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- Planescape: Torment
Surprised by the recent Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition announcement? So were we. Before the remaster was even announced, a key for the full game showed up in our inbox here at GameRevolution. When I saw the trailer above posted on Reddit (hours before embargo, so tsk tsk, leakers), I thought for sure that its title "Launch Trailer" was a mistake, and they meant to title it "announcement trailer."
Rest assured, Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition is coming out in just two short weeks, and, in another surprise, the review embargo has already lifted. While we're working through our copy, here is a summary of our impressions thus far:
New UI and visuals are a treat. Beamdog, who also enhanced and expanded on Baldur's Gate, added several modern features to Planescape that gives it a fresh new feel. You can now use the tab key to highlight interactive elements in the environment, for example. Graphically, characters have more defined outlines, have more vibrant colors and are generally more interest to look at.
It's easy to be overwhelmed. This can be both good and bad. Like any RPG of this nature, you're going to be given loads of information that you can't possibly be expected to entirely process, especially if you're new to the game or even this genre. It's such a dialogue-heavy game that your eyes might start to glaze over while reading everything. In a game like Torment: Tides of Numenera (the spiritual successor to Planescape), they found a clever solution to this problem that should have been replicated in Planescape the second time around.
After you already picked a dialogue option in Tides, they added the word "again." So one line might say "Tell me who you are again." That way, you know immediately if you've already chosen a line of dialogue just by scanning for that word. This now makes Planescape, even in its remastered form, feel a bit dated, because its ease of use hasn't been updated.
The good part about being overwhelmed in Planescape: Torment is the sheer amount of quests you can take on without making too much physical progress. You can walk for what would normally take five minutes and stop 10 times along the way and pick up 12 quests. I had picked up 10 quests before I even completed two. It's great that a game like this doesn't feel linear, like its holding your hand.
You can still tell its age. Remastered or not, certain things don't get fixed by texture flattening. For instance, you have to be clicking at the feet of an NPC in order to interact with it. The head, the body or the legs won't do. You need to hit that circle beneath their feet which isn't even visible until you put your mouse there. It's but a slightly annoying nuisance, but its also one that later games have improved upon and eliminated.
Journal could have used more updating. This is certainly present in the original game, but the journal doesn't sort notes under different quests you undertake. So, while it's good that Planescape gives you a lot of quests to work on, its hard to sort out all the new details you learn from each one. Your journal does include a nice search function, which lets you find the relevant notes manually, but that seems like a solution to a problem that the game itself created by not sorting your notes.
Dialogue lacks obvious meaning. This is one of those good and bad things, as well. On one hand, I like the air of mystery in each option presented. But, it's also easy for me to feel like I'm not influencing the game at all, at least in the early going. I imagine this will improve as time goes on, but, at one point, the game warned me how someone might react if I should ask her a certain question, rather than just letting me ask the question and see how she reacted. This can make choosing lines feel inconsequential.