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Torment: Tides of Numenera


Miner Willy
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5 hours ago, Garibaldi said:

This sounds great, especially as I was a big fan of the original Torment. But charging £45 for a buggy PS4 version when the PC release can be had for £20? They can GTFO.

 

Hello licensing fees, retailer markup, no secondary market for keys/discs procured from dodgy sources/other countries.

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The reviews and this thread make it sound like Torment is everything I wished for :wub:

 

Currently making my way through Yakuza Zero and once that is finished I got Zelda and Horizon waiting for me. But reading these initial impressions I'm starting to think Zelda and Horizon can fuck off for a month or so. Torment awaits :D

 

Hopefully forumites like @Wiper and @Talk Show Host get started on Torment soon for a definitive judgement on the quality of the writing :)

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I'm still working my way through Pillars of Eternity 1! I'm right at the end of the main game with just a few hours to go (think I'm level 14) but I wandered off to do all the DLC, done the first one but started second. Haven't touched it since October :(

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I've played for a few more hours.  It's brilliant.  Exactly as I would have ever hoped a Torment successor would be.

 

Unfortunately I've picked up a passive ability that has a looping sound effect that's annoying to the point of it being unplayable (with my headphones and sound turned up); so unless I can figure out a way of suppressing it (without turning the sound effects off entirely) I'm not sure how I can play on?  It sounds like an exaggeration; but you guys should hear it.  It's awful.  Have posted in the official forums.  Hopefully there is a way of patching it out.

 

EDIT:- I think I've isolated the XML file that controls this, so gonna have a fiddle later.

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Owing to RL issues, I haven't had the time or more important the energy to really get stuck into this, but I've played the first two hours or so twice and had different outcomes to the first couple of encounters which is promising.  Both characters turned out to be nano - one "slick" the other "intelligent".   In the second run I didn't have to use the sliver of glass during the first crisis so I have it available for later.

 

It certainly is a unique title with the ratio of reading to, well, anything else really, (seems to be a trend of sorts - you could probably say the same of other recent games such as the Banner Sagas and the Dwarves (not that those are anything as complex)).  The density of text is probably unique and the encounter level is something like that experienced in Athkatia with many different styles of speech which is where the mental energy is required.

 

Anyone cautious about console performance after that clickbait review, note the option to use the largest font size takes away the biggest potential issue faced  in these cases.  The odd crash doesn't qualify as total failure in my book.

 

The LE is pretty decent as these things go too with a solid (if macabre) statue, keyring, art book and paper copy of the travellers guide.  

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3 hours ago, Mr. Gerbik said:

The reviews and this thread make it sound like Torment is everything I wished for :wub:

 

Currently making my way through Yakuza Zero and once that is finished I got Zelda and Horizon waiting for me. But reading these initial impressions I'm starting to think Zelda and Horizon can fuck off for a month or so. Torment awaits :D

 

Hopefully forumites like @Wiper and @Talk Show Host get started on Torment soon for a definitive judgement on the quality of the writing :)

 

I am planning to start today actually, even though I was planning to do so a bit later since I have Berseria in its final hours. But I need a bit of a battle break from that and Numenera should be perfect. I am very curious to see how they have set the protagonist compared to the Nameless One, which was -and probably still is- the most astonishing turn on the classic hero's journey storytelling technique.

 

Good to see that initial impressions here are positive though. :)

 

@davejm Which ability is that? I would like to avoid it please. :P

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The ability is called 'Inspiring Presence'.  Sadly, it seems I didn't have a choice in picking it up.  The level up screen showed two abilities; and despite being able to click on them (which led me to believe I was choosing from the two) on my character screen I have both abilities.  Apparently both the 'nano' and 'jack' classes earn this ability.

 

This is very disappointing. Until there is a resolution I just can't play on :(

 

 

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The background/setup for the 'Last Castoff' is great by the way; similar to the way the 'Nameless One' doesn't remember his past lives there is a similar theme running here.  I'm really enjoying the far future sci-fi-esque Numenera setting; it's a great world and the writing quality has drawn me in nicely (I liked the novellas and comic they released too).

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3 hours ago, davejm said:

The ability is called 'Inspiring Presence'.  Sadly, it seems I didn't have a choice in picking it up.  The level up screen showed two abilities; and despite being able to click on them (which led me to believe I was choosing from the two) on my character screen I have both abilities.  Apparently both the 'nano' and 'jack' classes earn this ability.

 

This is very disappointing. Until there is a resolution I just can't play on :(

 

 

 

The sound loop disappears if I move to another area; so panic over and I can play on! :)

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8 hours ago, footle said:

 

Hello licensing fees, retailer markup, no secondary market for keys/discs procured from dodgy sources/other countries.

 

What retailer is there if it's a digital only release? Sony and MS?

 

Not to mention it's been released in direct competition with Zelda and Horizon: Zero Dawn. Dear lord. Techland have sent this game out to die on consoles.

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3 hours ago, Droo said:

Anyone played this on the PS4?  I have an old laptop, but tend to give up on PC games far too quickly.  

 

I've not seen much specifics in the reviews for consoles.

I am - I've only played about two hours so I'm not sure about how 'broken' it is. It loads veeeeery slooooowly and the engine is a bit juddery but I've had nothing outright broken yet.

 

The text is perfectly readable and the controls seem fine (although other than then tutorial I've talked my way out of all fights so far so there might be issues there). 

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I've been a backer since the original kickstarter but only played about an hour of the beta to save myself but I'm looking forward to getting into it.

 

Also talking your way out of all fights sounds right up my street anyway, I always load up on a charisma equivalent in RPG's and very few actually result in using this for much more than dull things like 'moderately better deals in a shop (to buy things to hit people with that I'm crap at already anyway)' ;)

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Apologies for the following post. It's big. :P

 

After spending 8 hours in the game talking to everyone, I now feel completely wasted. The introduction to everything is a crawl and the subsequent visit to the city shows that the game has been stuck in the dark ages as far as gameplay rhythm, introduction to lore and characters goes. It somehow manages to feel older than Pillars of Eternity which had a captivating introduction. It is also baffling to me why using an isometric view means that ALL concepts of the isometric games from 20 years ago have to be present, like we haven't had any advances since.

 

I like the battle system. The approach is simple and clear and the available choices of interacting with the environment a breath of fresh air. Also, the ability to escape some battles completely is a welcome one, although it is not really anything new. The use of the abilities and mechanics like "effort", where you get to pump up your action if it needs more... effort also seem very interesting and I am curious to see how they will play out during the game.

 

The art and the world are, of course, fascinating, but your introduction to them is painful to say the least. Now, I understand that this kind of game scratches our nostalgia itch, at least mine, and saying bad things about it can easily be dismissed with the "hey, this is how this isometric thing works", but this feels so old, and not in a good way.

 

And the main problem is the writing. It simply has too much of it and it doesn't serve much.

 

There are elaborate descriptions for everything that drag the entire experience down. You find paragraphs of details for every item and character, which wouldn't be so bad if the writing wasn't so needlessly dramatic and full of verbalisms. The fact that they also do it for everything means very few things stick to mind. In every other turn there is a mystical machine with multi-branching dialogue trees or an NPC that replies by spewing out entire paragraphs. 

 

The classic mistake that almost all RPGs make is evident here as well: the world exists to facilitate the player and as a consequence it doesn't feel that the player is participating in a living, breathing world. Talk to almost any NPC and they are ready to reveal everything about their life, the city, their dreams, their purpose, etc. Ask them a simple question and they divulge into epic personal tales or paragraph long descriptions of their deepest needs. It just doesn't make any kind of sense. Combine the different sections of exposition, from lore to NPCs to companions to interactions with machines to examining things and it all becomes simply too much.

 

One of numerous examples (very mild non story spoiler from the beginning of the game): 

Spoiler

There is an execution taking place with a gruesome and paranoid way that is so alien and so intimate which really shook me at first. There are people gathered around and you can speak with three of them. All three tell you the same thing with some variations depending on how they feel about it. There is no reason to talk to all three but you have to because, well, it's an RPG, but in the end you do not get anything new. Instead, for example, having one line responses, they describe the same thing and how they feel about it, trying in a way to impose some kind of world reality to me. When I was done, this gruesome execution didn't feel that gruesome anymore. It was so analyzed that it dissolved into a gaming... thing.

 

The problem is that the writers here think they are doing a good job by bombarding the player with immense amounts of descriptions that could be thinned down to one line without losing any impact at all. Actually, the impact would be greater if restraint was exercised. The need for an editor is immense for this game. And it is a shame because there is an interesting story here (way more interesting in the beginning than Pillars) and even though it doesn't escape the thousand year old boring cliché of "the player is probably someone special", it doesn't shove it into your mouth either. The player is free to explore his inner demons. And the writing, when it works, is magnificent.

 

I know many people are just happy going back to the old days, but I am not, not in this way at least. There are many improvements that isometric games could have made in this day and age to make things better, from simple NPC AI in the cities to use of techniques to show more instead of telling (the artistic action drawings of Pillars come into mind) . This is also a visual medium and these developers seem to forget it. Planescape Torment was a product of its time and many things it showed with its writing then simply weren't possible graphics wise. These are different times. I do not want to read how "a light sparks and dances in the old rusty machine that seems to emanate a strange energy" when a multiple branching dialogue tree awaits me below. Just show it to me with a small special effect.

 

Phew. Apologies again for the long post. It is a game that has intrigued me with its battle system and its story and setting and I will keep going, those qualities are clear, at least for now. But man all this writing seems so, so forced. If I actually picked up a fantasy book written like that I would have quit in the first chapter.

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Hmm.  It's a strange one indeed.  I find that limiting playing time to around an hour a session helps a lot to prevent word overload (logorrhea?).  It's extremely dense (and repetitive) in places and of course the quality of writing varies considerably with different writers coming into play.   I really like some of the characterisation work but some is just vacuous (probably deliberately / ironically).  A real Wolfe-ian "book of the new sun" vibe permeates throughout.

 

Finding it a refreshing and enjoyable experience locating both ends of a quest strand by having to work for it rather than simply running over to someone with a convenient ? or ! over their heads.  

 

The traveller dude in the inn (Sir Arthur?)  would have been a good NPC for players to have run into much earlier since he is good at explaining the various categories of numenera.  

 

One of the problems with combat is it's sheer rarity - it's hard to get to grips with all the cyphers and other NPC abilities when you don't get to practice their use fairly frequently.  Other than the tutorial I've only had one fight so far although there are 2 more available at this time (8 hours or so in).  I've heard bad things about some of the later battles for their length and fiddleyness.

 

2 freezes so far ain't grand either although good old quick save limits damage.

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@Talk Show Host : Your example of "not making sense", on the other hand, made perfect sense to me because I'd spoken to T. first. And therefore I had a purpose in talking to the crowd. I suspect it's a problem with this kind of game - it's very hard to corral the player (I almost wrote "reader", which says more about this game than most) to do things in a certain order. Sometimes you have fetch quests where you simply hand over the object as soon as someone asks for it...

 

What it does do well, coming straight from Tyranny (and previously this month, Pillars) - which is fight after fight after fight - is give you shortcuts around the fetch quests. Or more interesting investigative quests that don't just end in a fight. Even the one fight I've found myself in, I suspect I could have skipped through if I'd known more about one of my "powers" and stealthed my way through the Crisis. I suspect I'll end up repeatedly dead at some point, because I'm not picking up that kind of ability on level up.

 

As for " to use of techniques to show more instead of telling (the artistic action drawings of Pillars come into mind)" - you've gone through a Mere, right?

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Yeah, I get what you are saying @footle. My point about the crowd and, generally, writing was mainly to show how much text is wasted on something that would have greater impact if it was simpler or shown in a visual way. In my opinion of course. I am not saying that the writing is universally bad but it feels like they are trying to prove something with it rather than using it to its strengths. And because they do not use writing properly the world feels static, the NPCs feel like drones of information, companion dialogues are not natural, etc.

 

For a game that prides on its writing there is very little knowledge of how to use it to properly build up characters or the world. Dumping immense amount of information for anyone and everything is not the way to do it. That applies to the quest design also (and Pillars is also guilty of all these things). Why use fetch quests at all? What is the point? Why use side quests that take you out of your role? Why expand it artificially?

 

Having the option to ask an NPC you have never met hundreds of questions is simply, for my tastes and post Witcher 3 especially, too archaic and unrealistic. The problem is not only about the writing but also about how the game is designed. There is absolutely very little progress to these kind of RPGs, which was the reason they went away in the first place. Check for example an exception, imo, like Shadowrun Returns and how it nicely deals with dialogue and scene setups, even if it is an isometric rpg. How spartan-like are its locations and yet they seem alive and properly lived in. Also, Tyrrany's world building was exquisitely done, with minimal exposition which helped the game move along in a much faster pace (the constant battles were shitty though).

 

The one thing I was really expecting from Torment, since it is a "writer's game", was for its writing to be modern, breezy and cleverly used with the visual technologies of our era for a unique result only videogames can offer. This, at the moment, feels like an expansion of Planescape Torment released decades ago - I am saying that as a negative :P- but perhaps that is what they intended.

 

As I said though I will keep playing because there is a lot of gameplay still, but I do not expect to see any improvements to how the writing is used.

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Interesting points! As an amateur writer, and a big Planescape Torment fan, the thought of taking part in a huge 'fan patch' to edit Numenera's writing sounds really intriguing. Of course, there's such a huge amount of it that you'd need a lot of people taking part - and individual taste/style means the edit would be a bit all over the place, if it was ever even finished. 

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It must have been a design decision to stick to the old archaic design of PS:T.  I did wonder how they'd approach the game; in regards to the environments and the game world.  The environments are static and sparse (for the most part); with static NPCs placed equidistant from each other on the map just ready to spill their life stories and have you solve all their worldly problems.  One particular quest tasked me with hunting down a creature that was actually standing statically on the map only meters away (just around the corner) from the guy and mob hunting it. 

 

I wondered if they'd make things more dynamic (NPCs going about their business, moving around the map, doing tasks, having more bustling environments) but they clearly didn't go down that route.  You almost have to use your own imagination to create a picture in your mind of a larger city with more going on; and take it that these are just the prominent NPCs that are placed where they are for story/plot purposes; rather than the environments being a true reflection of what the locations would actually look like.

 

It's almost like a 'choose your own adventure' book; with the game being a crude visual way of moving between story points (i.e. moving between NPCs).

 

All of the above doesn't bother me though.  And I'm loving it.  I've really enjoyed the concept and setting and the framing of the story so far.   I've also really enjoyed the writing.  Some of it is hit-and-miss; the companions so far don't seem great.  You meet them, they/you decide (for some arbitrary reason) that they're going to join you in your quest and that's it.  And yeah, the writing is really fluffy.  That said, it definitely feels less verbose than PS:T; but that might just be a perception thing on my part.

 

It feels like I'm playing another Torment game at last; so I'm having a blast.  I do think I'm being really charitable with regard to the issues and lack of modern game design; and I really do think TSH has written a good analysis of things in his posts.  The same issues (that I can see) just don't seem to be bothering me as much. 

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I'm really enjoying it but the load times on PS4 are atrocious. There was one event where there was a machine to examine (trying to be vague) and two of the options teleported me elsewhere (with no warning) so there was a couple of minutes loading screen to get to the new place, then I had to trek back to the machine to check the other options, which meant travelling through multiple areas, each with their own couple of minutes of loading screen in between. 

 

Definitely one to play on PC if you've got the option. 

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I've been studying and writing articles for storytelling and general writing for games for many years myself as a hobby (very geeky, I know, [emoji14] ). Along with the AI, I believe writing is the only thing that's keeping games from reaching the next level. That is why games like W3 or the Last of Us or Life is Strange or some delicious indies are so important (the new Zelda's freedom of interaction is also a prime example of what games are capable of as a storytelling medium).

A massive torment writing patch would be all kinds of awesome, but it sounds like a lot of chaos as well :P.

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I just re-read my post above; regarding the game design...

 

It's funny how I referred to the environment as the 'map'.  I guess that highlights my point; it feels like a representation of key parts of the world/setting rather than a literal render of all the locations and people you'd see in an area were you there. 

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Personally I am totally fine with that; these games mess with my OCD enough as it is. The thought of some sort of dynamic movement of NPCs would render it impossible to play.

 

But, an hour in (ie. just created my character), I agree that the game is way too verbose. They could have done away with about 90% of the words and still conveyed the desired meaning and atmosphere.

 

It also is a bit slow on my crappy laptop. 

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7 hours ago, davejm said:

It must have been a design decision to stick to the old archaic design of PS:T.  I did wonder how they'd approach the game; in regards to the environments and the game world.  The environments are static and sparse (for the most part); with static NPCs placed equidistant from each other on the map just ready to spill their life stories and have you solve all their worldly problems.  One particular quest tasked me with hunting down a creature that was actually standing statically on the map only meters away (just around the corner) from the guy and mob hunting it. 

 

I wondered if they'd make things more dynamic (NPCs going about their business, moving around the map, doing tasks, having more bustling environments) but they clearly didn't go down that route.  You almost have to use your own imagination to create a picture in your mind of a larger city with more going on; and take it that these are just the prominent NPCs that are placed where they are for story/plot purposes; rather than the environments being a true reflection of what the locations would actually look like.

 

It's almost like a 'choose your own adventure' book; with the game being a crude visual way of moving between story points (i.e. moving between NPCs).

 

All of the above doesn't bother me though.  And I'm loving it.  I've really enjoyed the concept and setting and the framing of the story so far.   I've also really enjoyed the writing.  Some of it is hit-and-miss; the companions so far don't seem great.  You meet them, they/you decide (for some arbitrary reason) that they're going to join you in your quest and that's it.  And yeah, the writing is really fluffy.  That said, it definitely feels less verbose than PS:T; but that might just be a perception thing on my part.

 

It feels like I'm playing another Torment game at last; so I'm having a blast.  I do think I'm being really charitable with regard to the issues and lack of modern game design; and I really do think TSH has written a good analysis of things in his posts.  The same issues (that I can see) just don't seem to be bothering me as much. 

 

Just to be clear, I am enjoying the game for what it is trying to do. Less combat is good (although there has to be a balance as @Cosmic_Guru pointed out in a previous post), the setting is great and it feels like it offers many possibilities to the player to proceed. Its verbosity is a unique problem just for Torment and it's a disappointment to me, but it's design issues are common in many rpgs imo. Side quests that make no sense for NPCs to give to the player, NPCs that spill out their guts without knowing the main character, characters that speak like encyclopedias, etc.

 

If only the reviewers actually cared for these kind of things, then many issues regarding writing and AI would come to the surface and help the developers a lot. Developing a theory of writing in videogames would be a great help to the medium.

 

edit: I am playing on a PC so loading times are very fast. But taking 30 or 40 seconds to load an isometric area with not much animation or special effects or NPCs or AI sounds horrible.

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Ugh. So stupid. Either them or me. 

 

I just logged in for my second play session. The screen is zoomed in so far that all I can see is my character and a couple of NPCs. And as far as I can tell the only way to zoom in or out is with the mouse wheel. I have no mousewheel. So I can't zoom out. I tried random buttons (eg. page up/down, +/-, and holding shift with those buttons) but nothing works. 

 

So now the game is basically unplayable. 

 

Got to take back my earlier comment. This game is actively annoying me now. Sigh.

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1 hour ago, Tourist said:

Ugh. So stupid. Either them or me. 

 

I just logged in for my second play session. The screen is zoomed in so far that all I can see is my character and a couple of NPCs. And as far as I can tell the only way to zoom in or out is with the mouse wheel. I have no mousewheel. So I can't zoom out. I tried random buttons (eg. page up/down, +/-, and holding shift with those buttons) but nothing works. 

 

So now the game is basically unplayable. 

 

Got to take back my earlier comment. This game is actively annoying me now. Sigh.

 

Them, unless you can plug in a controller, zoom out, then switch back and see where you get to?

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