IntroductionTorment: Tides of Numenera
TheGreatEvilKing, what is this?
In the 1990s, an RPG by the name of Planescape: Torment came out. It was generally well-regarded because it was thought to have deep writing and attempted to explore a central question: What can change the nature of a man? Set in the Planescape campaign setting of Dungeons and Dragons - known for either innovative takes on fantasy or disappearing up its own genre ass depending on who you ask - it centered more around philosophical exploration and themes rather than a straightforward power fantasy.
Naturally, the game being a cult classic spawned a "spiritual successor" in 2017, a game which seeks to answer the question "What does one life matter"?
So you've played a lot of Planescape: Torment and are going to be comparing the two?
No. I picked this game up the day after it came out because I'd heard a lot about Planescape Torment and have a weird love-hate relationship with these kinds of isometric RPGs. I have never played Planescape in my life (though I have read the LP on the archives) and thus we will be judging this game by the harshest metric possible: its own merits.
Full disclaimer: I have not actually beaten this game either. I got to part 2 and bounced off hard because of the abysmal combat and writing that is desperately trying to be strange for the sake of strange. I've had a request up since April for someone knowledgeable to LP this thing, and since no one has taken me up on this you're stuck with me. Sorry.
Edit: About 4 updates in I went and beat the game.
What's this about the writing?
As far as I can tell the "spiritual successor" business means that things need to be vaguely like the original, where both games feature a nameless protagonist who is unkillable searching for answers. OK. Unfortunately, when I first played this game, the writing came off as a stoned high school student who just read Plato ranting about "the cave, mannnnnn" while also crossing it with his time travel Gene Wolfe fanfiction. Oh, and Patrick Rothfuss is credited as a story director, so you know this is not going to be good.
That said, I'll do my best to keep an open mind and hopefully we can get some interesting discussions going.
What the Hell is a Numenera?
Numenera is a tabletop game setting made by Monte Cook after he left Wizards around the era when 4th edition D&D was coming out. It is a vaguely sci-fi setting set in "the Ninth World" where the ancient remnants of technology are everywhere but poorly understood so they seem like magic. That's...all I know about the setting really. I don't think it really went anywhere and as far as I remember it got swept away in the Dungeons and Dragons Edition Wars. Certainly I've never heard of anyone playing the tabletop game, especially as when you leave Monte Cook alone without editors, you get evil nipple rings.
Are you sure you're qualified to do this?
So I can't speak to the game and setting, but oh boy do we have some wacky kickstarter stuff to talk about. Also, the writing. We can analyze the writing. Get those pretentious literary hats out again, goons!
We can also make fun of the combat system, but it's not so much actively bad (a la Ash of Gods) rather than just excruciatingly boring.
If people want I can do dialogue summaries again too!
Characters: Spoilers Below!
: The male version of our protagonist. He was voted out of existence after the first update, but showed up for a tedious endgame puzzle.
: Our (female) protagonist, a clever jack. Currently recovering from falling out of a space station. Has a mysterious curse where NPCs vomit exposition all over her like she's the toilet at a cheap bar.
: This is the game's narrator, which I have chosen to personify. When you see him this is text in the game. Text not preceded by this guy is my commentary. You will see him a lot, I hope you like bad metaphors and execrable prose!
: Aligern is a man who confronted us after we fell. The Changing God killed his family with a magic picture frame that unleashed shadows everywhere. It turned out the picture frame actually turned them all into his magic snake tattoos that he used to kill people. Really! The Changing God pranked him, bro! Also he used to be in a relationship with Callistege before we used Tides powers to make them break up. Really!
: Callistege is a woman who confronted us after we fell. Dislikes Aligern, likes technobabble. Accompanied by versions of herself from a parallel universe. Used to date Aligern. She is seeking immortality, which the game frames as bad when it remembers the sins of the Changing God and then it's good when anyone else does it.
: Erritis is a glaive who used to ride the short bus before we took him along for his heavy weapon skills. It turned out he was a shepherd boy possessed by nanomachine demons who demand stunts. Really. Don't look at me like that, this isn't even the most offensive PC backstory. We kicked him out of the party for being obnoxious.
: Tybir is a jack who joined our party after offering us a sidequest to let his friend escape execution, then proceeded to be irrelevant until Act 3 when we did his sidequest. Turns out that he had a boyfriend he loved very much, but the boyfriend kept being temporarily inconvenienced by the Endless Battle and Tybir was too chickenshit to dump him, so he tried to kill a bunch of kids to dump him. Really. Then Steven Dengler the kickstarter backer character trolled him into discovering his boyfriend was dead and that he really sucked. It was dumb.
/: Rhin is a small child written by Patrick Rothfuss, who invents gods or something like that. Despite the game being about divinity vaguely we're just not going to talk about that at all. She is supposedly useless in combat but is actually really powerful because she gets infinite grenades and turrets. Her sidequest involves the player character being sexually harassed by a date rapist to open a portal to send Rhin home. I told you she was written by Patrick Rothfuss. She then comes back as an adult to help us out in the final dungeon and kiss us. Rothfuss.
: Oom is a nanomachine robot dog who teaches children how to use the Tides, an incoherently written powerset that lets you mind control people and build buildings. He has a traumatic backstory where the Sorrow blew up his home planet and then he was tortured by the Changing God so the Changing God could use the Tides.
: Matkina is an assassin and another castoff of the Changing God. She is simultaneously a ruthless edgelord murderer and a person who lectures the Last Castoff for killing indiscriminately, because saying this game was written by monkeys with typewriters would be an insult to monkeys with typewriters. Her personal trauma is part of the main quest, which has us go back in time to unrape her. Really. I'm not making that up! Someone at InXile looked that this plot twist and OK'd it.
/: The specter, a random ghost who lives in our head and delivers exposition. He has two big plot twists: one where he reveals he's the Changing God, and one where he reveals he's actually an AI clone of the Changing God. He dies because we all yell at him that he sucks.
: The "mysterious" antagonist we are supposedly fleeing. The game portrays her as a mysterious divine entity hunting the Changing God for his sins, but she's really just a robot built by some rich assholes to commit genocide. Really.
: The first castoff body of the Changing God, a woman named Maralel who got pissy that he wouldn't teach her how to body-hop and started an endless war where no one ever dies.
: The Changing God, a powerful not-wizard who became immortal by body-hopping. As a side effect, his old bodies became sentient people. He never appears in the game but is the driving force behind all the incoherent bullshit that happens to our protagonist.
Table of Contents
Help Me, I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!
Are We Tormented Yet?
A World of Wonder And Mystery But Just Things We've Seen Before
404 Interesting Abilities Not Found
Easy-Bake Riot In Four Simple Steps!
I Don't Know Kung Fu
Space Calamari - It's What's For Dinner
The Psychics that Wouldn't Shut Up
I Fought The Devil, and The Devil Won
Horny Devils Are Waiting For You Now!
One Weird Trick To Solve Any Moral Dilemma! Ethicists hate her!
Our Twelve Year Old Intern Spent All Night Creating This Character!
Daddy Issues, part 2
Daddy Issues, Part 3
I picked Silver Tongue, I swear!
I am the cyborg. I am the walrus.
One Weird Trick To Get Rid of Stalkers! Stalkers Hate Her!
The Tides Matter, We Swear!
Choose Your Own Terry Goodkind Adventure!
Emotional Blackmail By Way of Goon
The Tragic Tale of Tides Dog
Bonus Update #2: Part 1 Postmortem
The Revenge of Kickstarter
Welcome to Hell - It Has No Spiritual Significance
Three Million Dollars for THIS?
I Don't Want To See What They'd Do To David Bowie
The Fart of Destiny
What Does One Life Matter?
The Trolley to End All Trolleys
Bonus Update #3: Part 2 Postmortem
The Bloom and Endgame
The Magical Land of Trolleys
The Worst Prophet
Fuck this game
The Game Doesn't Respect Me, I Don't Respect It
The Not-So-Great Space Robbery
Even The Killer Robots Can't Shut Up!
It's Just A Prank, Bro! The Changing God Pranked You, Bro!
Damn, Tybir sucks!
The End of Sidequests
The Butthole of the Bloom
Awkward Tentacle Action
The Endless Trolley Battle
Face Your Torment! Bring Booze.
This Game is A Joke
Our Long Numenera Nightmare Is Finally Over
Bonus Update #1: How Did We Get Here?
Bonus Update #4: Damned From The Start
insanityv2 offers insight into the writing process.
FluffyDeathbringer explains sidequests in this game.