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))