Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter a Day from Closing

By Alexander Leach

There’s only one day left before the Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter finishes.

It staggers me just how many of these video game Kickstarters greatly surpass the million mark – granted, this one was aiming for slightly lower than a mill, but double your goal is still impressive. The willingness for gamers, myself included, to give money to game developers in the hopes of producing better content is heartening, and somewhat concerning.

There’s certainly a lot of reasons for excitement. Monte Cook is involved, Tony Evans of NWN fame and Colin McColm, and Chris Avellone is confirmed as of the 3.5 million mark. People who worked on Planescape: Torment, and Neverwinter Nights: Mask of the Betrayer (an amazing story and game, far better than the core game) are working on this.

Planescape: Torment is probably one of the games that anyone should point to when they say that story matters in a video game. I say this because it’s a largely text-based, low-graphics game, based around telling a story and developing characters, where the actual gameplay is secondary. It’s somewhat subversive, as gameplay and graphics are secondary to writing, something that never happens in most non-text release games.

Sadly, I never played a Planescape pen-and-paper game, as I was not playing Dungeons and Dragons until Third Edition debuted. This is also the first I’ve heard of Numenera, but it shows promise, if only because it has a different and far less irritating design philosophy and play focus than D&D (anything that rewards building characters that aren’t meaningless statblocks shoved into generic archetypes is better than D&D, but character optimization is something I’ve never really enjoyed in and for itself).

The pen-and-paper RPG looks interesting as well. I missed its Kickstarter, and I’m not too thrilled at paying $80 for a 400-page corebook (I can get a new WoD book for about 40-50 dollars at a store), so preordering isn’t going to happen. I’ll wait and see how reviews work on that. I’ve already broken my rules regarding buying games at release times too often, and for bad reasons, so I’m going to temper my resolve on this one.

Back to the subject of the video game: what they’ve shown so far is promising. The art looks good, the concepts and themes they’re shooting for look interesting, and they seem to be focused primarily on making your choices matter. The videos have been alright, mostly just reiniterating what they’ve said on the main page itself. The plot itself – in it, you play the cast-off shell of a body-hopping mind, and have to seek your creator in the hopes of stopping a rogue entity trying to annihilate you – is pretty cool, and I look forward to trying it out.

That said, what bothers me about the game is that they’re heavily banking on the ‘spiritual sequel to Planescape: Torment’ aspect. Yeah, I know it was a great game; it was an oddity among western RPGs, but the sheer amount of reference to it is a bit offputting. The Last Castoff’s voice is a direct homage to the Nameless One of P:T, and even the plot outline is similar enough that it seems to be directly appealing to Torment fans.

Still, it’s not enough to dissuade me from putting down enough money for a copy at release. It’ll be two years before we see it, though, and most of us will probably forget about it until it suddenly gets announced for release. We’re still waiting on Double Fine’s headline-making game (now titled Broken Age), so video game Kickstarters haven’t really proven themselves to the general public yet. We’re still in that place where we’re willing to give staggering amounts of money directly to developers, surpassing everyone’s superficially-cautious attitudes, but still haven’t quite seen the return.

Well, if we’re willing to do it for indie games, and for alpha-release games, and are satisfied with the results, we should be fine for this.

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