There has never been a better time to play Planescape: Torment. This venerable old game was once just a classic gaming memory for RPG enthusiasts. Now, an enhanced addition is available on Steam and even on iOS, meaning you can enjoy this game on the go.
Originally released in 1999, the enhanced edition of Planescape: Torment came out in 2017. Once you realize that nothing has quite managed to replicate the originality of Planescape: Torment, you’ll understand the lasting appeal of the game.
Enhanced, But Not New
The version of Planescape: Torment being sold now is billed as “enhanced.” It’s important to clarify exactly what that means.
First, nothing new has actually been added. This is a good thing for Planescape purists who might have been worried that it would get the kinds of unnecessary additions the enhanced version of Baldur’s Gate received.
For better or for worse, what you get here is the original game with some cleaned up graphics. And if you don’t like those shinier graphics, you can always toggle them off and enjoy the game exactly as it looked back in 1999.
If you do want to change the gameplay experience, the Enhanced Edition does support mods, just like the old one did. However, the old mods won’t work — you’ll need to download something new. And, of course, those mods only work on the PC version of the game. Sorry, iOS users!
If you’ve never played games like the original Baldur’s Gate, then Planescape: Torment’s gameplay might be a bit confusing. Basically, you have to click on just about everything. Click on terrain to move, click on friends to talk, click on foes to fight, and so on.
In theory, this is one of the things that makes this game such a friendly port to iOS. Instead of using a clunky onscreen controller, you simply let your fingers do the walking on your iPhone or iPad.
However, fingers are typically less precise than a mouse. You may run into some trouble during combat, especially when you need to switch targets in a hurry.
Overall, though, the port from PC to iOS is surprisingly smooth.
You know how people talk about games being a lot harder “back in the day?” What they are usually referring to is tutorials (or the lack thereof).
A modern RPG is likelier to hold your hand and walk you through character building, equipment, combat, and so on. Planescape, though, does none of this!
You are basically just thrown directly into a weird adventure. And while this is fitting for your character (who wakes up as a not-quite-dead dude with a case of amnesia), it can be frustrating as a player.
Don’t get me wrong: this game is completely worth your time to play. Just be ready to use some walkthroughs and character-building guides to help you get started!
Depending on your gaming history, the storytelling in this game may feel very familiar. Why? Because it’s Bioware at their best!
While some of their more recent games have been a bit of a disappointment (I’m looking at you, Anthem and Mass Effect: Andromeda), this game hearkens back to when the company was just picking up steam. And in this game, you can see the seeds of what would make future titles like Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect so thrilling.
Basically, Planescape: Torment is dense with text. This is because of both the massive world-building and the insane amount of dialogue options. While this adds to the game’s fun factor and replay value, the fact that it has more text than a small textbook may be a dealbreaker to some players.
By now, the dialogue system will be familiar to many players: when interacting with NPCs or party members, you have a choice of several different responses. And these responses serve two primary functions.
First, they are the key ingredient to how you roleplay. Will your character be a nice public servant or a selfish and violent thug? Only your reactions to other characters can determine the answer.
Second, your choices also impact the story in real ways. You can talk your way out of battles or into battles, and the game isn’t afraid to give you some very hard moral choices with no easy answers.
Lest you forget, Planescape: Torment is a Dungeons and Dragons game. And those adventures are never meant for only one person.
In this game, you recruit a number of characters to help you fight bad guys and solve a number of intriguing mysteries. Fortunately, the great writing and voice acting helps characters be more than just another fantasy archetype.
If you’ve played something like KOTOR or Mass Effect or Dragon Age, this will feel very familiar to you. And I’m happy to say the characters in this game are just as complex and fleshed-out as any in Bioware’s other games.
Even if you’re not a Bioware or RPG junkie, Planescape: Torment is worth checking out. The price is low, especially on iOS, and you can easily get 40 or 50 hours of gameplay out of it.
Just be ready for that bittersweet feeling when you’ve beaten the game and realize that nothing quite like this has come out in the decades since this game’s release!