Jump to content

Infinity Engine RPGs on console - gather your party and venture forth

Recommended Posts

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.

  • Upvote 6
Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

  • Upvote 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

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.


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.

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

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).

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

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.

  • Upvote 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...

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



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.

Link to post
Share on other sites
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.


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 months later...

These are in the mail from Simply games but curiously not yet available to pre-order digitally.  There seems to be absolutely zero hype - maybe one or two previews that I might have missed, but pretty much under the proverbial radar.  Problem is, I don't know where to start.  I was messing around with a fighter / mage in BG during the summer world cup and that was tasty - firstly fling around a few AoE spells like sleep or grease and then pile in with the weapons, but I also want to try some of the more rogue specialist kits..........

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thankfully it rained a lot yesterday so making it easy to spin up BG.  Bear in mind I've played this in a variety of formats:

  • the original 4/5 cd version on PC, buggy as that version was;
  • the ee version on iPad from day one (3 hours to download it over some shitty cafe wifi)  (probably the most experience with this one and certainly the most recent);
  • the ee version on steam.

Compared to the above, the console version feels a little old fashioned, not necessarily in a  bad way.  The iOS version is incredibly fast and flashy on a suitable screen but can be a little tricky at times with entrances and with differentiating between taps and longer holds.


With this you forgo quick saves and only have 10 save slots (sounds fine unless you have multiple characters on the go), plus one auto save at the edge of an area.  


Control is pretty easy and just takes a little time to get acquainted:


  • Pause is the menu button on the XB controller, and this allows you to give individual instructions in combat as for other versions;
  • Selecting any of the UI items from the left hand side of the screen (inventory, spell book etc) is via the right trigger and the right bumper moves between the characters;
  • inventory management is pretty easy since characters who can use an item are highlighted, the impact on THACO and AC is identified immediately, and again you use the right bumper to transfer things - opening bags of holding and splitting stacks are handled with the y button;
  • Re-arranging your party or creating sub groups is possible via the left trigger but that action will be used more frequently to toggle AI on or off;
  • Display and other options seem very similar or maybe identical to the IoS version - you can select when the game auto pauses, whether to have different coloured circles around your team members (I really like this) etc etc;
  • Finding the tiny "hidden" items and navigating doors and stairs is extremely easy - just use the left stick to identify what you want to action;
  • Font size is absolutely fine even without increasing it to the max -> lying on the couch playing this is totally feasible :)
  • For many menus when finished you click the right stick and confirm rather than having to negotiate all around them.

I think the old fashioned aspects come from the heavy grey stone feel to the UI, the rumble as you land a critical hit, the appearance of the spell book... just various things.  It also feels a bit "sticky" at places and actually froze once which isn't good.


Regardless, I rolled an assassin, a palladin and an illusionist and took the last all the way down to the entrance of the Nashkel mines yesterday. Not sure whether to rock on there or make my way back to High Hedge for some shopping first.


Still finding bits and pieces in this I've not encountered before e.g if you protect Prism so that he completes his master work and it happens to be night you see exactly what he did....


Also that is just one quest where there are a number of ways of completing it.


Finally (for now).  Who nowadays would be batshit crazy enough to still introduce new companions after dozens of hours of play?

  • Upvote 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Thwomp said:

I've bought the physical release of BG, but I was hoping there'd be a digital version of Planescape Torment, because I don't want Icewind Dale.


There should be digital versions of all of them available to buy separately but for some reason they don't appear for pre-order yet on XB at least.

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, mdn2 said:

They're available to preorder on Switch, but only in their double packs. 


That's not particularly helpful in this situation, if people don't want one, or aren't sure about the games.  Oh well I expect they will go on sale before long.  And one can always point to Dragon Age Origins and Pillars of examples of what to expect gameplay wise.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You will see I've had my two pennath on that feature!  I reckon the Switch version is the odd man out to be fair - the IoS or android versions with touch controls are the way to go if you want to go mobile.    PC may always be easier and more intuitive since all you need is a mouse and a space bar, but if that isn't an option, it's great these are now available to a wider audience (and for what it's worth BG is much easier to control and to read, and lacks the nasty loading times of Pillars).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wanting a big Western RPG for Switch portable play this month and my shortlist was either: BG/BG2, Witcher 3, PoE, or D:OS2. I know they are all vastly different of course.


The EG article has put me off the Infinity Engine games; PoE is apparently utterly broken on Switch and the dev has admitted it and is struggling to fix it (shameful); I struggled to get into Div OS 1 a couple of years back and never finished that (didn’t like the combat much or the writing); and I played about half of W3 back at launch but drifted onto other things.


Probably gonna be Switcher 3. I’m sure it will be different this time. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.