Planewalking instead of net sufing

Internet deprivation is torture for us young folk. No Facebook (unless you have a smart phone), no Steam games, no YouTube fail clips, no website browsing for research. Nothin. Some good did, however, ooze out of the Bog of Eternal Disconnected. Ever hear of a game called Planescape: Torment?

It’s an entertaining RPG about an immortal man (The Nameless One) who wakes in a mortuary and tries to recall his past to make sense of his present predicament. And you do not need a persistent net connection to play it.

You will make friends, you will laugh at the state-of-the-art character animations and the combat system might frustrate you if you venture too far. Your first companion is a floating skull named Morte. He cracks jokes and provides comic relief in a somewhat gloomy context. Your first task is to find a key to escape the mortuary. Do you club the docile zombie workers or do you pilfer their pockets?

Your choices determine your class. Pick fights with town thugs and you will become a fighter whereas stealing from people will see you become a thief. Your actions determine your morality too. This is a game built on D&D rules and lore after all.

Unlike the slick and narrow dungeon crawls of today, your journey as The Nameless One is meant to be savoured, enjoyed; like a novel. Comparing Torment to a novel is apt because there is a lot of excellent dialogue to be had and the world that Black Isle Studios has created is well crafted. You can talk yourself out of most situations like that one time where a gang leader has stolen from a citizen and you convince the dim-witted bully that he will be cursed if he keeps his newly acquired loot. Alternatively a brawl would’ve ensued but the game does reward clever solutions with bonus experience points.

Torment seems timeless because it trades glamorous visuals for an intelligent and engaging story. The death/rebirth mechanic is brilliant. Should you die in a fight you will wake somewhere safe. Should a companion die in battle and you do not resurrect them, they will be lost forever. Only the protagonist enjoys immortality.

Then again, does our tribal-looking cave man truly enjoy immortality? One of the main themes of Torment is death (or what it means to die and what lies beyond that).  Admittedly I have not progressed very far in the game so I will continue to plod along and enjoy my stay in Sigil.


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