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Infinity Engine RPGs are coming to your favourite console from September 27

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1 hour ago, Alan Stock said:

 

Wasn't Icewind Dale the combat focused dungeon crawler co-op one that started out life on PlayStation?

 

You're thinking of Baldur's Gate: Dark Aliance I think.

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I played through Baldur's Gate and Torment for the first time last year. Baldur's Gate holds up pretty well - it's wilfully obscure in places, there are some boneheaded difficulty spikes, and the city of Baldur's Gate itself looks weirdly like 1950s America, what with the too-clean late-nineties rendering style and the very un-medieval straight roads. The lore and the dialogue make it sound like this crumbling hive of danger and adventure, but when you actually get there, it looks as dangerous and exotic as Center Parcs. That aside, BG feels like a transitional game that links the horrendously unfriendly crpgs of the eighties and early nineties and more accessible modern rpgs, in that it is brutally difficult and doesn't really go out of its way to teach you anything, but has a very slick interface and generally deigns to explain to you what you're doing wrong, and where you have to go next.

 

Torment, on the other hand, feels like it could have come out yesterday. The structure is extremely modern, in that it encourages you to experiment and to mess around with stuff with little in the way of consequence - combat is almost irrelevant (and could almost be removed altogether), and it very gradually and cleverly introduces you to the world and the setting. You almost always know what you have to do and where to go to do it, but there's also just enough of a mystery to give you agency and to keep you interested. I'm generally not that into fantasy, nostalgic attachment to the Forgotten Realms aside, but this is so fantastical, so alien and (crucially) so consistent that it feels more like science fiction than fantasy. There are a few bits that should have been smoothed out or reworked when looked at from a contemporary perspective, but it genuinely doesn't feel 20 years old. It's a minor masterpiece.

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There are a couple of bits in Torment where it stumbled, I thought. Overall, the game teaches you to not really bother about combat, given that you can rest just about anywhere and your party members can't really die, so you can pretty much grind your way through. There are a couple of bits - the circular prison in Carcer springs to mind - where the grinding got a bit too much, and it became pretty tedious (although I imagine that I probably missed a clever way of skipping the circular prison). And the big action sequence just before the final confrontation was an instant-death nightmare that could easily have been removed.

 

There's another bit where I was completely stuck and had to resort to a guide, and the solution was to speak to one obscure NPC who was extremely easy to miss, where there was no particular reason to suspect that this person would know this information. If you happened to miss that character (as I did), then short of scouring the entire game exploring everywhere and talking to everyone, it's hard to see how you could progress (it's the siege engine bit, if anyone's wondering).

 

My main criticism of the game would be the fact that you can progress through being clever and insightful, but the cleverness comes from the character you're playing rather than you, the player. If your character has a high intelligence or wisdom, and you've learned a certain piece of information, you can almost invariably avoid a difficult fight by selecting a particular dialogue option, and you can almost always tell which option that is because it appears suddenly, and is usually hugely more erudite and clever than the other choices. You almost don't have to think about the dialogue to know it's the best choice, you can just skim it; it might be better if the player had to do a bit of thinking too, and select an option that used the information you had in a clever way - like, if there were three, clever, erudite options, but only one that used the information you had in a logically consistent way, or in an especially threatening way (depending on who you're talking to). As it is, you can progress just by waiting until a new dialogue option appears, and selecting that, which is satisfying but would be even more satisfying if it was an actual puzzle.

 

For all that, two or three wobbly bits and a potential improvement to an already really good mechanic is pretty good going for a game that's two decades old. I'm not sure I'd replay it on console - it feels like the perfect game to play with a cup of coffee in one hand, and your mouse in the other - but it's definitely worth picking up for those who haven't tried it.

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Very similar to the few criticisms I posted in the GOG thread back in 2011:

 

On 07/02/2011 at 13:00, Miner Willy said:

Well, I finished Planescape: Torment on Friday night, and was completely blown away by it all over again. Fairly big spoilers below, so if you have any interest in the game then play it instead: it’s so worth it.

Spoiler

As I posted earlier in the thread: the first half of the game is brilliant. Right up until you defeat Ravel I would say is close to perfection in terms of pacing and story-set-up. I loved the way the characters were introduced, and that they were so well developed – and the fact that they aren't what they pretend to be, but that you can get to the bottom of it all by quizzing them: Morte's deception; Dak'kon's enslavement; Annah's feelings for you. The "Don't trust the skull" bit I thought was especially smart.

That first half concludes with the superb Ravel face-off, and I loved the dialogue in that scene – and of course it’s there that you really start to understand that the whole thing hangs together brilliantly, and that this definitely isn't going to end up with some typical RPG quest.

However, after that point I confess I began to doubt the extent of my love for it. During the second half there are clearly sections which were rushed during development (Curst especially) - and then some parts where it becomes a little too focused on combat (under Curst), which is of course not PT's strongest suit.

It does recover though, with the brilliant Pillar of Skulls section, and then I just loved the return to Sigil: visiting Mebbeth again and understanding more of Ravel's story (and re-visiting Keris Serai in the brothel); and then the ultimate irony of the portal to the game’s conclusion being located in the very place you started - one which TNO doesn't fail to acknowledge, of course.

So you get to the Fortress of Regrets, and again, the game takes a mis-step. I found the first trial (where you have to run past the shadows) pretty painful, and in the end I had to go back to an earlier save, grind up a couple of levels (this despite having done almost all of the game’s side quests), and then return with a well-stocked supply of charms in The Nameless One's inventory. Even if you were sufficiently powerful, it’s still a trial-and-error section, and entirely combat/running-based. I understand that it works from a narrative point of view, but it’s not the game’s finest moment, for sure.

Still, I made it through second time round, and went on to meeting the three other Nameless Ones... and it's there that I understood just how clever the game is. I thought this section was one of the best moments in the game: the dialogue is again superb, and the unveiling of what had actually happened fit as perfectly as any film – and of course it's all done with a superb flourish. I had actually forgotten all of this stuff from the first time I played it, and the truth of it hit me just as hard as before. Suddenly you realise that this genuinely is a personal tale: that even the main enemies are all the products of this one man's actions, and that ultimately his entire quest is all an attempt to undo the wrong he originally did. Pretty much no strand is left untied, apart from the idea that the companions have entered the fortress before, yet are alive. I confess still don't understand that aspect.

I felt like this revelation completely justified everything that had gone before. Even the design of the Transcendental One, which I'd previously felt was the game design showing its age, suddenly makes complete sense, and again, you marvel at how well it all hangs together. (Even the earlier sections, such as Pharod & Trias aren't the narrative pawns you first dismissed them as – they all fit perfectly, as essential parts of the overall narrative)

And then the final 'battle', which is best off not fought, as the best ending is achieved via conversation. A fitting end, with The Nameless One's friends brought back to life, and he himself heading off to pay his dues in the endless torment of the Blood War. I thought it was a perfect conclusion, and of course really emotional - not least because of Fall From Grace's words when she vows to find TNO in that dark place, no matter how long it takes, and that he must fight to remember her through his suffering. Watching him pick up the mace and head off to war was a real lump in the throat moment for me.

As the credits rolled I sat there in awe: amazed at the quality, and with that bittersweet feeling you get when you come to the end of an amazing book, TV series, whatever.

I feel fortunate to have played this game twice 'as new'. It's 11 years old, but I genuinely think Planescape: Torment may be my favourite game ever.

They don’t make ‘em like they used to.

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Yeah, I would completely agree that the first half of the game hangs together better than the second half. For a game that's 35 - 40hrs long, it has an unusually strong sense of pace and narrative drive for the first 20hrs. The upper wards derail that a bit, and it never quite recaptures that laser focus, and the way it effortlessly flows from one sequence to the other (even though the second half is full of gold and the ending itself is brilliant, as you say).

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This thread inspired me to have a re-run through Planescape Torment on iPad, and I just finished it.

 

I won't repeat my previous comments as they're linked upthread anyway, but suffice to say that the iPad version is good, the game is still brilliant, and it really is the best ending of any game ever.

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Got back from Brum to the news that we have release dates - 3 tranches, one of which is slightly strange but hey ho.

 

Quote

Coming Sept 24, 2019 (North America) / Sept 27, 2019 (Rest of the World): 
 
Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition Pack
Celebrating the series’ 20th anniversary, the original Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition and its sequel, Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition, return with all DLC and restored quest content, as well as the Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear expansion, featuring new original content developed by Beamdog to bridge the two games.
 
Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition / Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition
Two must-play games and all their DLC in one package – the chilling Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition, plus its expansions, and the enhanced edition of 1999’s RPG of the Year, Planescape: Torment.
Coming Dec 3, 2019 (North America) / Dec 6, 2019 (Rest of the World): 
 
Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition
The 2002 Computer RPG of the Year and all its DLC deliver 10 standalone D&D-based adventures featuring co-op and online multiplayer.  

 

 

I don't really get the pairing of PT and ID, but probably day one here for BG.  Not sure what "all the DLC" relates to for NWN given that there were some pretty meaty expansions which if anything were better than the original release (or so I've read).  All will doubtless become clear in due course.

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10 hours ago, DeciderVT said:

Physical releases, too. I hope they can cram all of those remastered editions into Switch carts.

 

Dont the switch carts have a higher capacity than the blu ray discs used for ps4? Albeit a bit more expensive for the larger capacities.

 

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46 minutes ago, Luseth said:

 

Dont the switch carts have a higher capacity than the blu ray discs used for ps4? Albeit a bit more expensive for the larger capacities.

 

 

Some of them do but we've seen companies shying away from using them due to cost. Hoping we don't end up with a situation like a typical Capcom release, with DLC or other games offloaded to the eShop and a voucher in the case.

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I can't imagine a 2D game, HD or not, filling up an entire blu-ray. 

 

Fwiw, when a switch game gets above 16GB devs/publishers tend to offer the remainder as a download - apparently that's the line for it getting too expensive. The theoretical upper limit of those wee cards isn't relevant.

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