Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition Reviews

  • The Horror NetworkThe Horror Network200,782
    23 Jun 2017 23 Jun 2017
    6 0 0
    Originally released in 1999 by Interplay Entertainment and Black Isle Studios, Planescape: Torment is a legendary cult classic among RPG enthusiasts. Picked up later by Beamdog, the same publisher/developer responsible for the outstanding Enhanced Editions of other classic RPGs such as Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment has received the same Enhanced Edition treatment, complete with a remastered soundtrack, native 4K support, and a few more modern features to make gameplay a bit more user friendly.

    To avoid spoiling any part of this bewitching tale, only a very brief synopsis of the plot basics will be included in this review. You take on the role of The Nameless One, a possibly immortal man whom has awoke with a severe case of amnesia in a grim, zombie-infested mortuary. He is soon approached by a sarcastic, yet witty, floating skull named Morte, who helps to guide The Nameless One through his confused state, but can this seemingly harmless companion be trusted? Unsure of his past, his name, or even his purpose, The Nameless One and the skull then set off on their ultimate quest of attempting to restore The Nameless One's memory, and figure out just what the foreboding, instruction-like tattooed scrawls on his back mean.

    The game takes place within the Planescape multiverse of the Dungeons and Dragons universe, a setting that entails various planes of existence; though do not let that deter you if you know little to nothing of the classic board game. Planescape: Torment does an absolutely stunning job in conveying both basic and detailed information about the vast and seemingly endless world that it takes place in; I went in with virtually no knowledge of this realm, and I feel as though I could now write a book on it. However, if getting to know the lore so in-depth is not your thing, a great feature of this game is being able to sink your teeth into it as shallow or as deep as you prefer.

    It's true that you can lose yourself for hours at a time when becoming immersed in just the setting of Planescape: Torment alone, but each of the characters are equally as memorable, and most of them have intricate backgrounds. During your long and difficult journey, you will meet many, many people; some of which will become companions if given the chance, others are there simply for conversation sake, and some you will run optional errands for. This again boils down to how deep you wish to dive into this adventure, to which it is whole-heartedly recommended to let go of reality completely and sink all the way to the bottom of the countless fathoms of this story.

    If you choose to totally immerse yourself, you can expect to get anywhere from 40-50 hours out of this title, though it also depends on how quickly you read. It's best to not go in to the game expecting an RPG full of battles, but rather to expect a ratio of about 90% reading, 10% fighting. Most of the combat is reserved for the much later portion of the story, and even then it's still not a primary focus. There are boss battles, but the combat and loot system are primitive at best, a bit boring at worst, though this feature should not be your deciding factor on whether or not you decide to play Planescape: Torment; simply be aware that this is a heavily story based title. Despite a lacking combat system, you are able to choose between three classes for The Nameless One; mage, fighter, and thief. As for any RPG, leveling up and attribute points are also included.

    Aside from all of that, in typical Dungeons and Dragons manner there is a karma system. It's not overly complex by any means, being comprised of the Lawful, Chaotic, Neutral, Good, and Evil rankings. At any given time, depending on your actions and interactions, you can be Lawful Neutral, Lawful Good, Lawful Evil, Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Good, or Chaotic Evil. If you're new to this kind of karma system, it's best to let either the game or a search engine explain it to you, but it's quite basic. Your overall karma level will determine how people around you react to you, including your companions, so it does make a difference. As well, the companions that you keep with you throughout the game will make a difference in some dialogue and interactions, especially during the end game content.

    There are hundreds, if not a thousand or more, unique dialogue interactions. The possible and neigh infinite conglomeration of their branches means that replay value here is extremely high. Not only do you talk to dozens of people throughout the campaign, it's also good to speak with your companions from time to time to get their input on things; they may even reveal more of their backstory to you over time, if you treat them well enough. There are also a couple of different endings to attain, and even replaying the ending alone has a ton of story-based benefits. While on the subject, the last dying breaths of the game are just as renowned as the rest of the title, and it fills the player with a deep sense of completion and satisfaction no matter the final outcome.

    So, should you play Plansecape: Torment? Beyond any possible shadow of a doubt, absolutely yes. That is, so long as you want to experience one of the best and most detailed fictional stories ever written. It's a tale that your mind will keep summoning back to you while you're working, stuck in traffic, or completing other mundane tasks. The characters are unforgettable, and even if you happen to take a couple weeks off to play something else in the meantime you will not have forgotten a single thing about this title by the time that you return; unlike many other RPGs where you have no clue where you left off at, it's just that remarkable. There is not enough praise in the world for Planescape: Torment, and it's certainly not an experience that you should rob yourself of.

    Rating: 5.0/5.0 - An astonishing achievement, this game must be played.
    The Horror Network
    Steam Group: http://steamcommunity.com/groups/thehorrornetwork
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    5.0
  • realhumanbean4urealhumanbean4u37,969
    02 May 2019
    2 0 0
    Planescape: Torment is the second game from master developers Black Isle Studios, released in 1999 just one year after their fantastic Fallout 2. PS:T, like Fallout 2, is also directed by Chris Avellone, who also serves as writer. This is easily the highlight of his career. It is no hyperbole to suggest that here, he has written the greatest story in all of video game history, and perhaps even the greatest story of the 20th century. It all stems from the concept, which is among the greatest in design I've ever seen. You are one without a name, but you have an extensive past. This Nameless One has lived countless lives across thousands of years, and has utterly shaped the entire world around him, for better or worse. Every time he dies, he forgets everything. When you start the game, it's particularly tough because you have lost your trusty journal. So now you as the player are experiencing this strange world totally blind and are able to forge your own path despite having lived for so long. It doesn't matter if you want to be the goody two shoes, the evil maniac, or the apathetic punk, you have lived all of that and more.

    The Nameless One is joined by some equally compelling protagonists. Most notable is Morte, your first. He's a floating skull masterfully portrayed by the great Rob Paulsen who serves as the true heart of the game. Morte is not only insanely useful as a deceptive tank, he's important to your journey. As hilarious as his sarcastic burns are, you will discover there is much more to him than the supposedly nonchalant devil may care punk he is. His story and relationship to you is something truly profound and unique. This goes for my personal favorite, the Githzerai warrior Dak'kon. Not only do the Githzerai already have such an interesting backstory, but Dak'kon exists to push their ideals to the absolute limit. You can read his entire Zerthimon bible and have legitimate in-depth discussion about the ideals contained within, and it's all so profound. Like Morte, he too has a fascinating connection with you that is totally heart wrenching. This isn't it, though, there's so many great Companions, perhaps a bit too many. Annah (THE Sheena Easton) is yet another unconventional party member, being a Tiefling thief that's essentially the tsundere, although she is much more compelling due to her internal struggle over her feelings being legitimately justifiable, and she has some tragic parallels with a certain other love figure in the game. Fall-from-Grace (an unrecognizable Jennifer Hale) is another oddity, being a Puritan succubus, and she's the token healer. Her wisdom makes everything she says worthwhile. Nordom (the great Dan Castellaneta) is hilarious with his fish out of water attitude and obliviousness to the world around him. The only weak links, in my opinion, are Ignus and Vhailor (Keith f****ing David). They're very one dimensional, although justifiably so, and are kinda useless (Ignus' skills can all be learned by Nameless One and Vhailor is a tank that arrives way too late in the game and is rather outclassed). Although depending on your alignment, you will get some great moments with them later on, they are best left on the sidelines.

    The game may get criticism for the second half being very linear, but it thematically makes perfect sense. You spend the whole first half roaming Sigil, confused about everything. You're lost and trying to find yourself and others, and eventually, you do and are given a main quest. Then, you just have to focus on that with your newfound determination. That's linearity done right, it's a very realistic portrayal of a hero's journey. Even after the linearity kicks in, you're still able to go back to Sigil, so it's possible to break it up by still doing quests you may have missed.

    PS:T does not focus on combat like one would expect. Any situation you can talk out of is much preferable because then you get to experience the game's endlessly amazing dialogue. The combat system is very surface level and simplified compared to Fallout and Baldur's Gate, but again, that is not the focus. No game had made me feel such strong emotions as this one, from happy to sad. The writing can be so hilarious and tragic yet it never feels out of place. The Planescape D&D setting is one that is so rich with potential and interest, and Avellone and crew take full advantage of it. The lore is dense, but if you put the time into understanding it all, it is very rewarding, because then you can respond to people and situations in this world more efficiently. There are little changes to the engine that are much appreciated, such as better animations (especially for spells) and a more robust map that lets you make custom notes. However, it still has minor yet nevertheless irritating issues with pathfinding and characters blocking each other. Still, it's near perfect game design.

    The climax of the game is so drastically different from any other I played and can play out in so many different ways based on how you interact with the world. As for the ending itself, I'm still trying to process it all. It is not the ending you may want, but it certainly is the one you need. The story never once loses itself or muddles its themes. It's a wholly consistent experience which is more than be said for most games. I could go on and on about every individual moment and how perfect each one is, but 1. This review is long enough and 2. I don't want to spoil too much of one's experience. Intimidated by old games? Give PS:T a try. It's less cluttered and esoteric in design than Baldur's Gate and the real time combat can be more intuitive than Fallout's turn based system. Since it's a dialogue driven game, you just gotta bring your brain, and perhaps some reading glasses. Even if CRPG's aren't your thing, you will surely be dragged in by the amazing and strikingly unique world, populated by equally so characters and stories.

    The remaster is fantastic in many areas. It runs at your desktop resolution, and does so without flaw as far as I can see. There's some ugly changes, but everything can be toggled, and if you so wish, it comes with the original untouched version! I recommend playing without the zoom and outline feature, as it just highlights PS:T's admittedly graphical shortcomings, even for its time. Still, the music never sounded better, and the quality of life changes are extremely minor but still appreciative. Nothing breaks the original experience, and what a near perfect experience that is. Deservedly so among the top pantheon of entertainment, ever.
    4.5