This was the second game use the Infinity Engine after Baldur's Gate (or should that be Forgotten Realms: Baldur's Gate), so I'm expecting the same sort of gameplay from it. Well, to be honest I already know exactly what kind of gameplay it has as I've played it before, though I didn't get very far. All I really remember about the game is getting locked inside a tomb and nibbled to death by an army of super intelligent rats over and over again until I turned it off in despair.
Character creation is pretty streamlined compared to Baldur's Gate, with no portrait, gender, race, class, alignment, skills or appearance options to worry about. I don't even have to give the guy a name! Instead I just get these six attributes to divide my fixed pool of points into.
I've heard that the game is more about talking than fighting, so I'm going to take a risk and put most of my points into Intelligence and Wisdom to unlock new dialogue options, recall memories, and get an XP bonus. I'll put a couple of points into Charisma too as a bit of persuasiveness and personal magnetism can't hurt my efforts to attain conversational superiority.
Actually Morte is performed by legendary voice actor Rob Paulsen (who would have also been playing Pinky in 'Pinky and the Brain' at the time) and he's great in the role... for the two lines of voiced dialogue he gets before it switches to silent text. In fact I'd go as far as saying he's the most entertaining talking skull since Murray in The Curse of Monkey Island.
The floating skull explains that Nameless has instructions tattooed onto his back, Memento-style, telling him to READ his journal and go FIND a man called Pharod, who can explain the rest of what's going on. But that presents a bit of a problem seeing as Nameless doesn't have a journal on him and Morte claims he's got no idea who Pharod is.
"A system of rails is running through the whole room. It looks like the slabs in the room can be moved around on these rails."Then why didn't the guy pushing Nameless around on a slab in the intro use the rails, huh, HUH?
Before I go on my epic quest for identity I'll need to arm myself. Fortunately when I scrolled over I found plenty of sharp implements on the shelves nearby. Bandages seem to be a fun alternative to health potions, so I'll load up on them as well.
The game controls just as you'd expect from a mouse driven RPG: I click on things, and Nameless wanders off to investigate, loot, or kill said things, based on his own discretion. If I was going to describe the UI with one word it'd be 'intuitive', at least to me; I'm not feeling a urgent need to crack open the manual for this one. If I was going to use more words I'd probably just start going on about the save icon being a floppy disk and how that's awesome, so I'll spare you.
|It's all traced, I assure you.|
I suppose he must work out.
this battle music is really reminding me of the Predator theme. I just thought that needed to be said.
Miraculously I actually survived the zombie onslaught, then walked off into another room and got one-shotted by a giant skeleton. Game Over.
Actually Nameless just woke up back on his slab again with Morte at his side, but with gear and memory intact this time. The guy is basically Wolverine without the arm blades; he's even got (very slow) regenerating health.
*Power only applicable to those who are currently travelling with Nameless in his party and who have died in his presence.
This is actually bringing back one of my own memories of playing the game years ago: I have remembered... getting my team wiped out because I never found this woman or acquired this skill. It seems pretty easy to miss for something apparently vitally important to have.
I finally have a chance to sell my junk, meet up with Pharod, and hunt for clues to my dark past.
I've been struggling to figure out what exactly I'm looking at with these pre-rendered background, but I've got no complaints about the character models. The game is a little more zoomed in than Baldur's Gate, with larger, more detailed sprites, and they look great in motion.
There's also a bunch of charms here that seem to get nastier as the list scrolls down, each apparently designed to be consumed to unlock their power. Personally I think I'll pass, as I have ambitions of keeping my dinner down.
I can take two or three of them on in a fight, but once any more than that show up I try to get my ass elsewhere.
After I choose to hand over the five coins, Rotten William reveals that I can find Pharod near Ragpicker's Square and that I should look out for his Collectors. Then he offers me a purse full of cash to murder his rival.
I of course declined, as Nameless One is hardly a hired killer. I mean he might have been at some point, I wouldn't have a clue, but right now he can barely hold his own against a worn out zombie. Even Morte's got more muscle on him.
Fortunately I was already being chased by that other gang, so it wasn't long before the two sides met and suddenly no one much cared about me any more. I just stepped out of the way and let the two sides slaughter each other. Then I walked back over the corpses afterwards to claim all their dropped loot. Not a bad amount of profit from a five coin investment I reckon.
I can even add my own notes, which is practically necessary with all the named NPCs around I need to keep track of. Not that they'll necessarily still be standing where I left them when I come back; they do like to go wandering.
Fortunately I'm pretty close right now, so I'll only have to hike through the top left quadrant of The Hive, and The Nameless One gets around at a pretty impressive pace. Including loading screens I bet I could make it to Ragpicker's Square in less than 15 seconds. Plus I don't even have to gather my party before venturing forth.
MORE THAN 15 SECONDS LATER.
I just have to try not to piss him off before I get the info out of him.
I click on an enemy, wait to see if I win, click on the next enemy, wait to see if I win, pause and use a health charm, click on the next enemy etc. It wouldn't be so bad if I actually got any experience from defeating these enemies, but the reward is absolutely pitiful. Something like 15 XP per kill and I believe that's then split between both my characters.
500XP REWARD. Just for caring... uh, I mean *caring* about a tree. To be fair, belief can shape reality in this place, so I might have actually made a difference here.
I got another 1000XP for hanging around a builder and figuring out how to read his language. I've been knee-deep in combat in basically every place I've been so far, but the game definitely seems to give much greater rewards for more thoughtful solutions. Or just reading the text and then choosing the first answer really, though I'm assuming my high Intelligence score is the main reason for that.
I'll need 6712 experience points to reach the next level, so that's around... 900 dead Collectors or 400 dead thugs I guess. Or 20 good deeds.
Hello NPC #15009, do you know where Pharod is? Do you know where my journal is? No? Well that... wait, you want to join my party? Seriously?
Dak'kon wants to join my party!
According to IMDb, the guy only ever appeared in three video games, two of them X-Files tie-ins, but I guess if you're going to make a rare surprise appearance in a game, you might as well make it an enduring cult classic (with apparently very few lines to read out).
I guess this character list has just spoiled another two future members of my team. I've actually seen Annah and Ignus around, but they didn't seem very interested in joining up just yet. One was kind of rude and the other was on fire.
MUCH MUCH LATER.
Sigil has doors to every plane of reality across the multiverse, hidden in archs, doorways, picture frames, etc. until someone finds the key to activate and reveal them. Each portal has its own key, which can be anything from an emotion, a glass rose, an iron nail held 'tween y'second and fifth fingers... maybe even an actual key. And that's why it's called Planescape.
This particular portal took me about 5 meters to the left, but hey it did the job.
Oh by the way, if I were to select all my heroes and tell them to attack the one enemy together it wouldn't quite work, as one of them usually gets stuck behind the others and struggles to figure out how to get around. Not a huge crisis, but it's another frustration.
I am really honestly stuck now.
First though, I've got to go do her shopping for her. This is apparently essential for studying the art of magic, just like how you have to wash the fence and paint the car to master kung fu, (or whatever). Wax on, wax off and all that.
THREE TEDIOUS TRIPS TO THE MARKET LATER.
Unfortunately I can only learn five spells at this level and once they've all been cast I need to rest to recharge them. But I can't rest inside the dungeons, so let's just hope that I only face five enemies per dungeon from now on and they all go down in a single shot, or else Nameless will be spending most of the fights watching Morte and Dak'kon kill things.
At the end of the passageway I found the trapdoor I was looking for, guarded by a guy called Bish. Incredibly and amazingly I managed to talk my way through this one peacefully by picking option 6 and saying that "I was told I could locate Pharod around these parts." And thus Bish escaped the tragic fate of Sharegrave, Rotten William (RIP) and so many others, and 1200 XP was mine.
Incidentally, this is not an uncommon number of dialogue options for this game. It'd be fair to say that there's no shortage of words in Planescape: Torment.
Still, this gives me an excellent opportunity to show off the pop-up radial actions menu I have to use to cast my new spells. I'm not a fan to be honest, I prefer Baldur's Gate's static bar of spells and skills. For one thing with a static bar I don't have to open the damn thing up every time I want to do anything.
A MINUTE LATER.
Well I've found Pharod so this seems like an excellent place to turn this off, but it's also a good time for me to mention that I love how I'm often given two identical lines to say, though with different intent. It basically gives me the ability to lie, which is pretty handy in a game that has a morality system monitoring my actions, and it's a shame I don't see it in RPGs more often I reckon.
Alright, so here's my utterly non-controversial opinion on the first few hours of Planescape: Torment: I didn't love it, though I liked it way more than I did on my earlier attempt so many years ago.
Whether it was the game's fault or my own, I ended up spending hours wandering around the same couple of slums trying to find clues to Pharod's location, when I actually had all the info I needed and I was just misreading the scenery, and man that got tedious. Especially with Nameless saying "done" whenever I clicked a new destination for him. It's sounds just like he's saying "dumb" over and over again, and I got to the point where I could only agree with him.
But I do love the fact that it's not set in yet another generic fantasy realm of elves, dwarves, dragons, knights and archers etc. (not that I hate Tokienesque settings, I'm just a fan of variety), and there's a real effort been made to flesh out the universe and drag the player in. I also appreciated how the optional sidequests I've stumbled across have been used to cunningly introduce concepts and themes important to the game, such as the woman stranded from her universe who teaches the player about planes and portals, or the man *caring* for a tree who reveals how belief can affect reality in Sigil.
Honestly even if I didn't like the gameplay I'd be tempted to finish it just for the story. Which is good because it's tiring me out already. Walk to this guy, have a long conversation, walk to this guy, have a long conversation; it's like Monkey Island with tedious fights instead of item puzzles! It is a funny game though, when it wants to be, as its world is as absurd as it is bleak. I'm basically just talking myself into continuing with it here now so I'll shut up and give the game a star so it'll leave me alone.
I'd like to apologise about that unassailable fortress of text above, as the game appears to have inspired me to excessive verbosity. Anyway I've said my words about the game, now you can say yours, if you have any to say. And why wouldn't you, you're all bright opinionated people with unique and interesting perspectives after all.