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Torment: Tides of Numenera Preview

2016-08-24

The presentation for Torment: Tides of Numenera was given by Creative Lead Colin McComb, with Vice President of Game Development Chris Keenan at the controls. As Colin apparently invested some time in his presentation, let me share what he said at the start:  Torment: Tides of Numenera is a single player, story driven, science fiction fantasy RPG, set on earth a billion years in the future. Countless civilizations have risen and fallen on earth, not all of them human. Some of them could punch holes through time and space and some made earth the center of an intergalactic empire. All of them rose, lived for a while and then disappeared, whether through extinction, migration or slow decline. All that they have left behind are their tools. About 900 years ago, humanity has risen on earth again. They live in a medieval technology level and are surrounded by all the items from prior civilizations that are left behind. These items are called numenera. Because of the strangeness of the numenera, there was almost no limit for the ideas of the developers about what they can do in this world.
The developers wanted this to be a game about the players, about their choices, the things they do and the legacy they leave behind. They set out to create a world that reacts to what the player does. When a choice is made, the world shows you the result of that choice and your actions will matter in the game and no two play-throughs will be the same.

You are the Last Castoff in the game, a new mind in a body once occupied by the Changing God, a being who has cheated death for millennia. Being a new mind you don't know who you are, nor why you are here and you set out for answers about the Changing God and your own existence. The Changing God is a figure in Torment who has wide influence on the world and those within it. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of years before the game is set, the Changing God found a way to cheat death by transferring their consciousness between bodies.
As the title of the game already mentions, there also are Tides. The Tides are a background force, comparable to something like gravity or magnetism. They are always there, but only those who are particularly attuned to them know of their existence, and little is known about what exactly they are, but they do react to the actions in the world and thus also your actions. There are five Tides: Red, Blue, Indigo, Silver and Gold. Each of them relates to a type of action, such as the seeking of wisdom, or altruism towards others. In other games a morality system is used to do something similar. However in Torment, the Tides are more about how you live your life and the legacy that you will leave behind.

   

Images from the public Techland booth

Colin went on to provide some examples of the weird things in the game like in Planescape: Torment, dying is different from other games. When you die, you unlock the ghosts with your mind and you can get those ghosts to share the secrets that their living counterparts would not tell you in person. You can enter someone's memory and change their past history. Not their memories of that history, but the actual history itself. When you come back from those memories, reality will have shifted around you. You can sell a companion to a robotic slaver, who will harvest that companion for its youth. You can unlock a puzzle box that is literally made out of music. You can help a giant robot give birth and after that you can steal those babies and use them for explosives. You can get cybernetic implants in the middle of a town square without anesthetic. You can feed your friends to a predator with the size of a city. You can talk to a man who waged war on your creator and who was trapped in time for his crimes against humanity.

Then we got to see some footage. We were taken to the Valley of the Dead Heroes, a millions of years old burial ground, used by countless civilizations. It is filled for hundreds of kilometers with sarcophagi and tombs. Memorialists have come there to study the place and a murderous cult have come up here to follow those memorialists, to open their guts and to use those for their own needs. These guys demand from us that we find their prey for them. They control the area, so we need to deal with this situation. You get different options to choose from in a dialogue. You can accept it, but you can also try to intimidate them. The different members of your party, will have more or less chance for the intimidation to succeed, so you can select the one with the highest chance. Upon succeeding, they will report back to their boss about who you are and what you have done, which will have a big impact at a later stage of the game.  Each of the options, will have a different result on how events will play out, both in the short term and in the long term.

Your party members will have objectives of their own as well. You can decide to ignore that or go along with them. Your decision will influence your relationship with that party member. If you go along with it, you will improve the attitude towards you and will learn more about his or her background. All party members will have a background story and everyone will have attitudes towards you and others that can be modified throughout the game. The party members also have their own specific individual quests and we determine what their future is. There will be places in the game that have a specific meaning to one of your party members and you won't learn as much as you could about such an area unless you have that specific party member in your group. What would look insignificant in your first play-through could become a very interesting location in your next play-through with a different party and also very different reactions from your party members. The game allows for up to 3 additional party members out of a total of 6.

One of the areas featured an interdimensional slug beast with the size of a city and because of it having that size, people also made it a city. They live inside this beast and make its organs their home. They use its veins as pathways and as it is an interdimensional beast, they also travel to other dimensions. The slug will have to eat on occasion. Nobody knows when or where, but sometimes it will eat some of its inhabitants. It also has a train that has crashed about a year ago and if we would have gone in to talk about it with the AI that lives in the train, we would have learned that the train feels very guilty about causing the death of all its passengers.

We went to something called The Maw. It feasts on guilt and on our travels we will have already learned about some people who feel guilty, including a party member or two and the before mentioned train AI. So we could hand over a guilty individual to get what we want from it, but there are alternatives. We can also use a specific scalpel that is very effective in cutting the flesh of the creature we are in. This however has its own consequences and if we go on with it, we will learn just how big these consequences are. There were a few more examples given by Colin, but they are all more or less spoilers, so I think you get the gist of things. The game is full of weird places, strange objects and interesting people.

Every problem that you will face will have more than one solution to it. Sometimes the success of them depend on the party members you will have, sometimes on your own skills and sometimes you  just need to fight our way through as we have run out of options, but every choice will have its own set of consequences.

The combat in Torment is turn-based and there is a variety of tactical options available. You can sneak, or talk to your foes during combat to break their morale, convince them to stop the fight, interact with the environment and objects to aid you in combat or mind control them to fight on your side. Each of these combat encounters (called a Crisis) is hand-crafted to make sure that there are different options available to you. Still, it is possible to avoid fighting in almost all cases. Every Crisis will have non-combat options available and creative players can solve the game without ever killing anyone in a Crisis.

The game is to be launched in Q1 2017, simultaneously on PC, Linux, Max, Xbox One and PS4. For the main storyline it is estimated that it will take 30 hours, which probably only covers 30% of the content in the game. If you are a completionist it will be much more, but you are still unable to see the entire game content, nor will you see all the text, of which the game has a lot; about 1 million words.

As far as the announcement for a console release is concerned, Colin specifically stated that the game was not dumbed down for consoles. This was not the case, the PC version is the same as it would have been if there were no console release. They wanted to make sure that what they were doing on PC would not be compromised by the console version. This is also why they have created a separate UI for consoles that does not influence the PC UI. If you would play the game on a PC with a controller, you would get the console UI with radial menus. If you play with keyboard and mouse, you get the, very different, PC UI.

But then again they did raise 4.5 million dollars for the release of a PC/Mac/Linux version and not for a console version. Chris Keenan mentioned that they were well aware that their backers would be concerned by that. Being that they have been in production for 3.5 years by now, they have gone way past that 4.5 million and have drawn a bunch of their own money in, for the PC version alone already. Absolutely not a penny of the Kickstarter funds have gone into anything related to console development. Colin McComb added to this that there were no console plans in 2013 when the development started and there still weren't any in 2015 . They got so far through development without any console plans and specifically targeting the PC experience. There has been absolutely no compromise to the PC version in bringing the game to consoles. No content has been cut, nothing has been dumbed down, everything was PC oriented. Also, the console versions are being worked on by a separate team with a separate UI designer.

I also asked if the PC version would have been released at an earlier stage if it wasn't for the consoles and the answer was simply no. Any delay in the PC release is not caused by moving to consoles, but by localization. The game has only recently become content complete and the translation of the 1 million words to other languages takes quite a long time to complete. This is roughly the same time as the time needed to complete the console release, which allows for a simultaneous release.

I actually had to go to a next appointment so could not ask much more, but couldn't leave either without taking a picture with Colin (which you can find on the @RPGWatch Twitter account).

In addition you can also watch the below 10 minute video, where you can see things for yourself. It has spoilers in it, so be aware of that.

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Box Art

Information about

Torment: Tides of Numenera

Developer: InXile Entertainment

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Technofantasy
Genre: RPG
Combat: Turn-based
Play-time: 40-60 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced

Regions & platforms
Internet
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2017-02-28
· Publisher: InXile Entertainment

More information


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