1,315 people found this review helpful
20 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 18.6 hrs on record
Posted: Feb 28, 2017 @ 5:47pm

I was very excited for this game when the kickstarter was announced (4 years ago!!!) and backed it for $250 dollars. I have been playing isometric crpgs since the 90s, and have always loved games like Baldur's Gate 1&2, Icewind Dale 1&2, and of course Planescape: Torment, the game that originally inspired this one.

This review is both a commentary on the game itself, as well as inExile as a company. First, to inExile - you can skip a few paragraphs below if you're just interested in the game. In 2013, inExile was happy to take backers money to make this game, and slated the delivery for T:ToN in December of 2014. They made about four times as much money as they set their funding goal at, and as stretch goals made many promises about added content to their backers. Ultimately, it seems that many of those promises have not been kept, which is disappointing, but forgivable if the game is well-made at the end of that process and the company is communicative with the people who helped to fund the project.

However, after the kickstarter funded and pledges from people like me were locked in, inExile announced that they were changing the combat system from Real-time-with-pause (RTwP) to Turn-based (TB) mechanics. They announced that this was to better fit the mood of the game. That claim is very dubious, as the 90s game that they are basing this sequel off of (Planescape: Torment) has a RTwP combat system. "What can change the nature of a game?" Well, an obvious answer would be to change one of the fundamental mechanics of the game. Personally, I would never have donated money to inExile for Torment had I known they were planning to make a TB game.

But why would inExile make such a fundamental change for a fan-funded game that so many people felt so passionately about? At first, this was not obvious, and it really wasn't until the game was coming close to release that I really understood. From a business standpoint, RTwP combat-based games have one major issue. They require a mouse and keyboard, and are therefore mostly a PC-friendly market. TB games, on the other hand, are easily adaptable to controller-based game play and have a wider distribution on consoles. Since inExile is releasing XBox ONE and PS4 adaptations of this game, it is fair to say that they chose to screw their fan-funders for a market friendly combat system.

Adaptations to new systems cost money, and so it is even more frustrating to find that inExile has cut a massive amount of content from this game that was promised during the fund-raising phase on kickstarter. Over a four year development cycle, they made no announcements to their backers about cut content, even though it is now clear that they spent a lot of that money that was supposed to be used to create that content on console ports, and actually only let backers know that anything had changed in the game about a month before the game released. The cut content included promised characters, an entire city, and while I personally have not finished it, reports indicate that the game is relatively short for a crpg. During that time without communication to their fans about the dropped content, inExile raised millions of dollars from two other crowd-funded projects - Bard's Tale IV and Wasteland 3. In addition to cuts from the game, inExile also gave a worse deal to fans who purchased a collectors edition during the kickstarter than those who purchased it at release, and also cut a promised Italian localization in order to ship this game to consoles.

Game Review:

Story 9/10: This is where this game shines - it is well written and the interactions between objects/characters in the game is fascinating. In places it is badly in need of an editor, but after playing for about 5 hours, it is clear that the game story lives up to - but does not surpass - the game that it is trying to emulate. The protagonist is not as well characterized as the Nameless One from PS:T, which detracts from the immersion. The major focus of this game is to tell a unique, strange story in as much depth as it can, and it succeeds in keeping your interest. If you like to read, 95% of the game play is reading text in the vein of a choose your own adventure novel. Well done here.

Graphics/Interface 5/10: There is no way to change how fast the interface moves with a mouse scroll - presumably because the game has been adapted for console-controller play. This is inexcusable, as the game is run on the Pillars of Eternity engine, a game that was released in 2015, and that game had the option to adjust the mouse scroll. The 2D backgrounds are beautiful, the character models and animations are not. Character's momentum/inertia during movement is incredibly distracting, and the strange need for the camera to follow your character is very odd for this style of game. Altogether, these things add up to a very frustrating interface that slows the pace of the game down. For a game with a 4 year development cycle, it feels like I am playing an alpha build.

Combat 2/10: Even for a TB game, the combat mechanics are incredibly weak. Divinity OS, which I played for a very short amount of time, had an excellent TB system that used action points to define your movement and abilities. You could do anything in any order, so long as you had sufficient AP to perform the task. Torment uses a simplified mechanic where each character gets one movement and one action. When you choose an action, or move your character, there is no way to confirm it or take it back, so if you misclick, you are screwed. By modern standards, this is just pathetic. Additionally, in virtually every combat you will find yourself highly outnumbered, and this is the game's way of telling you that you should just settle everything with conversations. If you do find yourself in combat, you need to win on the first round, as the enemies will simply target your protagonist on their first available turn and kill him/her, sending you to the mind labyrinth. Additionally, because combat is fairly rare, you will most likely have no idea how to use your abilties to their full effect. This is incredibly disappointing, as the other crpg revival game that is currently on the market, Pillars of Eternity, has a very innovative RTwP combat system that is a true spiritual successor to other isometric RPG games. My other personal beef with TB-combat is that it is SOO SLOOOW!! RTwP battles can be finished in just a few minutes, even when the combat is challenging. TB always takes considerably more time, even for trivial battles. Torment is no exception to that rule.

Torment is not a bad game, but it doesn't feel like it is a finished game. It would be an excellent game if it had been released 20 years ago, but compared to all of the other crpg nostalgia releases that have come out over the past five years, it is one of the weaker ones. This is many due to clunky interface, and poor combat mechanics. I'm very disappointed that inExile chose to enhance their distribution instead of trying to stay true to what their fans wanted. This half-baked game is the result. I will not be supporting them in the future.
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Developer response:
sear  [developer] Posted: Mar 1, 2017 @ 2:28pm
Hi benzeneboy,

Thanks much for the feedback and review! I just wanted to take a moment to respond to a few of your points. We're gamers too and we certainly understand your passion and dedication!

1. When we launched the Kickstarter, we did not know what kind of combat system we would be building. Based on our community pools and feedback, more of our backers favored turn-based combat, which is what we went with, and messaged very clearly early in development.

A turn-based system allowed us to more easily hand-craft encounters that incorporated narrative elements, changing objectives, as well as complex elements such as environment interaction, conversations, and more that were simply not possible in a real-time setup. We felt this was the right choice for a Torment game, since they naturally tied into the story-driven focus of the game much more so than real-time combat did.

I can also assure you that consoles had nothing to do with our fundamental choice regarding the combat system. The game's content was pretty much finished by the time console development ever began. We are no strangers to seeing messages and sentiments from fans like "consoles are dumbing down our games!" but the reality with us is that we are RPG fans and hardcore gamers, and we just want to bring the best possible experience to as many players as we can.

2. Game development is an extremely iterative and creative process, and as developers, not all of our ideas end up working out for any of hundreds of different reasons. First and foremost, though, cut content does not mean that the game got smaller or "less good" - rather, we focused our resources on other aspects of development that made more sense, or changed or moved things around to better fit the game's overall vision.

Crowdfunding and open development reveals how games can change over time, and many the early Kickstarter claims ended up sounding much better on paper than reality. We absolutely understand that making changes to content after we've talked about it can be frustrating for fans, and we can always communicate changes and the reasons behind them better, but every decision we make is to ultimately benefit the game as a whole.

Once again, thanks for your insightful feedback, and I hope this sheds some light on some aspects of the game you feel strongly about!
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283 Comments
axewielder Dec 15, 2017 @ 12:01pm 
Thanx buddy!U saved me a lot of dissapoint.
Dryspace Mar 31, 2017 @ 12:53pm 
@shadydvl

Even though it is clear that the console is no longer what it was, I would not underestimate the willingness of Sony and Microsoft to keep it on life support for years...

...or at least until Microsoft succeeds in killing PC gaming as we know it with Windows 10.

PSA: PLEASE stay away from Windows 10.
shadydvl Mar 31, 2017 @ 12:17pm 
game designers and publishers chasing that greedy dream on consoles dont seem to have enough foresight to look at where the entire industry is headed.

i fully believe that consoles are in their final years. the future will be some sort of PC, console, home entertainment system with tons of flexibility. gone will be the days of console exclusives and stupid consoles that dont let you type a paper or put together a presentation even though they are actually computers... I dream.
Jerry Mar 31, 2017 @ 12:03pm 
Good response from the devs.
Dryspace Mar 31, 2017 @ 10:23am 
I am convinced that the death of the AAA PC market was not the result of necessity--of cold, hard facts--but as many have pointed out, greed. It was not a result of an inability to make a profit.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to make as much money as possible, as long as one is not subjugating everything else to that goal. Further, the PC and console differ fundamentally in both HW capability and market taste.

IMO, Crytek is a textbook lesson on greed. Despite the whining of Yerli about piracy (which has never been a problem in the U.S.), he made millions in profit from Far Cry and Crysis. But not COD millions. After retooling for console, both Crysis and his company became a dim and unremarkable reflection of their former glory.
PayPiggy - lvl37 Consumer Whore Mar 31, 2017 @ 6:19am 
For example, Stonekeep was originally supposed to be developed in just under a year, but then went to five years and many more zeros added to the cost of production ($50k USD -> $5M USD). The sequel was being worked on by Black Isle for another five years until its mercy killing in 2001 (cost...probably a hell of a lot more). This kind of "production creep" going several times beyond their estimates was what contributed to a lot of Interplay's debt, because there wasn't a good review process of internal development.

TL;DR: Interplay should have been acting like a publisher to itself instead of trying to push vapourware into success when it had long broken beyond its budget.

Sound familiar? Fargone, Fargone never changes...
PayPiggy - lvl37 Consumer Whore Mar 31, 2017 @ 6:13am 
Until Titus acquired majority control of Interplay, Fargone had the ultimate control of pretty much anything, including making the company public to try and hold off bankruptcy.

Torn, along with its abysmal delivery to the mocking of those it was ostensibly marketed towards, was one of such problem productions. It was being produced as a new IP when Interplay really needed to make what their fans wanted, fans expected, and distancing them by saying "Console is where money is at!" as a side excuse didn't really help with their brand image.

Instead...

Star Trek: Secret of Vulcan Fury
Descent to Undermountain
Torn
Stonekeep (and then 2...)
(An some more that I'm likely missing...)

All of which should have been put under HEAVY review when they had senior talent bail on them for obvious problems, but instead they were allowed to keep going on until they dug a hole that the rest of the titles couldn't float the company with.
Jamoid Mar 31, 2017 @ 5:42am 
It's difficult to know what things are really like behind closed doors but from my perspective most of inXile's, Interplay's and by extension Black Isle's problems can be traced in some way back to Brian Fargo. It could just be that he was the fall guy and the problems were far more complex, but this could also be the best thing possible for inXile. They have some real creative talent, but some terrible mismanagement.

Again - I could have it entirely wrong, but I have followed these guys for almost 20 years now and that's how it looks to me.
benzeneboy Mar 30, 2017 @ 11:07pm 
@Dryspace - Curious if you have seen this - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRXEAGWynGA

It's a good watch, even if you don't totally agree with it.
shadydvl Mar 30, 2017 @ 9:05pm 
@dryspace IGN? heh