Torment: Tides of Numenera (Xbox One)

  • Gameplay
  • Story
  • Audio
  • Visuals
  • Entertainment

Also available on PlayStation 4, Linux, MacOS, and Windows

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Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 05/19/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night

Torment: Tides of Numenera is a CRPG (for those not into RPG sub-genres, it stands for computer RPG; it’s sometimes called “Western RPG” to differentiate from JRPGs), and that’s a genre that is really hit-or-miss with me.  Modern 3D CRPGs like The Witcher, Fallout, and Mass Effect are games I absolutely adore, but 90s style ones like the original Fallout or Wasteland are a lot harder for me to get into.  This is one of the latter 90s style CRPGs, and it definitely took me a while to get into Torment.  Once I got a feel for it, though, I really got into the game, and I was glad about that because this one was a gift from Colin, and I’d hate not to enjoy a game that was given to me as a gift.

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You start off the game miraculously surviving a plummet to earth from what seems to be either a space station or moon in orbit.  You have no memories prior to waking up mid-fall, but you quickly learn that you’re a “castoff,” a body formerly inhabited by someone called the Changing God, a person who has found ways to transfer his consciousness from one body to another.  You also quickly learn that you and your fellow castoffs have a particularly strong connection to an unseen force called the Tides and have the ability to affect the world around you in a variety of ways.  You quickly meet your first two companions and they agree to help you seek information regarding how to repair the damaged “resonance chamber” next to which you awoke.

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From there, you journey from location to location completing quests, interacting with new characters, and learning more about the Ninth World and the worlds that existed before it.  My biggest gripe with the game is my usual complaint about 90s style CRPGs – the combat.  I found it cumbersome and uninteresting.  The character interactions, however, I found to be extremely enjoyable.  Fortunately for me, the game really emphasizes giving you control over how your character approaches situations, so with just one exception, I was able to either quickly escape from or avoid every single fight in my playthrough including the final boss.  I could have fought tons of battles throughout my playthrough, but I focused on my character’s Persuasion and Intimidations skills and managed to talk my way out of almost everything.  That level of player choice – to use the sword or your wit – is one of my favorite things about RPGs, and it really redeemed my enjoyment of this one.

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Visually, the game looks fine.  It’s not going to impress anyone, but it certainly doesn’t look bad by any means.  The environments are all detailed and well done, and that’s the most important thing in these games in my opinion.  The star of the show here is the world-building, and that’s expertly done in Torment.  There are a lot of choices that affect the path your story takes, so there’s a ton of replay value, and there are more companions than you can have at one time.  Given that these companions affect the conversations you hear and can have an impact on how other characters interact with you, there’s a definite incentive to do future playthroughs with different party compositions.  The best part of the game for me personally was being able to avoid conflict entirely through speech skills.  That’s a really nice touch and definitely helped my RPG immersion.

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Torment: Tides of Numenera is a solid fantasy sci-fi CRPG that I ended up enjoying a LOT more than I expected to.  It’s a genre that I frequently dislike when it’s the 90s style like this rather than the 2000s style like Fallout 3 and Skyrim, so I was pretty unsure about it at first, but it definitely grew on me pretty quickly.  It only took me about 15 or 20 hours to go through, and it was absolutely worth it.  There were a few bugs, but none of them were major or game-breaking; it was mostly just some missing text that left speech bubbles just saying “Error.”  The world and story are pretty deep, so if you’re looking for a light or largely mindless adventure, look elsewhere, but if you want depth, moral dilemma, and deep lore, then this is definitely the game for you.

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