Weekly /r/Games Discussion - What have you been playing, and what do you think of it?

“What can change the nature of a man?”

16 years, a GOG purchase and 3 false starts later I finally have, after so much time has slipped away, played Planescape Torment.

For many years I’ve see and heard it listed as the pinnacle of not just classic crpg storytelling but of all game storytelling and since seeing the Torment: Tides of Numenera kickstarter I’ve been meaning to give it a run though to get a feel for what the Numenera devs are aiming for. I have finally done so and I can without doubt say that it lives up to the near impossible reputation it holds and is my favorite game of all time.

You are The Nameless One, an immortal man stripped of his memory, waking dazed and confused upon a mortuary slab. Immediately a floating skull makes your acquaintance and the rest is history. From the get go I could tell I was dealing with something different. The undead workers are not hostile, the Dustmen (death worshiping undertakers) are gruff but can easily be talked into leaving you alone and even unlocking the gate and finally a ghost of a woman appeared to accuse me of wrongs I could not remember committing. I was lost, no less dazed and confused as I stepped out into the streets of Sigil, a strange city of thick accents and tortured architecture that seethed with life. I had but the slimmest of direction, a single name and I realized asking questions was the only way forward towards my unknown identity. And so I did.

Questions and conversations are the heart of this game, particularly who The Nameless One is, was and what he did that made him immortal. Throughout I was engrossed in searching for answers, in the strange and unnerving world and in TNO’s deeply personal journey of self-discovery. Always there are hints to who and what you were. A half remembered face, your eye in a jar on a bar shelf or a hint of some past transgression.

The conversations themselves are excellent. Deep, well written and often allowing one to adopt several distinct tones they allow you to truly sink into the role of The Nameless One. Further words actually matter; you can lie, make unbreakable vows, bring a man into existence with your words and end the existence of another the in the same manner. Words matter so much that in the end the final confrontation is perhaps best solved with them. Best of all the writing is great. Never did I find myself bored amongst those 800,000 words be it listening to a lecture on True Death to Morte hurling insults are an intellectual prostitute.

The companions are fascinating, some of the best ever written. Many are from your past revealing more and more about you and themselves as you grow to know them and each tie into running themes throughout the game. From Morte, the floating skull with a caustic manner and more lies than you can count, to Fall from Grace a reformed succubus and the most pleasant character to be around, to Ignus the insane pyromancer who is wreathed in agonizing flames, they are all fascinating.

Perhaps what struck me most though was how personal the game was and also how human. For example It is too a story of regret This is no save the city, save the world, save the universe plot it’s about regret and self-discovery. Throughout you are asked “what can change the nature of a man,” a question the game never really answers but by the end, which is pure catharsis by the way, you might just have an answer, not the games answer but yours and yours alone.

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