand words. So yeah, if anything, TToN is chatty. Not every character in it has a lot of say, but those who do, have a lot. You can spend hours in reading the lore of the setting if you feel like it, picking up tidbits about the pen and paper RPG that was used as a basis for TToN. The amount of text also reflects upon the voice acting, as only some key characters are voiced and even them not fully so. Companions have a couple of lines of voiced speech in order to give them some flavour, but voicing every bit of speech the game has would have been an expensive task, not quite in the realms of the 4 million budget collected through Kickstarter.
Not that amount of words counts if the writing isn't good. Thankfully I do think it's pretty solid. Not everything is interesting, but all is mostly well written. There are people who are mostly lore dumps, but thankfully you spot those pretty quickly and can choose not to discuss them if you're not into that. It pretty much works in a similar manner as it did on Planescape.
The style of writing is also more consistent than it was in inXiles previous retro revival RPG, Wasteland 2. W2 never managed to convince me that it was a believable setting. The writing was too laced with throwbacks and felt too much like a forced attempt at writing hardcore, apocalyptic text, laced with characters who never did manage to rise above caricatures of though survivals of the desolate wastes. Despite that, I did enjoy the first half of Wasteland 2. It only was the second half set in LA that really collapsed upon itself, as before that it was at least enjoyable if not great.
TToN, on the other hand, manages to weave a believable tapestry of a world millions of years in the future and manages to be bit familiar and utterly strange at the same time. Now granted, I'm only at the Sagus Cliffs at the moment, so maybe the same will happen after I get out from there to the other areas. Maybe the floor will collapse under the story. But from the looks of it, I don't think that is a real danger.
Graphically TToN is quite pleasing. The style is, again, isometric RPG, like its predecessor, was, but unlike back in the day, TToN benefits greatly from having high-resolution backgrounds, lovingly detailed and rendered. All the characters are 3D and look mostly pretty solid. There's some animation that feels a bit wonky, but overall the game is quite pleasing to look at and definitely a tad more colourful than Planescape Torment was.
As TToN, just like PT, is an RPG, there's combat in the game. And for what's it worth, the combat does work much better this time around. PT never managed to be really good in combat. It had tolerable, but essentially a bland real time with pause system. TToN has a turn based system, which allows for a more tactical approach, but at the same time hitting your enemies isn't always the best way to go. You can choose to roam around the combat zone, finding things to use against them, like powering up old engines or weapons.
I think this is enough for now. I'll write up some more musing after I've left Sagus Cliffs behind me. But for now, I'm content. inXile seems to have managed to pull it off, in creating a worthy successor to one of the most praised games in history. Here's hoping it lasts.