Video Game: Torment: Tides of Numenera

"What does one life matter?"

Torment: Tides of Numenera is a Spiritual Successor to Planescape: Torment developed by inXile Entertainment. It is one of the many games crowd funded via Kickstarter, and is scheduled for release in 2015. Unlike Planescape: Torment, which uses the Multiverse setting of Planescape, Tides of Numenera takes place in the futuristic Science Fantasy universe of Numenera, itself originally a Kickstarter project developed by Planescape designer Monte Cook. At the time, it was the most funded game on Kickstarter with over $4.1 million raised, for a grand total of around $4.5 million, counting donations from other sources.

The game puts you in the shoes of the Last Castoff, the final link in a chain of lives abandoned by a being called the Changing God. The God was once a man who discovered a way to cheat death for centuries by transferring his consciousness into a succession of bodies, only to seemingly disappear after leaving yours. Now, as you are hunted by The Sorrownote , enemy of the Changing God, for reasons you can't even remember, you must find the Changing God again and with him the key to uncovering your past.

(Torment: Tides of Numenera is not to be confused with Obsidian Entertainment's own Planescape: Torment spiritual successor, Pillars of Eternity, which was also crowdfunded and innovated the gaming engine which inXile licensed.)

This video game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Arc Words: The story of the game revolves around the question, "What does one life matter?" It is up to the player to decide what the answer might be — if there is one at all.
  • After the End: The game takes place on Earth after the rise and fall of eight "great civilizations", in the historical era known as the Ninth World. The setting is filled to the brink with mysterious artifacts and ruins from most of human history, and knowledge of the past is all but forgotten.
  • Bald Women: The female Last Castoff is bald in the concept art.
  • Body Surf: The Changing God obtained pseudo-immortality by constantly moving his consciousness into new bodies as necessary over many aeons.
  • Central Theme: "What does one life matter?" Word of God states that the secondary themes are "abandonment" and "mystery".
  • Clarke's Third Law: All the "magical relics" — the eponymous numenera — in the Numenera setting are simply advanced technology from previous long dead civilizations. People are generally aware of this, but the numenera are so advanced that religious significance is attached to them regardless.
  • Character Alignment: Rather than the usual Karma Meter, the game uses a "Tides" system. A Tide represents your character's path in life, with all its motivations, desires and actions, and waxing (or waning) into a Tide will affect the gameplay and story. There are five Tides in all, and none of them are in strict opposition with another. They are as follows:
    • The Gold Tide represents charity, compassion, empathy, sacrifice, and other socially-oriented traits.
    • The Indigo Tide encompasses justice, equity, compromise, the greater good, and other communally-oriented traits.
    • The Silver Tide involves admiration, power, fame, and other ambition-related traits.
    • The Red Tide includes passion, emotion, action, pathos, zeal, and other emotional traits.
    • The Blue Tide maps to reason, insight, wisdom, and other intellectual traits.
  • Character Customization: The game offers ways to customize the Last Castoff and a choice of gender. That you cannot customize the Last Castoff's appearance beyond gender is actually a plot point, as the game intentionally thrusts you into a situation where you have to wear someone else's face and past while trying to work out what you are and how you want to be remembered.
  • Cult: The game features three cults that act as special factions which will attempt to use the player character as a pawn, and cast them aside when finished. They are:
    • The Children of the Endless Gate: Death worshipers, some call them. They think of themselves as spirits trapped in flesh, and the horror of their cage pushes them to atrocity. They call themselves liberators and agents of freedom, and they leave no evidence of their passing but a tracery in blood.
    • The Order of Flagellants and Austerities: Once a hermetic and monkish offshoot of the Order of Truth, the so-called Scourges became a mendicant order and set out into the world with the appointment of a new leader a century ago. They are a missionary sect, devoted to cleansing the world of its many sins; among which are a reliance on the numenera, and pollution of the flesh with extravagances and constructs. They feed on the rage of their kin, borrowing strength of will and thew, and run berserk if they are not stopped, laying bare the bones of those who oppose them.
    • The Dendra O'hur: A cannibal cult, they believe that the strength and knowledge of those they devour will pass on to them. Worshiping their Great Queen Sar'Lavun, the Lady of Maggots, they roam the land in search of new prey, cloaked in rags and tatters and leaving only gnawed bones in their wake.
  • Dialogue Tree: Being a roleplaying game, and a successor to Planescape: Torment, multiple choice dialogue options are used to interact with other characters in the game.
  • Evil Luddite: The Order of Flagellants and Austerities, who believe that use of Numenera is a sin.
  • Feel No Pain: The Last Castoff can transmit their suffering to others nearby. Alternatively, they can take on the burden of their pain.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The three base character classes are Glaives, Nanos and Jacks. Glaives are warriors, Nanos are techno-sorcerers and Jacks are jack-of-all-trades generalists.
  • Genius Loci: The Bloom, an enormous carnivorous organism with an entire city inside it, apparently has some sort of rudimentary sentience.
  • Identity Amnesia: Your character doesn't have any memories of their life before the Changing God left.
  • Isometric Projection: The game is rendered partially in 3D against a hand-painted background, and uses the birdseye view of old 2D games trying to imitate 3D environments.
  • Item Crafting
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: The Last Castoff enters a representation of their own mind called the Castoff's Labyrinth when they die.
  • Late Character Syndrome: Averted, as all eight potential companions appear in the first quarter of the game.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The Ruins of Ossiphagan.
  • Licensed Game: Uses the setting of Planescape designer Monte Cook's Kickstarter-funded tabletop game, Numenera.(The two settings are unrelated in the fiction.)
  • Meaningful Name: The Sorrow is awakened from the suffering The Changing God has caused.
  • Player Party: There are a total of eight companions who can join the Last Castoff on their travels.
  • Science Fantasy: Takes place in the deep future of Earth, relatively recently after the recreation of formerly extinct humanity. Humans live in small quasi-medieval states.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Some enemies can do this and leave the area when the battle turn badly for them for them.
  • Spiritual Successor: Though the two games share no continuity, Tides of Numenera builds upon the themes and ideas presented in Planescape: Torment.
  • Three-Stat System: The game, like the tabletop system it's based on, has Might, Speed, and Intellect as core stats.
  • Turn-Based Combat: Tides of Numenera uses a turn-based approach to combat, unlike its spiritual predecessor, which used Real Time with Pause. The combat system is not strictly about fighting; rather, combat is part of an overarching system called "Crises", which encompasses any dramatic, time-sensitive event. When a Crisis occurs, gameplay switches to turn-based mode and context-sensitive actions similar to attacks become available. Such an action might be a regular attack, an attempt to hack a security system, tinkering with something in the environment, or an attempt to reason with someone.
  • Underwater City: The Oasis of Mra Jolios is a giant dome of water in the middle of a desert.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Sorrow sees the torment caused by the Changing God and wishes to hunt him for a long-awaited judgment, but that also means for him to eradicate his castoffs who are more of victims than enemies.