The first game that I’ve called terrible, Torment: Tides of Numenera is a game that disappointed me within ten minutes of turning it on. The game is very, very boring and I bought it blind, without having read any reviews and not having heard of it at all.
I bought the game because the back of the box made it sound interesting. The box told of a deep science/ fantasy epic RPG full of meaningful decisions where dying would allow you to wander a labyrinth and discover secrets unobtainable to the living. In truth it is very little more than a slightly interactive book.
Starting the game has a few moments where you can’t see anything, you are told that you are falling and you have a choice of whether to speed up or slow down the fall. I sped up, hit the ground at terminal velocity and got a game over screen telling me that I was an insignificant spec on the timeline and that my life had been meaningless. I thought this was brilliant, letting me die before I’d even started which gave me a great show of the choice and consequence that was still to come.
I was then introduced to the Effort system which dictates whether you can do something or not. Things that require Effort are chance based and the more effort you spend, the higher your chance of success. There’s even another stat called Edge which gives you even more chance to succeed at a task. You can even use the stat pools and Effort of companions that are gained throughout the game to boost your chances.
Character creation had three classes each with skills and abilities of their own, it gave you a few choices but there wasn’t anything that really made the system stand out.
Combat was done as a Crisis situation which was just a turn-based encounter and often I had to force combat because it didn’t occur naturally. What’s worst about the combat is that you can play the whole game without seeing any but there is the possibility to design your character around combat, the loading screens tell of combat and a lot of the inventory seems focused on combat. Why was combat not completely removed from the game? It looks like it might have been good but that the developers couldn’t be bothered with it. There’s also something called Fettles which are status effects that never really seemed to do much. The combat was chance and Effort based too which held it back.
Losing combat also seemed to be beneficial as there were often more positive outcomes than negative ones when you died. The first time I died in combat I met a cannibal cult who told me that I couldn’t really die, they then asked me for a nibble of my flesh since it wouldn’t effect anything. I let them eat me and suffered no noticeable consequence.
The plot revolves around a creature called The Sorrow and a man called The Changing God but it’s all kept a mystery, hidden behind walls of text from an NPC that you probably haven’t met yet. The game can also end at any point based on your choices which is interesting but if it does and you want to reach the real ending then you’d better save often or you’ll be losing a lot of progress through an unexpected game over screen.
As for problems with the game itself, a game about reading long piles of text should allow you to scroll through the text as you read and sometimes re-read it to get a better understanding. This game however often had the issue that it wouldn’t let me scroll meaning I was sometimes having to make a choice without first being able to read about what was going on.
Overall I didn’t like the game mostly because it throws text at you. I like reading and there’s little more that I like more than a good book but I didn’t find any of it engrossing, the characters in the game weren’t memorable for me in any way and where one sentence would have done four paragraphs were used which quickly made the game very tedious to try and play. Talking of play, there was very little gameplay. I’m sure there are some people out there who would love this nothing ever happens, read this and choose gameplay but it’s the least game-like game I’ve ever played. If it was a book and a little clearer, I may have liked it but since this is a game it’s terrible because of how boring it is. Games get complained about for too many cut-scenes or too much action but this game would have been improved with a cut-scene here and there.
If I could say anything to the developers its that all I want is a little less conversation and a little more action, please. The game world has so much potential but is held back by this attitude that we must read everything to understand anything.
The art that I’m using as the featured image was found on the achievements section of the Xbox website. It’s dark and a bit gloomy. A man that seems to have two faces is in the centre with other smaller people. This was actually one of the things that drew me to the game.