04 - The Double Edge

04 – The Double Edge

Even though I have been raving about Torment, it is not without its troubles that are beginning to manifest themselves. I am still enjoying the game just as much as I remember from the first time I played it. The writing is consistent throughout the story and the quests are generally interesting with good back story and interesting objectives. Glad I can enjoy myself while setting out on this long journey.

Take the bad with the good.

The Infinity Engine is generally known for its excellent combat mechanics. Icewind Dale is often revered as an excellently distilled D&D campaign with balanced and varied combat situations requiring adaptation and player knowledge to be stretched at every beat in the plot. This was also touched upon recently with Dragon Age which was, in some respects, a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate with tactical combat, D&D style rolls and spells, and ‘epic’ story. Planescape does not fall into this category.

Combat in this title is clunky at best. Every battle so far consists of me fighting uniform groups of bad guys (Thugs, zombies, rats, etc.) with no change in tactics between them.  This includes:
  1.   Highlighting all party characters
  2.  Clicking on enemy closest to us
  3.  Wait until it’s dead
  4.  Repeat with the next one

The good news is that combat is pretty easy and has not caused any problems in progression. I just hope that I’m able to get around this in the future. One of the big advantages of playing PS:T on a modern system is that the widescreen mod exists. A typical complaint about the game is that the perspective is entirely too close to the character. It is nice for the art as it can be showcased, but, for combat, this view is not ideal. Having a view of the whole battlefield and all the monsters is nice when you run into large groups that may stray from the field of vision at a lower resolution.

[The game in all of its original 640x480 glory.]

Another solution the designers put into the game is the ability for The Nameless One to infinitely resurrect party NPCs if they expire. They also keep all their stuff on their corpse which is great. I hated carrying all of another character’s heavy things to the temple to get him or her resurrected. You are resurrected at the mortuary if you die in the city or at the beginning of the dungeon if you don’t survive there. (I like to imagine Morte pulling your giant, limp, muscle-bound corpse to the entrance of the area using only his teeth.) Although this may be detrimental from a challenge point of view, it is obvious the designers want the player to progress in the story without frustrating them to the point of quitting. I appreciate that as this isn’t that type of game. Dark Souls is.

What have you been up to?
Since becoming a mage, my life has gone pretty much back to basic RPG elements: mainly running around asking random people if they have errands for me to run. The introductory area, known as ‘The Hive’, is separated into four quadrants: The Mortuary and Dustman Bar (NE), The Burning Man Pub (SE), The Market (SW), and the entrance to an even crappier slum called ‘Ragpicker’s Square’ (NW). I usually try to only tackle one section at a time, but this just won’t work with all the quests having me run all over town. I’ve heard rumblings that Pharod (The guy who may have my journal) is hiding in Ragpicker’s Square, but I won’t be heading there yet. I’ve got some business to take care of.

First stop is at the Burning Man Pub for some drinks. The main attraction here is a guy on display who is ETERNALLY ON FIRE. This is the kind of off the wall thing that occurs all the time in this game. After speaking to his former lover, I learned that this guy is named Ignus and is obsessed with fire magic. Because of his experimentation, he has becomes trapped between this realm and that of fire. She also informed me that he prophesied my arrival and that I would release him from his torture. Obviously, he was not entirely right because I don’t know how to do this yet so she keeps annoyingly asking me “Are you going to free him go now?”

I also ran into another NPC who joined my party called Dak’kon who has a blade formed by only by his mind. Now this guy was pretty interesting. I convinced him to join my party by having a philosophical argument about what knowing yourself means. I repeated his own past words to him he had forgotten. Cool huh? He also has a disc that contains the “Bible” of his people with their history and philosophy. This translates to 30 minutes of me reading this history on the disc and telling him what I learned. I thought it was a great way to find his background story rather than mindless exposition and also allows a display of a wide variety of narrative voices.

[My new buddy.]

Continued chats with patrons didn’t reveal terribly much. I chatted with an old dwarf who told me of his faction and the barkeep who yelled at me for a previous incident. Apparently I trashed his bar in the past, left the mess, and left my eye as payment. To get the eye back I need to pay him back for the damages. Kind of like the Hangover, huh? And yes, you heard right, one of your accessory slots is AN EYEBALL. You can get several types of lenses later in the game with different effects.

After this, I hopped to another bar: the local Dustman hangout known as the ‘Gathering Dust Bar’. The main beats I hit here were talking to a young member doubting her belief in the Dustman philosophy and taking a contract to find out why the dead are walking in a crypt within the city. Obviously the Dustmen want people to stay dead, so let’s find out why.

This is where I left off and hope to pick up. I kind of want to power through the main quest to move on, but the side stories are pretty interesting. I may fast track the blog to reflect this and leave more to your experience if you decide to play this game, we'll see.

What’s next?

Life has slowed down a bit and allowed me to do some more playing. I meant to post this over the weekend, but I forgot to put it in the Dropbox. Oops. I actually have another post ready to go soon after about what I did this weekend.

I’ve also been having some trouble with screenshots where the sprites are missing. Not sure what’s going on. It doesn’t seem to happen all the time and my experiments haven’t shown any particular issues that cause it. I guess I’ll find out later. Let me know if you have any ideas or solutions, as well.

Next time I’ll talk about finding Pharod, my thoughts on gaming as an adult, and if I may have fallen out of unconditional love with Planescape.

--Backlog Killer