To say Torment: Tides of Numenera is an eagerly anticipated game would be an understatement. The crowd-funded game, which at the time was the most funded video game on Kickstarter, receiving just shy of 4.2 million dollars from 74,405 backers, was initially slated for a late-2014 release, but since then its release date has been pushed more than once and is currently expected to come out in 2016. An early access version of the game, however, is now out on Steam, where you can play the first ten or so hours – if you’re willing to face the myriad of bugs users have been reporting.
Titled a spiritual successor to the highly acclaimed Planescape: Torment, Tides of Numenera nonetheless features an entirely new setting and game mechanics. It is based on Monte Cook’s PnP RPG setting Numenera, a world that is currently in its ninth ‘cycle’ – the current civilizations exist atop eight prior and now gone civilizations – and in which the relics of the past, often pieces of technology whose full significance has been lost to time, are scattered throughout the world and a central piece to the setting itself, as the encounter between the current civilizations medieval-level of technology with the much advanced levels of technology from the past gives these remnants an almost magical aspect.
The first thing that struck me as a stark contrast from its 1999 predecessor is how, much to its benefit, colorful the world is. Rendered with the same engine used for Pillars of Eternity, Tides of Numenera ditches the combat-centric nature of the former in favor of a more adventure-like experience, with developers inXile claiming there are only ‘a dozen (or so)’ encounters throughout the game, which can range from actual fights to time-sensitive situations and which often offer you several different ways to get through them (you can get a better grasp of the encounter-mechanics with this video of the Crisis system).
Currently available to certain tiers of kickstarter backers and those who purchase it on the Steam storepage, the early access of Torment allows players to go through the initial segments of the game’s story, which has shown itself to be narrative-driven and relatively combat-free, focusing instead on your interactions with other characters of the world and how your choices affect them and Numenera – something closer to an adventure RPG, rather than a combat one. With players of the early access claiming it to be riddled with bugs, however, participating in the beta is something that likely only those reminiscent of Planescape: Torment will wish to do, or those who are certain they’ll enjoy the full game upon release.