Price: $ 9.99
App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Planescape: Torment is one of those games that truly feels like a cult classic. It wasn't a tremendously successful game upon release, but fans of it insist it's an amazing game that has a story that is unmatched to this day. Now that it's available in mobile form, it's easier than ever to take a look to see what all the fuss is about, and let me just say, it isn't exactly pretty. Planescape: Torment truly is a fascinating game, but it's not one that has aged particularly well.
A deadly world
Planescape: Torment is a role-playing game (RPG) in the style of old Infinity Engine games like Baldur's Gate. It's played from an isometric perspective where you tap to move your character around an environment, talk to people, initiate combat, etc. This character that you control is known only as “The Nameless One,” who finds themselves waking up after having been presumed dead and thrown into the Mortuary for incineration.
Once awake, you make fast friends with a talking, floating skull named Morte and the two of you go off in search of your mysterious past. This takes you on an adventure through Sigil and other locations in the Planescape universe of Dungeons and Dragons, which stands out from more generic fantasy settings primarily by being a pretty grotesque and surreal world where different planes of existence intertwine.
Sheath your sword
Unlike most other RPGs, Planscape: Torment focuses primarily on character interaction instead of combat. There are definitely some spots of the game where you do some good, old-fashioned dungeon-crawling, but the vast majority of Torment's quests revolve around dialogue decisions you make when interacting with other characters.
What's also notable is that Torment has an unbelievable amount of writing in it. Whole quest lines can revolve around learning more about the history of certain races or stories that happened to specific characters, and the writers on the game don't tend to gloss over any material. In fact, they write with varying dialects, attitudes, and perspectives, which ends up making the cast of characters feel really varied. Not all of Torment's writing is particularly outstanding, but the sheer amount of it is really amazing and commendable nonetheless.
The trouble with immortality
It's pretty easy to acknowledge and appreciate Torment's unconventional design. The idea of making a Dungeons and Dragons game that doesn't feature elves or massive amounts of combat is a tremendously risky thing to do, even by today's standards. That said though, I found myself fighting to keep playing through Torment because of it's archaic visuals and design elements.
Torment's initial release was back in 1999, and it certainly looks and feels that way. The game's 2D environment is extremely brown the characters that animate over it are pretty blurry. On top of this, the game's interface is really unwieldy, particularly when it comes to progressing through conversation, managing your inventory, and targeting enemies for combat. When these things are constantly getting in your way, it makes it really hard to appreciate Torment's brighter spots.
The bottom line
Even in the opening moments of Planescape: Torment, it's easy to see that it is an important game. Just because it's important though, doesn't mean that it has held up well in the 18 years since its release. Unless you have a high tolerance for old game design or have some deep nostalgia for Infinity Engine RPGs, I'm not sure you'll have a great time controlling Torment, but you may still enjoy how totally unique a game it is.