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.
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