Torment: Tides of Numenera

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Torment: Tides of Numenera
Cover art
Developer(s) inXile Entertainment
Publisher(s) Techland Publishing [1]
Director(s) Kevin Saunders [2]
Chris Keenan [3]
Producer(s) Brian Fargo
Designer(s) Adam Heine
Colin McComb
George Ziets
Artist(s) Aaron Meyers
Writer(s) Colin McComb
Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie
Adam Heine
George Ziets
Mark Yohalem
Nathan Long [4]
Composer(s) Mark Morgan
Engine Unity [2]
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
ReleaseFebruary 28, 2017 [5]
Genre(s) Role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player

Torment: Tides of Numenera is a role-playing video game developed by inXile Entertainment and published by Techland Publishing for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. [6] It is a spiritual successor to 1999's Planescape: Torment .

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

inXile Entertainment

inXile Entertainment, Inc. is an American video game developer that specializes in role-playing video games. The company was formed in late 2002 by Brian Fargo, a founder of Interplay Productions. The company is headquartered in Newport Beach, California, and, since 2015, has a subsidiary studio in New Orleans.

Microsoft Windows is a group of several graphical operating system families, all of which are developed, marketed and sold by Microsoft. Each family caters to a certain sector of the computing industry. Active Microsoft Windows families include Windows NT and Windows IoT; these may encompass subfamilies, e.g. Windows Server or Windows Embedded Compact. Defunct Microsoft Windows families include Windows 9x, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone.


The game takes place in Numenera, a fantasy campaign setting written by Monte Cook. It uses the Unity game engine. Torment: Tides of Numenera, like its predecessor, is primarily story-driven while placing greater emphasis on interaction with the world and characters, with combat and item accumulation taking a secondary role.

<i>Numenera</i> science fantasy roleplaying game

Numenera is a science fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) set in the far distant future, written by Monte Cook. It has been translated into Italian, German, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

Fantasy Genre of literature, film, television and other artforms

Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in a fictional universe, often inspired by real world myth and folklore. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became literature and drama. From the twentieth century it has expanded further into various media, including film, television, graphic novels, manga and video games.

Campaign setting fictional world which serves as a setting for a role-playing game or wargame campaign

A campaign setting is usually a fictional world which serves as a setting for a role-playing game or wargame campaign. A campaign is a series of individual adventures, and a campaign setting is the world in which such adventures and campaigns take place. Usually a campaign setting is designed for a specific game or a specific genre of game. There are numerous campaign settings available both in print and online. In addition to published campaign settings available for purchase, many game masters create their own settings, often referred to as "homebrew" settings or worlds.

The game was successfully crowd-funded through Kickstarter in the first six hours of the project's launch in March 2013. At the campaign's conclusion, Torment: Tides of Numenera had set the record for highest-funded video game on Kickstarter with over US$4 million pledged. The release date was initially set for December 2014, but was pushed back to February 2017.

Kickstarter crowdfunding platform

Kickstarter is an American public-benefit corporation based in Brooklyn, New York, that maintains a global crowdfunding platform focused on creativity and merchandising. The company's stated mission is to "help bring creative projects to life". As of May 2019, Kickstarter has received more than $4 billion in pledges from 16.3 million backers to fund 445,000 projects, such as films, music, stage shows, comics, journalism, video games, technology, publishing, and food-related projects.


An early in-game screenshot from "the Bloom" area Torment Tides of Numenera technology test screenshot (Bloom) 640p.png
An early in-game screenshot from "the Bloom" area

Torment: Tides of Numenera uses the Unity engine to display the pre-rendered 2.5D isometric perspective environments. [2] [7] The tabletop ruleset of Monte Cook's Numenera has been adapted to serve as the game's rule mechanic, and its Ninth World setting is where the events of Torment: Tides of Numenera take place. [8] The player experiences the game from the point of view of the Last Castoff, a human host that was once inhabited by a powerful being, but was suddenly abandoned without memory of prior events. [9]

Unity (game engine) Cross-platform video game and simulation engine

Unity is a cross-platform game engine developed by Unity Technologies, first announced and released in June 2005 at Apple Inc.'s Worldwide Developers Conference as a Mac OS X-exclusive game engine. As of 2018, the engine had been extended to support more than 25 platforms. The engine can be used to create three-dimensional, two-dimensional, virtual reality, and augmented reality games, as well as simulations and other experiences. The engine has been adopted by industries outside video gaming, such as film, automotive, architecture, engineering and construction.

2.5D simulation of the appearance of being three-dimensional

The two-and-a-half-dimensional perspective is either 2D graphical projections and similar techniques used to cause images or scenes to simulate the appearance of being three-dimensional (3D) when in fact they are not, or gameplay in an otherwise three-dimensional video game that is restricted to a two-dimensional plane with a limited access to the third dimension. By contrast, games using 3D computer graphics without such restrictions are said to use true 3D.

Isometric projection method for the visual representation of three-dimensional objects in two dimensions

Isometric projection is a method for visually representing three-dimensional objects in two dimensions in technical and engineering drawings. It is an axonometric projection in which the three coordinate axes appear equally foreshortened and the angle between any two of them is 120 degrees.

As with its spiritual predecessor, Planescape: Torment, the gameplay of Torment: Tides of Numenera places a large emphasis on storytelling, which unfolds through a "rich, personal narrative", and complex character interaction through the familiar dialog tree system. [10] The player is able to select the gender of the protagonist, [11] who will otherwise start the game as a "blank slate", and may develop his or her skills and personality from their interactions with the world. The Numenera setting provides three base character classes: Glaive (warrior), Nano (wizard) and Jack (rogue). [12] These classes can be further customized with a number of descriptors (such as "Tough" or "Mystical") and foci, which allow the character to excel in a certain role or combat style. [2]

In role-playing games (RPG), a character class is a job or profession commonly used to differentiate the abilities of different game characters. A character class aggregates several abilities and aptitudes, and may also detail aspects of background and social standing, or impose behavior restrictions. Classes may be considered to represent archetypes, or specific careers. RPG systems that employ character classes often subdivide them into levels of accomplishment, to be attained by players during the course of the game. It is common for a character to remain in the same class for its lifetime; although some games allow characters to change class, or attain multiple classes. Some systems eschew the use of classes and levels entirely; others hybridise them with skill-based systems or emulate them with character templates.

Warrior is a common character class found in many role-playing games. This class is also popularly referred to as the Fighter, as in Dungeons & Dragons. The class is may sometimes be referred to as a Knight or Bruiser, although in some games Knight is a separate class with a more defensive or support based aspect. Warrior character's skills are centered around strength and physical combat with a wide variety of melee weapons, and the ability to survive while tanking for the group, usually at the cost of agility or range. To aid in this, they can potentially use of some of the most powerful armor and weaponry in the game. As such, a Warrior is a well-rounded physical combatant, but because of the class's reliance on heavy plate armor and expensive weaponry, the cost of managing the Warrior's equipment is typically very high. In some games, the Warrior may be able to learn basic magic, but its capabilities in this field are somewhat limited.

The Wizard is a type of magical character class in certain role-playing games, including role-playing video games. Wizards are considered to be spellcasters who wield powerful spells, but are often physically weak as a trade-off. Wizards are commonly confused with similar offensive spellcasting classes such as the Warlock and the Necromancer. However, a Wizard's power is based on the arcane and a Warlock or Necromancer's power is based on darkness or death. Wizards are primarily based on wizards from assorted fantasy literature. Other terms used to describe the classification include Mage, Magician, and Magic User.

Instead of a classic alignment system acting as a character's ethical and moral compass, Torment: Tides of Numenera uses "Tides" to represent the reactions a person inspires in their peers. Each Tide has a specific color and embodies a number of nuanced concepts that are associated with it. The composition of Tides a character has manipulated the most determines their Legacy, which roughly describes the way they have taken in life. Different Legacies may affect what bonuses and powers certain weapons and relics provide, as well as give a character special abilities and enhance certain skills. [9]

In the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy role-playing game, alignment is a categorization of the ethical and moral perspective of player characters, non-player characters, and creatures.



Tides of Numenera has a science fantasy setting. In a distant future, the rise and fall of countless civilizations have left Earth in a roughly medieval state, with most of humanity living in simple settlements, surrounded by relics of the mysterious past. The current age is called the "Ninth World" by its scholars, who believe that eight great ages existed and were destroyed or disappeared for unknown reasons before the present day, leaving ruins and various oddities and artifacts behind. These artifacts are known as the "numenera" and represent what is left of the science and technology of these past civilizations. Many of them are irreparably broken, but some are still able to function in ways that are beyond the level of understanding of most humans, who believe these objects to be magical in nature. [13]


Concept art of the female protagonist choice Torment Tides of Numenera concept art - female protagonist.png
Concept art of the female protagonist choice

Character complexity and dialogue depth were identified among the primary elements of the Planescape: Torment legacy to be preserved and refined by the developers of Torment: Tides of Numenera. [9]

The tormented nature of the game's protagonist, the Last Castoff, attracts other, similarly affected people. They will play a significant role in his or her story as friends and companions, or as powerful enemies. [9] The game contains six companions in total: Aligern, Callistege, Erritis, Matkina, Tybir and Rhin.


The protagonist of the story, known as the Last Castoff, is the final vessel for the consciousness of an ancient man, who managed to find a way to leave his physical body and be reborn in a new one, thus achieving a kind of immortality by means of the relics. The actions of this man, known as the Changing God to some, attracted the enmity of "The Sorrow" (renamed from "The Angel of Entropy" to reduce the potential to imply a religious role), who now seeks to destroy him and his creations. The Last Castoff, being one such "creation", is also targeted by the Sorrow, and must find their master before both are undone. To do so, the protagonist must explore the Ninth World, discovering other castoffs, making friends and enemies along the way. One means of such exploration are the "Meres" – artifacts that let their user gain control over the lives of other castoffs, and experience different worlds or dimensions through them. Through these travels the Last Castoff will leave their mark on the world – their Legacy – and will find an answer to the fundamental question of the story: What does one life matter? [13] [14]

While the overall story varies wildly depending on personal preferences and specific interactions, the central storyline follows the Last Castoff as they search for a way to defeat or escape the Sorrow, exploring Sagus Cliffs after falling from a great height into a domed structure, destroying an artifact known as a resonance chamber that its believed will save the Last Castoff from the Sorrow. Finding another castoff, Matkina, The Last uses a Mere, a repository of memory to locate the entrance to Sanctuary. Using the Mere also alters the past, allowing Matkina to be healed of her mental damage. The Last finds Sanctuary, which the Changing God created as a hiding place from the Sorrow, where the Last finds a number of castoffs who represent both sides of the Eternal War: a conflict between followers of the Changing God, and followers of the First Castoff, who believe the God is selfish and malevolent. The Sorrow breaches Sanctuary after the Last is told that the resonance chamber will "defeat" the Sorrow by destroying every castoff in existence. After escaping the Sorrow through a portal to the Bloom, an apparition appears claiming to be the actual Changing God and attempts to possess the Last by force of will.


In a 2007 interview, designers Chris Avellone and Colin McComb, who had worked on Planescape: Torment , stated that although a direct sequel was not considered because the game's story was over, they were open to the idea of a similar-themed Planescape game if they could gather most of the original development team and find an "understanding set of investors". This combination was deemed infeasible at the time. [15] Talks about creating a sequel with the help of a crowd funding platform resumed in 2012, but attempts to acquire a Planescape license from Wizards of the Coast failed. [16] Later that year, Colin McComb joined inXile, which was at the time working on its successfully crowd funded Wasteland 2 project. The studio gained the rights to the Torment title shortly thereafter. [17]

In January 2013, inXile's CEO Brian Fargo announced that the spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment was in pre-production and would be set in the Numenera RPG universe created by Monte Cook. Cook acted as one of the designers of the Planescape setting, and Fargo saw the Numenera setting as the natural place to continue the themes of the previous Torment title. Although the connections to its predecessor will not be relatively overt, due to licensing issues, it was noted that certain traditional RPG elements are relatively hard to copyright, and some elements of Planescape: Torment may make a reappearance. Development of the game began shortly after the acquisition of the Torment license, and various inXile staff will transition over to the Numenera team as production on Wasteland 2 winds down. [18] In late January 2013, inXile confirmed the game's title as Torment: Tides of Numenera, and announced that Planescape: Torment composer Mark Morgan would create the soundtrack. [19] The pre-production period was initially expected to continue until October 2013. During this phase, team composition for the project was to be finalised and development would focus on production planning, game design and dialog writing. [20] With the Wasteland 2 project facing delays in 2014, full production of Torment: Tides of Numenera was rescheduled to a later date. [3] [21]

A Kickstarter campaign to crowd fund Torment: Tides of Numenera was launched on March 6, 2013 with a US$900,000 goal. Project director Kevin Saunders explained this choice of a funding source by stating that the traditional publisher-based funding model is flawed because it forces the developer into attempting to appeal to an abstract target audience, picked by the publisher. A crowd funding platform, on the other hand, would allow the developers to present their vision directly to potential buyers and determine its viability early on, making it a better choice for a mid-sized or smaller developer studio, like inXile. [17] The campaign had attracted several high-profile backers, such as the creator of Minecraft , Markus Persson, and chief of Razer USA, Min-Liang Tan. [22]

The campaign reached its initial funding goal in six hours, [23] and went on to surpass a million dollars mark in seven hours, breaking the then-Kickstarter-record for the fastest project to do so. [24] At the conclusion of the Kickstarter campaign, a total of $4,188,927 had been pledged. [25] Two post-Kickstarter stretch goals locations were also reached and added into the game. [26] After its official campaign ended, the game continued to raise funding on its website, with more than $870,000 being raised. [27]


The planned release date announced during the fund raising campaign was set to December 2014, but was later postponed "a few months" due to the need to implement the numerous achieved stretch goals. [28] During the course of the game's development, its release was delayed to the fourth quarter of 2015, [21] then 2016, [3] and eventually to the first quarter of 2017. [5] The game would ship DRM-free to the Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux platforms and would be available in six languages: English, French, German, Polish, Russian and Spanish. [10] A beta version of the game was released for Kickstarter backers on January 17, 2016, and through Steam Early Access on January 26, 2016. [29]

On June 9, 2016, inXile announced that the game's beta is available for all Kickstarter backers. [5] On August 4, 2016, inXile announced that the game would additionally be released on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on the same release date as previous platforms. [30] The game was released on February 28, 2017 on the Windows, Linux, MacOS, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 platforms. [31] [32]


Aggregate score
Metacritic (PC) 81/100 [33]
(PS4) 76/100 [34]
(XONE) 79/100 [35]
Review scores
Destructoid 7.5/10 [36]
Game Informer 8.5/10 [37]
Game Revolution Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [38]
GameSpot 9/10 [39]
IGN 8.8/10 [40]
PC Gamer (US) 89/100 [41]
Polygon 8/10 [42]
VideoGamer.com8/10 [43]

Torment: Tides of Numenera received "generally favorable" reviews, according to video game review aggregator Metacritic. [33] [34] [35]

Destructoid 's Ray Porreca scored the game a 7.5/10, arguing that "[its] various parts [...] come together in a solid package. Though it isn’t perfect, there’s no doubt that this is an RPG that will appeal to a specific type of person." Porecca criticized the combat, saying "[t]he turn-based system is functional, but even with a host of skills and companions to help pitch in, it still feels clunky". He, however, praised the worldbuilding and character creation and recommended it to "role-players keen on experiencing a game of consequences and twisted fantasy". [36]

James Kozanitis's 4.5 out of 5 stars score on Game Revolution stated that "Whereas the fun in a game like For Honor comes from physically learning how to play, the fun in Tides of Numenera comes from achieving encyclopedic knowledge of a whole new universe through truly meaningful choices." [38]

Leif Johnson from IGN gave the game a score of 8.8/10 saying that "Torment: Tides of Numenera delivers a deep and satisfyingly strange RPG world loaded with text-based storytelling." [40]

Chris Thursten of PC Gamer awarded it an 89/100 stating that "A slow start gives way to a thought-provoking adventure in a remarkable setting. A fitting follow-up to a beloved RPG." [41]

"Aside from some issues with encounter balance and my yearnings for more detail, it’s a beautiful, challenging game, content to be ambiguous, rich and confounding in ways that few other RPGs have ever pulled off" was Carli Velocci's conclusion with a score of 8/10 on Polygon [42]

Alice Bell's score of 8/10 on said that "Great writing and environment design, combined with an epic story and wide range of player choice, make Tides of Numenera a wonderful RPG. The reliance on text won't be for everyone, but fans of the genre are going to love it." [43]

Eurogamer ranked the game 15th on their list of the "Top 50 Games of 2017". [44]


The game won the award for "Best Setting" in Game Informer 's 2017 RPG of the Year Awards. [45]

2017 Develop Awards Best WritingNominated [46]
Golden Joystick Awards Best StorytellingNominated [47]
2018New York Game Awards 2018Off-Broadway Award for Best Indie GameNominated [48]
21st Annual D.I.C.E. Awards Role-Playing Game of the YearNominated [49]

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Planescape: Torment is a role-playing video game developed by Black Isle Studios and published by Interplay Entertainment. Released for Microsoft Windows on December 12, 1999, the game takes place in locations from the multiverse of Planescape, a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy campaign setting. The game's engine is a modified version of the Infinity Engine, which was used for BioWare's Baldur's Gate, a previous D&D game set in the Forgotten Realms.

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