Torment: Tides Of Numenera is a CRPG (Classic RPG) set in a very distant future, almost one billion years ahead.
Developer: inXile Entertainment
Publisher: Techland Publishing
Release date: 26 Jan, 2016
Genre: Adventure, Strategy
The world changed in ways so inconceivable, that little to nothing stayed the same, countless civilization rose and fell in this monstrous timespan, each leaving behind major or minor signs of their passage. Technology, society, culture and humanity itself evolved, twisted, changed to a point where nothing is what it seems anymore.
And after all this, you wake up.
Nameless, without purpose and cast-off from an unknown place and time, all you knew is now lost. You awaken in a reality you do not recognize, everything around looks alien and distant, this is not where you belong, or is it? And so your adventure to find the mysteries of a distant future, but moreover the mysteries of yourself, begins.
Tides Of Numenera’s gameplay can be defined as the most classic role-playing experience there can be. It takes inspiration from old classics like Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and Drakensang, but still introduces innovations to the classic formula in a subtle and effective way, varying the gameplay enough for it to be fresh and different from being “the same old RPG”, but keeps it original and classic just enough to give the player that “feeling” only the masterpieces of old can.
The major component of this title is, as you can guess, ruolistic. A good 70% of the time spent in Numenera will focus on analyzing ancient technologies, talking to countless varied lifeforms, bargaining your way through hardships, or simply exploring the world and see what it brings. I will say it bluntly, if you are looking for a game with a lot of fighting, action and dynamics, this is not what will satisfy you, as this is not an Action RPG and not even a Modern RPG.
Depending on what abilities and feats you chose to bestow upon your characters, via a character creation panel and a series of dialogue choices in the beginning of the story, every interaction with anything, be it an unknown piece of forgotten technology (or Numenera as it is called in this world), or a hostile thug in an alley, will change massively. And i mean massively.
For example, a high Perception will grant you the ability to spot body language which tells you if someone is lying, knowledge of Mystical sciences will see you able to make ancient machines work (or at least try to do so), while good old brute force will aswell be useful against the less civilized beings you surely will encounter. The variations in dialogues and interactions are truly a monstrous number and it will take many playthroughs to see everything, many indeed.
Also, all your actions will increase the alignment of your characters with one of the Dominant Tides, forces existing outside of reality and to which people align more or less depending on the nature of their actions. A character with strong emotions, passion, extroversy, will be for example aligned to the Red Tide, while a more scientific, logical and pragmatic mind will surely be aligned to its opposite, the Blue Tide. It is said Tides have been powerful forces on which many past civilizations built their power, and they influence reality more than it is imagined, but this is something for you to discover…
Each action your character will perform, from moving rubble from a passage to convincing some guards to take a bribe, will be fundamentally linked to one of the three Stat Pools, which are Might, Speed and Intellect. When in a dialogue, or even a combat, an action which involves one of these attributes is triggered, the player has the possibility to put more Effort in said action, increasing the possibility for it to succeed and improving its effectiveness, but at the cost of spending more Stat Pool points, which can then be only regenerated by resting. By advancing in your adventure, you will be obviously able to improve your basic skill with these actions, so that you will get a better result with less or no effort at all, depending on how complex the task at hand is.
Moving on to Combat, know that as a CRPG, you will find that it is obviously Turn-Based. Each of the characters under your control will have two action points each turn, one for Movement, and one for Action. You may spend both in moving, but only one in Action per turn. Movement on the battlefield is completely free and is not bound to any grid. During combat, there is possibility to interact with the environment, or even with other NPCs which could be involved in combat, and may ask you to help them if your skills are suitable to do so. Effort and Stat Pools are again fundamental in Combat and having a balanced party is very important, because the enemies you will face will be varied in nature and form.
Evasion is derived by speed, Willpower derived from Intellect, and Endurance derived from Might. Each of these statistic will play, along with Resistance and Armor, a fundamental role in any combat scenario, determining resistances and effectiveness to and of attacks, chances of delivering or getting a negative status (or Fettle in Numenera). Another component of combat are Cyphers, which is a fancy name for one-time, unique consumables, which often are pieces of long-forgotten technology, each delivering an often powerful and unique effect, but almost always usable only once. However, having too many of these powerful artifacts can lead the untrained individual to suffering great negative effects because of their ancient and mysterious forces combining together passively.
Performance wise, Tides of Numenera is well optimized and runs smoothly. We obviously are not talking of a technically monstrous title, so it should run well on even old systems.
Quality wise, the title is set in a undoubtably high level: effects, environments, textures and sound design are very well done, character models tho suffer a bit of aliasing and could be more detailed, but it’s a minor setback.
The game world is crafted beautifully, both artistically and functionally, a real sight to admire.
Bug wise, in all the hours i spent before this review i never noticed a single bug, polygonal compenetration, pathfinding error, interface glitch or else, on this point the InXile team did a very good testing and fixing work.
Torment: Tides Of Numenera is definitely, surely, positively a masterpiece of modern times. It adds innovative gameplay elements to a classic and tested formula and blends them flawlessly. The setting, story, characters, environment and interactions are all finely crafted and blend together very very well.
This is probably the best work the InXile studios pulled off, i strongly recommend this title to any person who loves RPGs, or who wants to start out knowing RPGs, or just wants to read and live a very good story. This is not just a common RPG, not even a good RPG, this is a masterpiece of Gaming.
(click on the image to see the rating explanation)