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How I was late to the party with Planescape: Torment


I am 24 years old and I have been a gamer for as long as I could hold a controller, thanks to my dad who was interested in video games when he was younger. I've always played a bit of everything, though while I was younger I mostly hung around rpg's. Unfortunately, I never owned my own computer, or even had any real access to one, until I finally got my own laptop when I graduated high school in 2007. As such, I missed out on many of the "classics" as many would call them. Baldur's Gate, Deus Ex, System Shock, and Planescape: Torment were games that I was never able to experience.

I've heard many great things about Planescape: Torment over the years, particularly praising its story. Now, I play video games for different reasons. I play Devil May Cry games for over the top action, I play Elder Scrolls games for large immersive adventures, but a great story? That will cause me to play anything. I love stories, in any medium. I love to hear others' stories and come up with my own though I know I'll probably never get around to writing any down, so to hear that Planescape: Torment had one of the most memorable stories in gaming had me intrigued. When I saw the recent kickstarter for its spiritual successor Torment: Tides of Numenera I decided it was time to make the effort. Upon finally experiencing this classic, I was not disappointed.

As I said before, I didn't grow up with a computer so old school crpg's are pretty foreign to me, any time I've tried them since I've found the combat a bit off putting, so hearing that you could play through the entire game with minimal combat definitely spurred me on. I've also never been a pen and paper rpg kind of guy so games that force you to choose every point of stat allocation from the beginning of the game on are a handful for me without a guide. From a graphical standpoint the game isn't much today, but it's not the visuals that you want to experience here, it's the strange sort of interactive book that this game presents. I loaded it up with the suggested mods as listed by GOG so that it would run correctly on my current setup and began my adventure.

As a story lover I don't think that I will ever forget this game. I have never seen a game with not only such a fleshed out story, but a fleshed out universe. For as interesting as the game's plot is, the universe it takes place in is at least equally interesting. The Planescape universe from what I have learned through the game is made up of many different worlds that are all linked together. These worlds are connected by "doors", each of which are opened by very specific "keys". I put the emphasis on those two words because this is the point, near the beginning of the game, when I knew that I was 100% down for whatever the game had to offer. You see, the "doors" that connect these worlds can be nearly anything. An actual doorway, an arch in the city, an old tree trunk that has fallen over onto another. Equally intriguing is the concept of their keys, which can literally be anything. A tune you hum, a piece of string, or even the want to not enter the door. Potentially, you could be walking through the woods, humming to yourself, and pass under a fallen tree only to find yourself transported to another world with no way to return. The degree to which this is fleshed out is incredible.

The plot of the game follows a character known only as The Nameless One. TNO, as he is affectionately referred to by fans, awakes in a mortuary with no memory of anything, but that's not the strangest of his problems. The Nameless One cannot die. This is no Superman situation where he is impervious to everything but one special type of rock, nor is it a Highlander situation where he must have his head removed. Your character literally can not die in this game, not through plot nor gameplay. If you are in combat and your health reaches zero you pass out and awaken at the entrance to the current area. This isn't to say that he isn't impervious to pain, no matter how much it means that he can mutilate his body. Through the course of the game you can watch (or rather, read about) TNO removing parts of his body to replace them with more favorable ones, such as pulling his eye out and shoving a new one in.

The main story of the game follows TNO as he tries to discover his past as well as his identity, and the things you will see along the way are things that you will likely never see again in your life. A woman gave me her sentient teeth that I then shoved into the jaws of my floating skull companion, Morte. I met a woman who literally steals the desire from other people's bodies (isn't that always the way with women?) I helped a pregnant alley give birth. Simmer on that last one for a bit. All of these things, no matter how ridiculous they get, only accentuate the deep narrative that is being told here. You control this nameless man as he slowly regains his memories and struggles to discover why he continues to die, lose his memories, and wake up again. You meet so many great characters, each of whom is flawed in such a way that they are incredibly believable.

As I mentioned, this game can be played in such a way that combat becomes a very minor part of the game, to the point where you can go through it very rarely ever needing to pull out your weapon. This is thanks to the no less than three character stats that relate to your ability to talk to people. There is so much dialogue in this game it's almost ridiculous. It really does come off as an interactive book more than a traditional video game at times.

I really wish I could discuss all of the crazy things that happened in this game, but this is something that I feel people should really experience for their own. If you are a fan of rpg's or even just a good fantasy story then you owe it to yourself to give this old classic a shot. If just one person reads this at some point and decides "I think I'll give that old game a go" then this was well worth the effort to write it.
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About Fenriffone of us since 8:53 PM on 12.21.2012

Name's Josh. I'm 27, play pretty much any kind of game, and have since I was old enough to hold a controller.