What is Torment: Tides of Numenera?
Torment: Tides of Numenera is an isometric role playing game set on Earth a billion years in the future. With civilisations having come and gone, the game begins as you plummet to Earth from an exploding moon, and crash through the roof of a building. While the fall would have killed most people, you're not an ordinary person. In fact, you're not even mortal. A remnant of a being known as the Changing God - a man who's learnt both how to shift from body to body, and the secret to immortality - you are one of the Changing God's many cast-offs - a shell he left behind once he got bored. With a fragmented memory being the trade off to your immortality, it's up to you to find your way in a world where normal is a word long consigned to the past...
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How do you play Torment: Tides of Numenera?
A more traditional role playing game, Torment is a game that's light on combat, and large on dialogue. Exploring the towns, caves and cities, you'll need to spend your time chatting with the unusual residents of the land in order to progress, as many will have tasks they need help with, or moral quandaries they'd like you to solve. Whether you're trying to save an innocent man who's been put on trial, and is currently being strangled by his own confessionary words; solving a murder involving a group of cannibals; or figuring out the best way to repay an adventurer for the loss of his airship, there's a wide range of incredibly unusual quests and tasks for you to complete, as you delve deeper into the bizarre world. With many dialogue options to choose from, it's often up to you to work as an intermediary of sorts, as you go between characters, and try to choose the right options to bring the situation to what you think would be the "best" conclusion.
Even better, these quests often link together, with characters you've helped in one popping up in another, often with unpredictable effects. Branching with almost every decision you make, the vast majority of quests can be solved in multiple ways, which in turn will have a knock on effect on how the rest of the game plays out, giving it incredible replay value. While conversations can sometimes head south, combat is almost always a last resort, as you'll often have the ability to talk yourself out of a battle. Depending on your character class and abilities, you'll be able to choose to intimidate, persuade, or deceive your foe to get yourself out of a tricky situation. If things do break down beyond repair, battles themselves are turn based affairs, where you and your opponents take in turns to both move, and either attack or use an item.
How easy is Torment: Tides of Numenera to pick up and play?
In terms of accessibility, Torment: Tides of Numenera has a pretty steep learning curve, dropping you in at the deep end in a bizarre universe, before leaving you to find your own way. While there are tutorials to talk you through the basics, the game still initially feels rather complex, with unusual concepts coming at you fast, particularly when it comes to character creation.
If you stick with it though, the game quickly gets a lot easier, as you'll spend most of your time simply talking to characters, choosing dialogue options, and doing your best to see that every problem has a peaceful resolution. While every choice you make will have a knock on effect on something else (thankfully, you can save your game whenever you want), there's rarely a right or wrong answer, and sometimes failing a quest can lead to a more interesting result. Similarly, it's also nigh on impossible to die, as you're technically immortal - "dying" in game simply leads to you waking up in the cannibal's cave, where you have to choose whether or not you want to let them eat you. We told you it was weird.
Still, perhaps the biggest issue here is one of language. Torment: Tides of Numenera has minimal voice acting, with reams and reams of text to get through - and the text here is of an unusually literary variety. Long and unusual words abound, with characters often speaking in abstract poetic metaphors rather than telling you something directly. With words like antediluvian, alacrity, sonorous, stentorian, autochthonous, importunate, docent, columbarium, probity, logothete, scriveners, lissome, scion, aquiline, tenebrous, and libations all popping up, you'll sometimes feel like you need to sit with a dictionary next to you - although most of the game, thankfully, is pretty easy to understand.
In terms of mature content, Torment: Tides of Numenera contains moderate violence and sex, and mild bad language.
Bad language in Torment is infrequent, as most characters swear at each other in in-universe terms, using the game's own special insults. Words like sh*t, b*stard and b*tch do show up infrequently, however.
While there's no direct nudity or sex in game, some characters will make references to sexual acts - one of your party members, Tybir, often talks about his conquests (the fact he's a captain can "lift skirts and drop trousers", whilst he's also "not averse to strangers nibbling on my tenders"). In another story, he talks about how "all night long, we heard strange things. Sort of... wet sounds, you know? Laughter. Happy sighing. Then, dawn came, and there was a different kind of war going on in the mud below. The kind where everyone wins". One character, found in the Order of Truth, describes the mating rituals of the species he's studying. According to him, human mating involves 2 to 29 people, and begins when "the dominant participant exposes their abdomen, and all other members of the coital cluster prepare themselves for supreme pleasure". While he believes he's being led on, he knows the next step involves penetration "although my subjects were somewhat vague on what was penetrating what".
Violence and Gore
While Torment does feature blood, it's an uncommon sight, usually only showing up during battles, or the odd story sequence. In battles, you can attack opponents with swords, maces, axes or magical weaponry, with opponents giving off moderate clouds of blood when hit. Outside of battles, there's only a few other sections in the story that feature gore - like one that sees you pop a giant, man-sized cyst, which leaves a red pool of blood behind.
Beyond the visual gore, most of the other violence here is described in the text alone. Sample phrases include:
- "Bearing his father's sledgehammer, he dashed the priest's brains from his skull"
- "I've seen her take a corpse's face off with a swipe of those claws an' tuck it into her mouth like panbread"
- "Imbitu and his followers lean over you in well-orchestrated union. (...) Then, you hear a faint whirring as spinning blades grind your organs, and suck the pulp up through the hoses"
Format Reviewed: Playstation 4