Torment: Tides of Numenera (PlayStation 4) Review

By Lex Firth 28.02.2017

Review for Torment: Tides of Numenera on PlayStation 4

Crowdfunding has come a long way in the video game industry over the last few years - originally a novelty that oversaw the development of modern classics like Shovel Knight and Thomas Was Alone, the number of projects originating from Kickstarter and Indiegogo has only multiplied in the years since, with a number of successes relying on nostalgia to curry favour with potential backers - see the forthcoming Yooka-Laylee. One such retro reminder is inXile's Torment: Tides of Numenera, a spiritual sequel to 1999 cult RPG hit Planescape: Torment - but it remains to be seen whether the Tides can turn towards mainstream success.

It's key here to remember that Planescape: Torment is a cult hit for a reason. Its impenetrable brand of traditional, by-the-literal-book role-playing may have received widespread critical acclaim, but its overcomplexity and lack of visual pizzazz meant that its high review scores failed to translate to mainstream sales success. Tides of Numenera, for all intents and purposes, suffers ostensibly from the same issues.

Set in the world of Numenera, a lauded tabletop RPG that itself has origins on Kickstarter, Tides sees the player take control of a Castoff, a vessel for the consciousness of an immortal being known as the Changing God that is being chased by a dark entity named "the Sorrow". Teaming up with a varied range of companions that come and go, the adventure spans the "Ninth World" - an era far in the future, where humanity has regressed to a near-medieval state - in search of the Changing God himself.

If that explanation sounds confusing, it's because Tides is a confusing experience. Steeped in rich lore, the Ninth World has a ridiculous amount of history, politics and geography to get your head around, and while plenty of it is skippable, it's far from advisable, as the story can often be almost unintelligible without the wider knowledge. Herein lies Tides' problem - hunting around the map, clearing inane sidequests in search of various pieces of information starts to feel less like a game and more like a chore.

Screenshot for Torment: Tides of Numenera on PlayStation 4

Perhaps it's due to the inconsistent writing, which jumps between out-of-place informalities and overly scientific vocabulary, even within dialogue; perhaps it's due to the sluggish way the game runs on a console as powerful as the PS4, with framerate drops on a near-constant basis and unforgivably long loading screens; perhaps it's the way that the combat system feels half-baked and impregnable - either way, Torment: Tides of Numenera is slow to the point of irritation, and it's often genuinely difficult to play.

It's not helped by the visuals, which leave a lot to be desired. The settings and backgrounds themselves are lovely, with crisp, well-drawn areas to traipse around, but the characters are barely visible, creating a pretty huge disconnect between the player and the story playing out on screen. There's also a bizarre dearth of visual set pieces - that the Castoff's visions of their previous lives play out solely in text boxes, rather than being facilitated by any real action, is a particularly baffling decision.

All things said, Tides of Numenera exudes niche appeal, and these criticisms will do little to dissuade RPG fans from having a fantastic time exploring the Ninth World. This is unabashedly a game for its Kickstarter backers and those with similar tastes and, while it may be difficult for a casual audience to enjoy - or even get past the first couple of hours - there's a genuinely interesting story to dig into here, and those willing to put the time in could do worse than to spend forty or so hours in the world of the Numenera.

Screenshot for Torment: Tides of Numenera on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


Torment: Tides of Numenera is a particularly difficult game to review objectively, as its enjoyability depends largely on the player's tastes and lifestyle. Those willing to spend a large amount of time surrounding themselves with complex lore will find this to be an enjoyable throwback to a genre that's struggling to find a place in the video game era - however, the majority undeniably won't be able to look past the 90s visuals, wordy script, and chugging performance; this certainly isn't the game for them.






Turn Based RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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