“Reading,” the Nigerian poet Ben Okri said once, “is an act of civilization.” Torment: Tides of Numenera embraces this idea, pairing a whole fantasy novel’s worth of quality quest text with a design foundation that champions chatting with enemies rather than running them through with swords. It’s a strange concept in the context of most roleplaying games, and Torment: Tides of Numenera delivers a satisfyingly strange world to complement it. It’s too bad that the combat falls short when it’s actually necessary, but the surrounding world usually presents enough memorable wonders to make up for it.
As a spiritual successor to 1999’s Planescape: Torment, one of the finest (and strangest) RPGs ever made, Torment: Tides of Numenera embraces its predecessor’s isometric design with its use of the capable Pillars of Eternity engine. More importantly, it preserves Planescape: Torment’s weird philosophical tone and aesthetic, filling the screen with everything from quasi-medieval markets to entire cities crafted out of meat.