2 - Planescape: Torment
Here we go.
I'm very excited to get started with this game which is a good sign as I haven't really been looking forward to playing games from my backlog for a while. I really think this blog may have me on the right track, so let' jump right into the game info.
A classical background.
Planescape: Torment is a computer role playing game developed by Black Isle Studios and published in 1999 by Interplay. Black Isle are responsible for many other modern RPG classics such as Fallout 2 and Icewind Dale. Interplay is no slouch either, having published Baldur's Gate, the Freespace Series (also on my list), and Giants: Citizen Kabuto. The game runs on the Infinity engine used to make Baldur's Gate offering a strategic isometric view, the ability to pause combat at any time to assign new orders, and is known for detailed hand drawn backgrounds and assets. This rich tradition of quality and gameplay continues through this title.
[The classic isometric view of the Infinity Engine]
Torment takes place in the Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting of Planescape in which all possible planes, both physical and non-physical, touch at the central city known as Sigil. This gets pretty deep and can be read about here. For the purposes of this game, suffice it to say that the city is filled with interesting people and creatures from everywhere, quite literally. This sets the stage for one of the most interesting and freshest settings for a fantasy role playing game. Instead of dwarves and elves who look like they were rejected from a Lord of the Rings spinoff, you encounter mages trapped in the plane of fire with eternally burning and blistering skin, legions of undead living in a secret society beneath the city crypts, and the spawn of demons who are just trying to make an honest (or dishonest) living.
You are The Nameless One; an amnesiac who literally cannot die. Your quest is simple: Find out who you are. Throughout your journey you will meet characters you have interacted with over the course of many lifetimes. This is where the genius part of the game comes in my opinion. Through all of your lives, you have had thousands of different personalities and everyone will react to you differently based on when they met you. Skulking thief, powerful mage, and berzerking warrior, you've done it all. In some lives you have even been completely insane! Your experience earned from finished quetss and combat doesn't come from new experiences, but from remembering old ones. This is where we will begin.
Where did you dig up this particular gem?
I remember the exact situation buying this one. I had saved up the money I was earning working part-time at a certain high profile electronics retailer in my town. I had enough to buy one new game and was in the mood for an RPG. It was 2000 and my choice was between Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale, another infinity engine game. I remember standing with my buddy at Babbage's (A PC Game store for kids who are too young) in the mall and being unable to decide. I asked the fat guy at the counter which one was better and he said something like "Well, Icewind Dale has good combat, but if you don't mind reading, Torment has an awesome story". I figured I was up to the challenge of reading a video game and bought Torment. Boy howdy, was he right. This game has a TON of text to read. It's pretty much a text adventure with a clunky visual UI that just serves to get you from conversation to conversation.
[The part of gaming that has gone the way of the Dodo.]
I did finish the game within several months and enjoyed every minute of it. I have not played it since and have forgotten almost every detail of the plot, so it's almost like I'm playing it for the first time again. Most people beg for this kind of opportunity. When I saw it go up on GOG.com, I snapped it up immediately to play. Two years later, here we are.
I would like to say that Good Old Games almost always includes lots of great extras with their games. PST is not forgotten and includes a PDF scan of the manual, wallpapers, an avatar set, and the complete soundtrack which is excellent. Check it out for a great value.
The game opens with you simply waking up on a slab in a huge building known as the 'Mortuary' after being brought in by the caretakes, known as 'Dustmen' after dying yet again. You are accosted by a disembodied skull known as Morte and begin your adventure. Check in next time when I will have some play time under my belt and some experiences to share.
While waiting, check out the intro to the game here.