1990 Silicon Dreams Games and Movie Reviews: Planescape Torment: A Classic RPG Tale

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Planescape Torment: A Classic RPG Tale

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Planescape Torment is a classic RPG from 1999 by Black Isle. The game is based on the same Infinity Engine (by Bethesda) that is getting a big renewal right now for Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 (expected sometime this summer). Planescape Torment is a party-based RPG with a unique world set in the rules of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, although it has its own unique storyline and setting, which revolve around the various Planes that exist in constant motion around the city of Sigil.

Sigil itself is a place, loosely based on some Forgotten Realms lore, where people end up in a sort of limbo, between life and permanent death. You wake up on a stone slab in the mortuary, and soon find out that you have a very interesting past. Apparently you've been reborn various times, and you have some kind of problem with achieving that permanent death, and to top that you lose your memory each time you die, so the only clue to what happened to you in your previous lives is a set of tattoos on your back. Also people tend to refer to you as the Chosen One for some reason.

The game possesses all of the basic RPG elements of the era and some more, you have item slots for your gear, potions, and various objects in the game acts as keys to solving the quests. What makes the game special is the strangely unique world. Nothing works right in Sigil. The city is in constant motion and the decisions you make may even end up changing the architecture. As a result of completing some quests it's possible to end up with some NPCs never existing, with no-one having any recollection of them. Every arch-like structure in Sigil is also a portal to various places within the Planes, if you're carrying the correct object with you, or humming the right melody. Hence the people of Sigil are in constant terror of walking through an arc and ending up in a pit of fire, or in some other dimension full of demons.

The character has some very weird past, it seems every time you were reborn, you ended up as a different person. As you go through the game some people hate you and call you a monster, others remember you as a saviour. A constant theme in the quest to find who you really are/were is the question "What can change the nature of a man?"

Along the way you'll also meet several interesting companions - among them a floating skull, named Mort that's been following you for quite a while and is there with you from the very beginning.

What makes this RPG a cult classic, that's gathered a solid following throughout the years, is the incredible imagination of the developers. Every choice in the game is meaningful in some way, the characters are layered and fascinating each with their unique story. If you're into the Baldur's Gate series, or you enjoyed playing Fallout 1 and 2, this one is definitely for you.


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