There exists a subset of gamers out there who canít stand the talky moments in games. Sometimes, their distaste is warranted; too many modern role-playing games (Japanese, most often) are excessively talky, despite the fact that they have absolutely nothing of merit to say. Torment: Tides of Numenera
aims to reclaim the essence of role-playing by making the writing the star attraction. A heavy majority of The Last Castoffís interaction with the world around him/her is relegated to observation and conversation. This results in an experience that boasts a significantly slower pace than most other games, but those willing to go with the flow will be rewarded many times over.
Unlike the monosyllabic drones who aimlessly wander their places of residence (you know the ones), most of Tormentís non-player characters actually come across as real individuals. They have names, stories, agendas. As you interact with these people, your understanding of this strange new world deepens, and the level of your investment becomes that much stronger.
Choices abound; consequences follow both closely and at a distance. While your options in conversation are often richly varied, there will come times for action. In Torment, all of your actions are governed by three main statistics: Might, Speed, and Intellect. Everything you do, save walking, draws upon those stats, and depending on how you complete the tutorial and subsequently grow your character, you may have more points in one than the other two. When the time comes to act, whether in simply dealing with the world around you or in open conflict, you must draw upon the Stat Pool in some way, shape or form. Each action has a base chance of success, but by expending Effort (at greater cost to the Stat Pool), you improve your chances of success.
I strongly suggest all first-time players avoid the temptation to reload at each failure, as the very term "failure" is treated as it applies in actual role-playing. While it might indeed mean you miss a heavy swing of your weapon or application of your Cypher in combat, the systemís applications elsewhere are, shall we say, creative. For example, one early Speed check rewards the player with a new weapon upon success; failure results in a point of damage, but a permanent expansion of the Last Castoffís health pool. Torment is full of surprises like these.
Torment: Tides of Numenera is peerless as a work of interactive fiction. Its approach to choice and consequence is a huge stride forward for the genre, and while the argument could be made that many games in the past have done the same thing, itís been far too long since one of those came along for it to hold any weight. This gameís presence makes disingenuous posers out of countless other narrative-focused releases. It is the new gold standard for the role-playing genre, and I applaud everyone involved in its development.