It took me about four weekends of marathon play to be able to say I’ve beaten Planescape Torment and it was absolutely amazing. There’s no need to write any sort of review. Planescape Torment is an amazing game any RPG fan with an open mind needs to play. It’s a story you play through instead of just watching it and that should be reason enough.
Just one more turn
Anyone who ever played a good 4X game (let’ts not kid ourselves, we all know what the good ones are) is familiar with the just one more turn syndrome (is that the correct word here?). Planescape Torment has it to, but in a different way, one I rarely expect to see in a game.
Instead of “just one more turn”, I’ve been suffering from a “I just want to see what I’ll discover next” in Planescape Torment. The story is just that interesting and just that unpredictable. I’m probably not telling you everything here, though. There’s a couple of reasons why the story is so amazing.
It’s unpredictable. I can’t stress this enough. With most movies I watch, games I play or even books I read, I’m pretty good at predicting what will happen next, or even how it will all end. That doesn’t make the story necessarily bad, but does hint that it’s probably a bit too formulaic.
With Planescape Torment, I had no idea what will actually happen at any point. It may be I’m exaggerating here, but I honestly can’t remember a single even I expected to happen in remotely the same way it did.
It’s also extremely complex but I’m not sure what else to say about that part. There are multiple ways to approach things in the game, multiple ways to solve them and it’s not just some sort of simple duality of good-bad, or even a trinity of good-neutral-bad. Most of the game is actually gray, morally and in other aspects.
Note the choice of my words above. I said “I just what I’ll discover next”. I didn’t say “what will happen“, I said discover. Why? Because Planescape Torment is a game that does a story well. It’ let’s you play through that game, play through the story.
It’s easy to tell a decent, or at the very least a trilling story when you get to take control away from the player every time you want to show off some aspect of it. It’s a lot harder to do so when the player is in control and influences the outcome.
Planescape Torment does it almost flawlessly.
And to be fair, ego probably plays a part in it to. To be perfectly frank, many parts of the game make me feel smart and it’s a nice feeling. There, I’ve said it.
I’ve played through the Walking Dead and I was pretty harsh with the game? Now that I’ve put some time between myself and that game, I think I have a good way to describe my feelings about games like that one:
Games like the Walking Dead are games I wouldn’t mind watching a Let’s Play series of, even a silent let’s play, but it’s not the type of game I enjoy playing. The primary goal of the Walking Dead is to tell you a story, not to let you play it. Playing it is more of a chore you have to do in order to get the interesting stuff.
I feel that’s easier to do and when you actually do it that way, you end up giving a player a lot of time and reason to scrutinize your game, both for the deeper flaws in gameplay, as well as slightly lesser flaws in the story itself (it’s never perfect).
I’m sure Planescape Torment has a lot of flaws. It’s an older game. It suffers from a horrible interface and a lot of bad design choices.
The thing is, there’s so much good stuff and there was so much for me to do throughout, I didn’t notice the bad stuff and it’s hard for me to name the bad stuff now, while I’m still influenced by the amazingness of it all.
So I’m probably generous, but if I’m going to be generous with a game, Planescape Torment certainly deserves it.
Experiencing the finale
There’s a big part of the late game where you’re away from Sigil, the main city of the game and are sort of stuck in a pretty desperate situation. Once that is resolved, you return with a lot of money and experience and all that’s really left is to go to a certain location and execute a certain series of actions in order to reach the final area of the game.
Of course, some optional things also open up. There’s an area with especially powerful enemies that drop powerful items. Some of the shops in the game also restock their inventory, so those that are willing are able to beef up their protagonist as well as the rest of their party.
I, however, didn’t do that.
I got to the final area and acted the way a mage that’s all talk and has very little fighting in him is supposed to act – I ran around like crazy, crying and hoping I don’t get myself killed and eventually stumbled through the puzzles while avoiding most of the fighting. My days of kiting oozes in fights with Professor Putricide and Rotface in Icecrown Citadel actually helped here. At certain points, I had dozens of enemies chasing after me as I was running from portal to portal in order to unlock the next area.
I spent most of my healing items and I wasted most of my spells, but I managed to win the last unavoidable fight and then I talked my way through the rest of the game.
That’s right – I talked my way through the final boss fight and I believe this actually gave me the best ending, or at least one of the better ones.
I can’t stress enough how much I can’t stress this enough. Planescape Torment is an alien game in every sense of the way. It has an alien setting, an alien story and an alien protagonist. It also plays differently from any other game I can think off.
That’s probably a big part of why it was so unpredictable throughout – there was simply no frame of reference for me to rely on.
There are some things I wanted to write down, but I’m not really sure where to put it, so I’ll just put it under this heading. Well, technically, there’s one assorted thing I wanted to mention:
At a point in the game (or there may be more than one point), you are asked a riddle. Since my character had high enough stats, one of the dialogue options was along the lines of
You know the answer: <Whatever the answer is>
I wonder what would’ve happened if my stats weren’t high enough. Would I simply not get that dialogue option? Could I determine the answer myself, as a player, and pick if from one of the choices? Would there be an intentionally incorrect answer disguised as a correct one?
You know the answer: <Wrong answer here>
I really, really would like to know that.
And there’s so much more
That’s another thing. I know for a fact there are at least two party members I never even met. I’ve barely visited an entire optional area. Playing the game as a warrior or a thief is, I imagine, a completely different experience.
Heck, you can even play it hack-and-slash style and it could work.
I can’t help but feel I’ve only scratched the surface of Planescape Torment and honestly, I’ll probably come back to it at some point in the future. I wish I could do it now, but my time is limited and the games I want to play numerous.
For now, all I can say it – get this game, play this game. Planescape Torment was and is amazing.
So what was your first answer (when you are first asked the question)? What can change the nature of a man?