The success of Baldur's Gate came as something of a surprise to seasoned games industry 'insiders'. It came out of nowhere to steal the number one spot from illustrious competition. Not that anyone can argue with the quality of the game. It's a superb RPG with extraordinary depth, pretty graphics, and an involving storyline. But it's an RPG, and as everyone knows, nobody really plays games like this with the obvious exception of the proverbial Anorak Army who, friendless and without any purpose in life, sit in darkened bedrooms across the land pondering over stats that only they can understand.
Not any more. RPGs have become fashionable, and Planescape Torment looks like it could be the next big game flaunting its wares on the RPG catwalk. There are several reasons to believe this game is going to be very big. It uses a variation on the highly flexible Baldur's Gate game engine at its core so, technologically at least, it will hold its own against any RPG that may want to take it on in a sort of computer-generated punch up. But, more importantly, Planescape Torment will give you the opportunity to build a character that suits the way you want to play the game.
There will be no character generation screen to greet you at the beginning of Planescape Torment. Your character (ominously dubbed 'The Nameless One') starts the game with a very basic skill-set, and your actions in the game will determine how his character develops over a period of time. It's up to you which skills and spells your character becomes proficient in, and whether he is more suited to using brains over brawn to escape difficult situations.
We really like the sound of this particular feature. People have different ideas as to what constitutes a 'pure' mage or a classic fighter for example. As a result, character generation screens that force upon you what they consider to be an idealistic definition of the character class you choose to play invariably fail, as the designers have no idea what you want to get out of the game.
The non-linear approach to character generation that Planescape Torment aspires to is to be applauded then. In theory, you should be able to 'fine-tune' your character in-game if you find you're getting involved in too much melee combat, or your character is too weak to fight close-up and is running away, while frantically casting spells at your assailants.
As far as the storyline goes, the tale of a man who is resurrected from the dead not knowing who killed him or why is not going to win any awards for originality. However, the payback for this rather predictable scenario lies in the gameplay.
As your character is effectively immortal, he doesn't have to eat, sleep or do any of the things we normal folk have to put up with in day-to-day life. It seems fair to assume, then, that you will spend most of your time in the thick of the action, as opposed to shopping for loaves of bread or a sleeping bag to bring with you on your adventures, which is normally the case with these kinds of games. RPG purists may well complain about this almost irreverent treatment of the genre, but frankly, we don't care. Planescape Torment looks absolutely fantastic from where we're sitting, and we can't wait for the finished game to come in for review.
If Steve Hill was here, he would no doubt be encouraging Interplay to 'bring it on', and you can be sure that we'll be pestering them to do exactly that over the next few months. Watch this space.
Baldur's Gate, the surprise RPG hit of 1999, offered a glimmer of hope for frustrated role-playing gamers fed up with the standard PC adventure game fare, with its two-dimensional bitmapped monsters and two-dimensional blundering plots. Developers Black Isle had cracked it, with a fluid plot, wide choice of party members and hundreds of screens full of monsters and magic.
To the hardcore pen-and-paper brigade, it was just basic hack-and-slash stuff, but to those with a hankering for a good Dungeons & Dragons-style adventure, it was something else. The good news is that Black Isle's next title, Planescape: Torment, makes Baldur's Gate look like a re-run of a 70s soap.
TSR, publishers of the original D&D rules, provide several different campaign settings for fantasy RPG fans. Forgotten Realms - as used in Baldur's Gate - is the archetypal fantasy world where magic users, clerics and fighters take on elves, goblins and dragons. And always win.
Planescape is another, but this time it's an angst-ridden world centred on Sigil, a city full of portals to different planes of existence. As settings go, it's an intensely atmospheric, doomladen and very adult world, strictly for the die-hard pen-and-paper brigade. An understanding of alignment and the different factions in society is just as important as weapon skills and hit points.
Changing The Rules
Torment takes place in this decaying Planescape universe but, while it uses the same graphics engine as Baldur's Gate, albeit radically improved, and the same D&D-derived rules, it's a totally different game. Everything has changed, from the plot to the whole look and feel.
In Torment you take on the role of an immortal amnesiac human being, the Nameless One. You've just been resurrected on a mortuary slab and, while you've no memory of how you ended up here, it quickly becomes clear that it isn't the first time you've been there.
Torment reflects the Planescape setting wonderfully well. The graphics are chilling and broody, especially the indoor scenes and the mortuary. The scenery itself is much more complex than in BG, thanks to the upgraded engine, with plenty of overhead structures, animated objects and some massive monsters like demons and golems, each several times the size of a human. The characters are all beautifully-animated with dozen of different routines for handling each weapon or object. For example, after a fight, your hero will hoist his warhammer over his shoulder while other characters will sheath swords and so on. The spell animations are nothing short of spectacular, and with somewhere near a hundred to choose from, you're unlikely to get tired of them too quickly.
Despite these entirely pre-rendered backgrounds, the character animation can be a little jerky on a minimum spec machine, especially when there are more than a handful of NPCs in play and some locations can get a little confusing when the overhead structures obscure the background. Otherwise the scenery is magnificent.
Use And Abuse
The user interface is different to BGs with more actions more readily available, although some things like the quick weapon and spell slots aren't nearly so easy to access without keyboard shortcuts. As well as the standard character information bar along the bottom of the screen, a single right mouse click brings up a second floating toolbox from which you can quickly choose which skills or items to use in any situation.
Because Planescape: Torment is such a huge and extremely complicated adventure, it's vital to be able to keep track of what's going on. Your 'journal' is automatically updated when you meet interesting characters or take on new quests, and they're all recorded for posterity so that if you forget who someone is, a quick browse through your journal will tell you. There's even an index of names and player characters. More importantly, you can also update your own maps by adding notes and comments, something you'll have to get into the habit of doing if you want to progress.
On A Role
Torment offers a radically new and intriguing method of character development. Instead of deciding what character you want to play, your character develops according to how you play the game. Okay, you still allocate points to the six main D&D character abilities or 'stats', but where you go from there depends as much on your playing style as anything else. In Tormentym character improves his skills by using them. Sneak around a lot and you'll become a better thief. Thunder into situations with your fists-or any other weapon - and your character will become a hard-nosed bruiser that other people step quickly around.
The clever bit is that your character's personality really does make a difference to the game's outcome as the people you meet and interact with will treat you differently according to the way you play. If you have a low or modest charisma and you threaten the individuals you come across instead of charming them, you'll often get no co-operation at all. On the other hand, some characters will be so scared of you that they'll tell you all as soon as you approach them. I played one game as a thug with average stats - moderate charisma, strength, etc - and found it ten times harder to persuade a particular non-player character to give up an item. And in a later game, as an intelligent would-be magic user with higher charisma, I had the item in my backpack after two or three rounds of dialogue. This has the same dialogues, different options but it's always amusing, intelligent and, for a change, superbly well-written.
You can have up to five others in your party and they will all behave in character. In other RPGs and games like BG, if two party members didn't get on they would simply refuse to join up.
In Torment, they will bicker, fight, prevent you questioning a third party, or even go berserk and attack people you want to be friends with. You don't even know their class or alignment at first - all ground-breaking stuff where computer RPGs are concerned.
Baldur's Gate's 'traditional' fantasy setting and logical if rather linear plot made for a good adventure game, but lacks any real role-playing element. Torment reverses this completely. There's even more emphasis on plot, but the accent is on role-playing and not hack-and-slash gold-grabbing.
Where Baldur's Gate was ghosts and goblins, swordplay and spells, Planescape is another world completely. There's a real sense of doom and decay, yet the characters still seem alive and real, even in a world of undead monsters, vile creatures from the other planes, and cleverly-created player and non-player characters, each with their own axes to grind.
The PlanescapemM won't be to everyone's taste but it does provide a rich role-playing environment where nothing is quite what it seems and nobody is really on your side. There are no knights in shining armour in Planescape, just animated corpses, streets full of thugs, thieves and villains every which way you turn. Londoners will feel right at home.
There's no multiplayer option in Torment either, although this isn't really surprising, given the nature of the game and a main plot based on a single character. Other human party members would just get in the way. More to the point, the non-player characters and other prospective party members offer such intelligent dialogues and actions that there'd be no real gain in adding multiplayer support.
The End Is Nigh
The character descriptions and dialogues are well-written and cleverly handled, and you're offered enough options when talking to them that the 'right' question or answer isn't always immediately obvious. True, the second or third time you play the game, you know what to say to get your experience points, although you're still never quite sure whether any particular character is offering a nice easy quest or whether he or she is simply a pointless red herring. It's not perfect but, in many ways, Torment is still light-years ahead of other RPGs.
Without a doubt, this is the best true role-playing game on PC to date. Its level of complexity and intelligent plot knocks Baldur's Gate into oblivion and gives RPG fans a real taste of what PC games could really deliver in the coming year or two. In terms of sheer depth, intelligence and atmosphere, Torment is state-of-the-role-playing-art.
What we thought
"Without a doubt, this is the best true role-playing game on PC to date."
What you think
- "It is much better than Baldur's Gate. At last we are starting to see games with a decent narrative."
- "Planescape: Torment is an excellent game. It doesn't give you the same amount of freedom in developing your starting character as Baldur's Gate did, but it has a much more structured story which drags you in right from the start. And, there are no big empty spaces to explore and get bored with like there were in Baldur's Gate."
- "It's nice to finally be rewarded for role-playing in a role-playing game. You get experience for talking to people and solving riddles, rather than just butchering whole towns. The amount of talking can get quite tiresome, but this is a step in the right direction."
- "I can't believe you gave it a mere 87 per cent, COME ON. The whole review is right on the knickers: the game is atmospheric, has unparalleled graphics and has the best story known to man. In the entire review I can't find anything negative and still you don't reward it with a Classic, damn you. And don't even try telling me that Planescape brings nothing new to the RPC genre, it turns the classic RPG around and still manages to maintain the interest of classic RPG players."
- "I haven't been immersed this much in an RPG since I used to read roll-your-own dice books. The dialogue, the descriptions, the character development, not to mention the story, are all of such divine quality I just can't stop playing it. I've even put off playing another season of Championship Manager until I complete it. Knowing that Neverwinter Nights and Baldur's Gate 2 are on their way makes life worth living.''
- "A great game, but I don't think it quite beats Baldur's Gate. The setting is too strange, there's far too much dialogue and there's something about traditional AD&D that appeals to more people. Also there's not as much freedom to do what you want or to choose who your character is going to be at the start of the game."
- I was intrigued by the review of Planescape: Torment, which appeared to be based totally on the (admittedly effective) eye-candy. Yes, the spell casting looks fantastic, then there's the... well, the... er. Well, that's about it really. Storyline better than Baldur's Gattf No, not exactly. More integrated gameplay than 06? Definitely not. 06 far more successfully integrated the questing/hack 'n' slash/experience point earning into the overall plot. 06 offered far more scope for 'going off to explore', along with some serious moments of spontaneity - PTs quests are rigidly fixed into the framework of the overall storyline - if you miss just one quest, you can seriously screw things up for yourself later. Is PT a more balanced game? Again, 'fraid not. BG offers far more NPC's, interspersed at regular intervals, who have the opportunity to join your party. Overall, PTcould quite easily be played as a singleplayer character. Among the other annoying glitches are Grace's automatic healing spell and the disappearance of the 'battle' narrative. So, better than BG, as the review stated? No. Given BG at 85 per cent, I think 80 per cent would have been much fairer. So, why then, I asked myself, did the reviewer rave so highly? I smell a cranium rat.
We can tell you that we've had raging arguments over this one. A lot of people in the office think it should be a Classic, others disagree. At the end of the day, Ptanescape will go down in history and be fondly remembered as a truly magnificent game, alongside the likes of Ultima VII, and If you have any interest in RPGs whatsoever, it is an essential purchase. If you take a look in the Top 100 at the games we've been playing recently, you'll see its name cropping up regularly. And we can't imagine anything toppling it from the second position in the RPG list. It may not seem fair to compare it to System Shock 2 (for all its innovations and excellence, Ptanescape is a much more traditional role-playing game), but categories are a necessary evil. As for Bubba Az's criticism, all we can say is that you're wrong. The story is fantastic and extremely well told. If the trade off is a slightly more rigid structure, so be It We can't think of any game that gives the player more freedom while giving a clear goal. We'd go as far to say that everybody who plays Ptanescape, plays a different game. Buy it, play it and cherish it forever.
This Planescape: Torment walkthrough should give you all the necessary hints, tips and tricks you will need to find your way sucessfully through to the end of the game.
The game proper starts in The Hive, which has five main areas: the current one (labelled northeast on your world map), the marketplace (southwest), the flophouse (northwest), the Smouldering Corpse Bar (southeast) and the Alley of Dangerous Angles.
Leave the mortuary walls and turn due south for the tomb. Rest up if needed. Tidy your inventory. Keep the item of junk and the pry-bar and ditch the paper, rags and other useless items. There are more than 20 quests in The Hive given to you by NPCs -complete as many as you can, so you're strong enough for the next stage.
If you want to become a mage or a thief, go to Ragpicker's Square (west to the flophouse and then north). Mebbeth helps you become a mage, while Ratbone will train you as a thief. It's best to make the change as early as possible so that your 'easy' experience from The Hive quests will boost you quicker. It's essential to visit the Smouldering Corpse and get Dak'kon to join you. Also, talk to Emoric and Norochj in the Gathering Dust Bar and get the quest to enter the mausoleum. It's full of goodies, but wait until you're at least 4th level before you try it, possibly even higher for mages and thieves. You can gain experience by completing quests and carving up the gangs of thugs.
Make sure you visit Sharegrave and get the quest to find out where Pharod's getting bodies from. Also, visit Mebbeth in Ragpicker's Square for some rest, free healing and as many cures as you can afford (raise cash by selling in the marketplace, in the southwest section).
Follow the wooden walkway leading to a portal. If you have the junk, it will act as a key. If not, search around for more. The portal leads down to the trash warrens and the rather large 'underground' section of the game.
In the trash warrens, speak with Anomoli and talk your way around him. If you have to fight, keep pulling out and healing at Mebbeth's if necessary. Get used to this tactic - you'll use it a lot! Explore the rest of the trash warrens to uncover loads of rats and thugs. Take them on a few at a time. To the north, you'll find a portal (you need a rat tail) to a secret room full of magic items and rats. Southeast is Bish, a heavy you'll probably have to fight. A trapdoor in the floor leads to the Buried Village.
Pharod's Court is northeast of the Buried Village. He tells you to go down the catacombs (southeast exit) and retrieve his bronze sphere. Barr should open the gate if you mention Pharod. To get back out again, just twist his arm (literally). There are traders in the village with useful items. Visit Marta (west) and let her remove the +1 ring from your guts.
Here be cranium rats, wererats, ghouls and lesser vargouilles (bats to you), none of which are too tough. Just make sure you're at least 5th level. Remember, only magic weapons harm wererats. Search everything, as there's lots to grab and the quests are easy.
First thing to do is the Dead Nations. Submit to Hargrimm and the Silent King. Find Stale Mary (southwest), then speak with Hargrimm about her language. Return to Stale Mary and get the ability to speak with the dead, which helps with several quests. There are also a couple of quests from Hargrimm and completing them is the only easy way out of the Dead Nations. The alternative is to kill the Silent King and grab the key. You'll have to wade through everyone else though, so make sure you're in good shape.
Warrens Of Thought
This area is optional, but you can gain a lot of experience. When Mantuok throws you into the prison, search around for some healing items, cash and goodies. Leave by smashing open the south door (or picking the lock) and then talk your way out if you don't fancy the odds. Many-As-One, in the northeast, will offer a quest to discover the Silent King's secret - use the key in his Throne Room.
In the Drowned Nations you're looking for Pharod's bronze sphere. Go southeast and take the third tunnel east, then go down the southwest stairs, south and east. Now head back to the Buried Village, talk to Pharod to get some answers and give him the sphere. Allow Annah to join you. Once Pharod dies (cut-scene tells you), go back to his court and re-take the sphere. It makes things a lot easier at the end.
Tenement Of Thugs
Annah takes you to the Tenement ot Thugs. Empty the entire place and enter the Alley of Lingering Sighs. Kill the dabus and pick up its hammer. If you don't have a crowbar, there's one in the Tenement. To the east is a gate -go through to where you died. Talk to the alley wall and undo the dabus' repairs to get through to the Lower Ward.
Morte is taken off you here. He ends up on the bottom floor of a wrecked house, but you have to complete two quests to get him back, one back in the catacombs.
Here you'll find Nemelle, who'll eventually give you the password for the Decanter of Endless Water, which in turn allows you to free and recruit Ignus the mage from the Smouldering Corpse. Go to the Civic Festhall to become a sensate. Sleep in the chambers and get your key. Unlock your chamber, force open the cupboard and take the dodecahedron and anything else you want. Next, move on to the brothel.
In the first room on your left you'll find Finam's book. Take it to Finam's house and ask him about the dodecahedron and notes of language on it. Read the notes, then all of the dodecahedron. Fetch your legacy so you can get a receipt for the Great Foundry. First go and buy some exotic items from the Curiosity Shoppe -fiend's tongue, deva's tears, and chocolate quasit. Go back to the brothel and speak to Ecco. Ask why she can't speak and when given a quest to help her, give her the fiend's tongue and then the deva's tears.
Take the chocolate quasit to Quell, who's a mage in the private sensorium (ask Splinter how to get there), and ask him about Ravel. He tells you to seek someone at the brothel. Speak to Ecco and she tells you Ravel has a daughter in the brothel. Speak to the other whores about her and eventually you'll find the truth, as well as the chance to recruit Fall-from-Grace, a priestess, into your party.
Ask the daughter for a blood sample in a handkerchief. Now you are ready for the Great Foundry. Go back to the Lower Ward. To the north is a locked gate. Speak to the guard, give him your receipt and enter the Great Foundry.
Now do the murder enquiry quest (speak to Alissa Held about it). Now speak to Thildon and Saros over and over until you get the truth, then report back to Keldor.
Then speak to Sandoz and try to dissuade him from suicide. Answer 1 -2-1-2-1-1-1, otherwise you won't convince him. Go back to Keldor and become a godsman. Buy any useful stuff from him, plus magical armour in the tailor in Clerk's Ward.
Next, prepare to seek out Ravel, but have lots of charms and gallons of blood clots. At the maze, make your way to the centre and speak to Ravel. After she's told you to seek out the deva for more information, ask her how to get out and then start arguing. Just don't end the conversation. Kill her and escape at the west end through the portal.
Now you're in Curst. You need to complete five quests (see Tainted Barse in the tavern) to put together a key. Go to the dump in the southwest corner of the first Curst map and go down the stairs. Watch for traps.
Voorsha will give you a quest to kill a gehreleth to the east and north. There are lots of trelons, too, but cloudkill is an effective spell if you're a mage. When you get back to Voorsha, he attacks you. That's gratitude.
Where you killed the gehreleth, you'll also find a hermit who lets you rest and buy cures. Head west and then, on the next map, head north and west, watching out for Curst guards, trelons and traps, until you open the gate and find the imprisoned deva. You must find his sword and free him - only then will he answer your questions.
Head north from Trias' chamber and then west. In the large hall, search the barrels carefully - there is cash and magic items. To the south lies the entrance to the prison, but it's full of Curst guards and you'll need to keep returning to the hermit to heal and rest. You need to kill them all because one has a bone key to unlock the gates.
There's another key in one of the cells that can be used to free Vhailor the Mercykiller. Follow the prison corridors round until you find the room named Celestial Fire. Trias' sword is in there, but you'll have to beat the guard at a contest of wits or speed or use the usual method - obliteration.
Return the sword to the deva and then head northeast to the portal, freeing Vhailor by unlocking the nearby door.
You're now in the Outlands. Head west, after finishing off the gronks and grilligs, to Fhjull Forked-Tongue's house where you can rest. Talk to Fhjull and find out about the portal to the Pillar of Skulls. Leave Fhjull and go east to the portal, which is in the body of the skeleton. Now you're in a very dangerous place called Baator.
All members of the party should be at least 10th level or above to survive here, preferably 14th or higher.
Exit via the southeast corner to the Pillar of Skulls, an oracle who will answer your questions. However, you need to offer a gift each time, so ask wisely, and consider detaching Morte before entering as the Pillar wants him handed over. Essential questions are how to get out and the location of the Fortress of Regrets. Return to Fhjull's house via a door in the southwest of the Baator map. Depending on how your conversation with the Pillar went, Fhjull will either help you or attack you, together with loads of dragons and lemures.
A portal in the skeleton's tail gets you back to Curst, but it's a very different Curst, one that's been laid to waste by Trias in an 'alternate universe'. There are several quests that will improve your chances when you finally confront and kill Trias. Rest in the barracks or distillery. Creatures re-spawn here, so you could theoretically go up several levels.
Trias is on the third floor of the Administration Building in the southwest comer. When you've dealt with him (after learning as much as possible), go northeast to the portal. You end up back in The Hive just outside the mortuary - a full circle. Heal, rest and visit all the traders in the area to stock up. You need all the healing items you can get as well as charms to protect you against magic attacks. Sell everything except what you'll need.
Give the Nameless One everything because he'll be on his own soon. Now enter the mortuary and head northeast to the portal. Talk to your party a bit and go through.
Fortress Of Regrets
Talk to Deionarra first and then look for the four machines that will switch on yet another portal in the northeast.
Inside the Trial of Impulse, you have to defeat either Ignus or Vhailor, but there are lots of power-ups and charms around.
In the Maze of Reflections, try to get the three incarnations to merge with you. Don't let the practical incarnation absorb you -destroy him if necessary. The good one will join, but if you don't speak the language of the dodecahedron, you'll have to despatch the paranoid one too. The final showdown comes when you face the Transcendent One, but there are several ways you can win, from threatening to end your life with the Blade of the Immortal (a quest from Coaxmetal in the Lower Ward) to battering it to death. The options available depend on your intelligence, wisdom and charisma. Having Pharod's Bronze sphere will help.
At least at the end you'll have a name, if nothing else.
The only way you'll get strong enough to complete the game is to finish quests and defeat monsters
Nameless One starts as a fighter but he can become a mage or a thief fairly early on (Ragpicker's Square). To switch between mage and fighter, just talk to Dak'kon or, later on, Annah, if you've taken the thief route. All three have strengths and weaknesses. Fighters are best early in the game, but mages quickly overtake them. At 9th level, when they gain 5th level spells, such as cloudkill, they can dispense more damage to more enemies. Thieves have little to recommend them.
If you particularly want Nameless One to improve quickly, consider booting out other party members before you 'collect' your experience at the end of a quest, then ask them to rejoin. Just don't do it too often or the others will end up weak.
Some quests can be repeated again and again (at least they can until the patch is released) - for example, at the Ravel sensory stone in the Civic Festhall, just keep returning and continue to answer the questions, you get 6000 xp every time. Also, things like cranium rats and abishai re-spawn, so just keep on killing them.
Use containers and chests to offload gear you don't expect to need, like spare or apparently useless weapons, rags, books, paper and so on. If you discover you need something later, it'll still be there.
Processor: PC compatible, P-100
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode