Torment: Tides of Numenera Review

A role-playing game inspired by science-fiction and fantasy

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2.7

Torment: Tides of Numenera

Torment: Tides of Numenera

Lifewire / Kelsey Simon

What We Like
  • Unique worldbuilding

  • Lots of story

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy-handed writing

  • Outdated graphics

  • Boring gameplay

Torment: Tides of Numenera is a third-person role-playing game focused on offering players an exciting, detailed world to explore with dialogue prompts and specific choices that will influence the story as the player goes on. 

2.7

Torment: Tides of Numenera

Torment: Tides of Numenera

Lifewire / Kelsey Simon

Torment: Tides of Numenera is the second game in the Torment series, offering players a rich world inspired by combining science-fiction and fantasy elements. Loaded with heavy-handed storytelling, players might find it hard to push through the poor graphics and the boring gameplay to truly enjoy the game’s plot. We had a rough time even making it through 10 hours of the game, latching on to the game’s one highlight, it’s rich and unique worldbuilding. Read on to see how it stacked up to the other games on our best PC games roundup. 

Story: Heavy-handed writing to the exclusion of all else

Torment: Tides of Numenera is a third-person role-playing game focused strongly on story―and oh, there is so much story. The game begins with the character you’ll play as waking up in a panic. Someone will narrate everything that’s going on to you, including what the area around you looks like. After a short introduction, you’ll be prompted to pick what you want to play as: Glaive, Jack, or Nano. These will roughly translate into someone more physical, someone mixed physical and magical, and a mage, but of course, set in this strange half-fantastical, half-science-fiction world where everything is new and unique.

Torment: Tides of Numenera
Lifewire / Kelsey Simon

This whole introduction is slow moving and boring, and getting through it is rough. But even past this, things don’t necessarily pick up and get more interesting. The game has such a heavy hand with its narration, telling you the game’s visuals even though you can see them right there on your screen. The whole game reads like someone wrote a novel, couldn’t publish it, and then decided making a video game was a better idea, and instead of trimming the fat, they left every unnecessary description and detail in the game’s prompt.

I did continue forward, even though I was already disinterested, hoping the game would become more gripping. After the memory room, you’ll wake to another platform where a being tells you you’ve suffered a great injury and they are in your mind. He tries to explain who you are but before he gets too far, you’ll be attacked by something called the Sorrow. Eventually, you’ll wake in the real world, enter the game’s main city, and be able to talk to the wealth of characters living there. You’re a castoff of the powerful Changing God, and you’ve got a lot to figure out―the question is, do you want to read a poorly written novel in video game format? 

You’re a castoff of the powerful Changing God, and you’ve got a lot to figure out―the question is, do you want to read a poorly written novel in video game format? 

Gameplay: Dialogue prompts and effort

The Tides of Numenera is a third-person role-playing game where almost 75 percent of the gameplay is scrolling dialogue boxes and the various prompts that will pop up as the game tells you the story. These prompts will allow you control over how the story unfolds, and this, more than anything else, is the game’s main mechanic.

Torment: Tides of Numenera
Lifewire / Kelsey Simon

Beyond this, the other major gameplay mechanic is a system of effort and inspiration. Every action you take will prompt you to use effort. This effort allows for your character to work harder at the chosen action, and thus gives your character a better chance of accomplishing their goal. 

This system is set in place in an attempt to allow you some control over which tasks you want to prioritize with effort―but understand that a lot of the game is built around failure. The game even tells you as much in the introduction. Failing doesn’t mean you’ve messed up, it just means you’ll be set on a different course of the game’s story. Really, I never felt this mechanic offered more than giving players a false sense of control. In reality, the effort prompts didn’t feel like they added much to the overall gameplay experience, they certainly didn’t add any much needed excitement.

Basically, every interaction you have with another character or within the world will have the potential to alter your character’s personality, morality, and skills. 

The inspiration aspect is probably the game’s most interesting gameplay mechanic. While you are exploring the world and speaking to characters, you’ll sway them depending on the various prompts. This alignment system will affect the story and what prompts become available for your character. Basically, every interaction you have with another character or within the world will have the potential to alter your character’s personality, morality, and skills. 

Overall, this game was a weak attempt at offering players the experience of a novel in video game format. The storytelling is very heavy-handed. The writing is weak and full of repeated telling of things you can easily see on-screen around you. There’s little to no direction about where to go or what exactly you should be doing, and combined with the long paragraphs of text, things becomes boring fast. The one thing the game does have to offer is a rich and unique world that combines elements of fantasy and science fiction in an interesting way. It’s just a shame that it gets buried under such heavy, inactive storytelling.

The one thing the game does have to offer is a rich and unique world that combines elements of fantasy and science fiction in an interesting way.

Graphics: Outdated and simplistic

Tides of Numenera was created in 2017―however, you wouldn’t know this if you jumped into the game and made a guess based upon the graphics. The graphics look more like they’re stuck in the early 2000s, with blocky, almost pixelated characters. There is some forgiveness to be had because the game isn’t focused on the visuals―it’s more about the words and the story. But there is a limit to how forgiving one can be considering the game isn’t that old. 

The one positive is the originality in the world the developers have created. The setting feels unique―a mix of strange alien tech within a fantasy city. A wide range of characters will fill the game, and they respond and react in creative ways. It’s also a fun experience to run around and talk to these various characters and explore the game’s world and the lore of Numenera.

Torment: Tides of Numenera
Lifewire / Kelsey Simon

Price: Only worth it if you’re keen on the story

Torment: Tides of Numenera is still an expensive game, costing $50 on Steam when it’s not on sale. It’s a game created with a very specific type of player in mind―and I suspect most people are not going to like it. 

That said, if role-playing games with a text-heavy focus are of interest to you, then the game does have a lot to offer for the cost. The world of Numenera is vast, and considering all the prompts that alter the story, the game also has a lot of replayability. While Tides of Numenera wasn’t really my thing, it could be a fun adventure for someone else, and for those players, the $50 cost will be worth it.

While Tides of Numenera wasn’t really my thing, it could be a fun adventure for someone else.

Competition: Other story focused RPGs

There are quite a few other games available that are story-focused RPGs besides Tides of Numenera. Wasteland 2 (view on Amazon) is a very similar game, as it is made by the same developers, but where Numenera falls flat with its heavy-handed storytelling, Wasteland 2 stands apart with a fun, tactical combat system. 

Another third-person RPG that will have a great and well-developed world to explore is Pillars of Eternity (view on Amazon). The game will allow you to explore a rich fantasy world and its huge dungeon, and while still rich in story, won’t bog you down to the point of boredom. The last game I’ll recommend looking at is any of the Mass Effect titles. Mass Effect does a great job of building a rich science-fiction world while also giving the player a story filled story-altering choices and decisions.

Final Verdict

A text-heavy RPG that doesn’t live up to its predecessor. 

Torment: Tides of Numenera is a role-playing game focused on creating an experience that is more novel than video game. The storytelling is text heavy, but the world is rich and unique, mixing sci-fi and fantasy elements. Unfortunately, the unique world wasn’t enough to carry me through the outdated graphics and boring gameplay.

Specs

  • Product Name Torment: Tides of Numenera
  • Product Brand Techland
  • Price $49.99
  • ESRB Rating M for Mature
  • Available Platforms PC, MaxOS,Xbox One, PlayStation 4