Saturday!

Bounty Paper Towels Commercial 1984

Planescape: Torment is, arguably, the best computer RPG of all time. (I put it up there with Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines.)

The basic gist is that you wake up on a slab in a mortuary and, yep, you don’t remember *ANYTHING*. Luckily for you, there’s a friendly floating skull right there asking you probing questions and, after he determines that you’ve got amnesia, brings you up to speed. You’ve got some tattoos on your back, you see, and he reads them to you. There’s a guy in town you should meet… oh, but first, you need to have a short conversation with a ghost who explains to you that she’s the deceased love of your life.

So… what to do? Well, go to town, I guess… find the guy. And, along the way, you’re in Planescape, meeting awesome characters (with interesting backstories very much related to that of the protagonist), and you’re excavating your history as you’re playing (oh, and there’s sidequest after sidequest after sidequest).

This culminates, of course, in you finally getting the piece of information that ties everything together, and reframes everything you’d learned up until that point.

And the best part? You could avoid a good portion of the combats just by thinking about problems and making the right choices in dialog with people. It was a story that rewarded thinking about the character and his interactions with the world around him, not just a virtual random-number-generator D&D combat sim.

It was a rich and rewarding game that allowed you to stretch how you played… you could play as Chaotic Evil, you could play as Lawful Good, and each playthrough made it feel like that’s how the game was designed, from the start, to be played and that allowed for multiple playthroughs (and then when you’d find that you missed, like 14 of the secrets, and thus cheated yourself out of one of the best endings, you pretty much had to).

And I bring that up because, on Fat Tuesday last week, the sequel, Torment Tides of Numenera, was finally released. And, on Fat Tuesday, I picked up a copy.

And I’ll talk about the sequel next week.

So… what are you playing?

(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))


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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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11 thoughts on “Saturday!

  1. For all the CRPGs I play, I’ve never finished Planescape. I’m deep in the new Torment, though, and I’m thinking I’ll take another go at the old one sooner rather than later.

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  2. I started Torment long ago, but never finished it. I don’t know why, but I do remember enjoying it. The new game is sitting on my steam wishlist, and I’m looking forward to your review.

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  3. Planescape: Torment also had perhaps the worst box art of all time. I remember seeing it in the store and being turned off by it. It looked to me at the time like some hippy guy with mud caked on his face.

    It was somewhere around a decade before I ended up playing it. I did really enjoy it and ended up backing Tides of Numenura on Kickstarter.

    I’m only a half-dozen hours in so far and am enjoying it. It definitely has a similar feel to P:T at times.

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  4. I am also playing the new Torment. The setting is excellent – so much weirdness everywhere. My only real complaint is that because the game isn’t combat-oriented things it hard to get a handle on whether you’re keeping up with the demands of combat when you are forced into it.

    That and the constant acknowledgement noises your characters make whenever you click on something. Yes, I know you’re going there, I can see you doing it.

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    • My only real complaint is that because the game isn’t combat-oriented things it hard to get a handle on whether you’re keeping up with the demands of combat when you are forced into it.

      Serious RPGs seem to have weird problems with that.

      VtM: Bloodlines presented me the same problem on my unarmed melee character, who was used to punching through everything…and then one of the endgame fights(1) handed me a firearm of some sort and said ‘This is the only weapon that will work here.’.

      That….was an annoying fight.

      Although that was more…I knew there were certain problems that could only be resolved with combat, and certain ones that had to be resolved other ways, but throwing in a problem that could only be resolved with a certain *form* of combat was a bit unexpected.

      1) I really liked how that game didn’t railroad you to have an endgame battle. You could side with several sides in the game, and if I recall correctly there were *three* boss battles at the end of the game where you were trying to stop three different factions from getting something powerful…except that you could have been helpful to one side, and be working to get them the thing, so obviously you did not fight them. So you only had two boss battles, IIRC?

      Fallout 4 did the same thing, now that I think about it, except they *reversed* some of the battles, so you always did them, just from different sides.

      And, of course, in VtM: Bloodlines, *no* group won, because there was one group that no one realized existed and the entire damn thing was a boody trap.

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  5. The Dungeons and Dragons game that said “heck with it, let’s do something different”
    (It won’t surprise you to know that I know someone who worked on that game.)

    SO! Last week someone Mentioned the Darkest Dungeon game, and how much they liked the narrator. Turns out that his voicework on Darkest Dungeon got him one of the leads in Penny Dreadful, which I am now fitfully watching.

    (NOTE: THE ITALICIZED PORTION OF THIS COMMENT WAS BOWDLERIZED BY JAYBIRD)

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  6. Oh, and I agree that VtM: Bloodlines is one of the top(1) computer RPG ever…if by RPG you mean actual role playing and solving problems in different ways based on the character.

    RPGs just keep slipping more and more into FPS-with-different-styles-of-combat. The character choices are 90% melee vs. close range vs. sniper vs. stealth or whatever. That’s the character you’re building, how they fight, not someone who can solve problems with intelligence or charisma.

    The RPGs made now are more FPSs with character flexibility, not a true RPG.

    There are still indie games keeping up the tradition, but none of those have the budget to bring combat or graphics up to the level they need for the game to be taken seriously.

    1) I can’t say the best because there have been other games that supposedly did sort of things, like Fallout and Fallout 2, and other I am sure I am unaware of, and I haven’t played them. VtM: Bloodlines is probably the sole remainder in the *modern 3D* era, though.

    EDIT: Probably should have mentioned that I have never played Planscape: Torment, but I have head really good things about it, and it is the *other* definitive 3D serious non-combat RPG.

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