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Torment: Tides of Numenera (PS4) review

On April 4, 2017 by Aaron Meehan

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InXile Entertainment’s Torment: Tides of Numenera is an isometric sci-fi RPG, which puts a strong emphasis on player choice and storytelling.

In terms of player choice, this can be best seen the game’s traditional RPG setup with the beginning of the game asking you to define your character via questions and selecting a character descriptor. The character descriptor you select isn’t just fluff text as it alters your character stats and skills, for example, if you choose the ‘intelligent’ descriptor you will gain +2 Intellect pool, but -1 training level in concentration skill. In many ways, your character creation and descriptor defines your play style, as the likes of the ‘intelligent’ descriptor will most likely see you favouring logic and discussion to avoid conflict. Now, while the skills you choose and see can be overbearing the game likes to try to simplify things with the stat pools. The stat pools, which are broken down into might, speed and intellect, allow you to affect a task or conversation by using X amount of a stat pool. Successfully completing a task or conversation allows the player to gain new information and/or avoid potential conflict. However, using your stat pools isn’t without consequence as the pools can only be replenished via items or resting, and if you rest, you risk missing a key event.

When it comes to storytelling, the game is primarily text-based with important scenes being voiced over. The storytelling in Torment: Tides of Numenera helps players gain insight into what can only be described as a strange sci-fi world with every encounter proving to be almost as strange as the last, but the strange nature of some encounters makes the storytelling more memorable, for example, helping a robot give birth. Players can also affect the stories side quests, for example, if you wait too long to complete a quest for a woman standing on top of a house overlooking a cliff, the house will collapse and you will be unable to complete the quest she gave you. The text-heavy approach to the storytelling helps fresh out quests and conversations, but this text-heavy approach can get tiresome and at times overwhelming as the game will ask you to make decisions after bombarding you with information.

Now I talked storytelling, but I never talked about the game’s story. Torment: Tides of Numenera’s story has you take on the role of the Last Castoff, a former vessel of a man known as The Changing God. The Changing God’s act of cheating death by constantly changing bodies has attracted “The Sorrow”, a group/entity that wishes to destroy him and his creations, including you. The story focuses on asking the question, does one life matter? After all The Changing God creates life so he can live and simply throws away, the life he created when he desires a new body. The question is also posed to you as well when it comes to interactions with your companions, whose lives you have changed. For example, Rhin is an escaped child slave who you can decide to return her to her slaver or take her on your journey.

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Before I discuss issues and graphics, let’s look at the combat. Combat in Torment: Tides of Numenera is essentially turn-based combat, with each turn involving a movement and attack phase for you, your allies and opponents. The previously mentioned stat pool also have an effect in combat as expending excess might allows you to do more damage, but you do have to remember when it runs out, you have to recharge it yourself.

Moving onto issues, the PlayStation 4 version of the game suffers from noticeable from frame rate drops and stuttering, alongside the occasional unresponsive command.

In terms of graphics, the game has a rich colour pallet with each area having their own standout colours and design. When it comes to audio, the text that is voiced is well delivered and helps elevate the scene.

Conclusion

Torment: Tides of Numenera is a solid RPG that offers an interesting story alongside a strong emphasis on player choice. However, the game’s heavy use of text can be overwhelming.

SCORE: 8/10

Pros Cons
+ A strong story that asks if one life does matter  – Frame rate issues 
+ An interesting if not strange sci-fi world  – The game smothers you in information 
+ Your actions can alter the world around you  – Some aspects of the game aren’t fully explained 
Developer Publisher Genre Rating Platform Release date
InXile Entertainment  Techland  RPG  16+  PS4, PC, XBOne  February 28, 2017 

*A review code was provided by the game’s publisher.*

For more information on Torment: Tides of Numenera, visit https://torment.inxile-entertainment.com/.


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