Planescape: Torment was released almost twenty years ago and while it may not have been wildly successful in terms of its sales, it did go on to not only win over the hearts of critics that year but it also went on to become a cult classic and find a home in the hearts of RPG lovers even years after its release. It was developed by Black Isle Studios and if that doesn’t sound familiar then we may have a falling out. I’m just kidding. That was just a joke that wasn’t even funny. Black Isle Studios is known most for developing the first two Fallout games and of course creating the video game franchise but in my heart, their best game will always be Planescape: Torment. It’s aged pretty well over the years considering the kind of game it is but technology has progressed a lot and so Beamdog set out to help modernize this classic title so that it’s easier to get the most enjoyment out of it on modern devices. There may not have been too many changes but with a game this great, it’s hardly necessary.
There have been a lot of great games released over the years but many of these games sell incredibly well and receive recognition at release. Planescape: Torment certainly had its fair share of fans but I don’t think it’ll ever receive the amount of love that it truly deserves outside the industry of developers and critics. In the end, though the industry was shaped, influenced, and touched by a truly special game made by people who completely love not only the RPG genre but video games in general. Planescape: Torment features an incredible story with surreal characters, interesting dialogue, and an experience that most games can only attempt to replicate. The original version is still quite special. After all gameplay and the design itself are what truly drive a game forward, create the rush of fun, and help keep a game relevant years after its release but that doesn’t mean that games don’t age. Try telling someone new to games how special the original Metroid or The Legend of Zelda are and you’ll likely be met with many who appreciate the games but dare not actually play or replay them so many years after their original release. Planescape: Torment still possesses great gameplay, characters, and mechanics years after its release but it’s been a pain to run with modern technology with the many things we’ve grown so accustomed to as technology has progressed and improved over the years. Sure GOG has helped a lot in this department but having a game run without too many hiccups and having a game run optimized with native widescreen support and other improvements we have in modern gaming are different things entirely. It’s things like this that prompted Beamdog to take a look to see what they could to help bring Planescape: Torment into the modern realm.
Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition‘s goal wasn’t to drastically change too many things. Instead, Beamdog sought to retain the original experience while adding a few things and improving it where they could without sacrificing what made it so special. The original classic featured a wonderful and original story where the player controls ‘The Nameless One.’ You may not know who you are or what your purpose but you’ll go on a special journey that goes so much farther than killing enemies and gaining experience. You’ll learn more about your character while also learning more about yourself and who you are as a person. In fact, even from a gameplay perspective Planescape separates itself from many of its contemporaries and even modern RPGs; it’s extremely story driven and combat isn’t always the answer. Combat is a part of the game but many, many times dialogue and interaction with the various characters of the world can resolve a conflict or move the plot forward. If that sounds familiar to Fallout then just remind yourself that the same peeps who helped create that endearing franchise first created this masterpiece. It’s a very strange and surreal world that borders on realistic while also feeling completely fictional. The characters and the world will behave in an almost real manner but the surreal and strange absolutely overpower everything, which makes it that much more magical for those exploring this realm for the first time or the twentieth time.
At the beginning of the game, you’ll be awakening from death in a morgue of sorts with your floating skull companion who joins you on your journey. The atmosphere is haunting and uninviting but you have no choice but to explore and learn why you’re there and how to get out since you’re clearly not dead. Or at least it doesn’t seem like it. As you progress, you’ll learn more and more about your surroundings and yourself. This is how much of the game will play it. It’s a deep and immersive experience and despite the surreal tone and fantasy setting, you’ll find yourself quite lost within the marvel of everything and how intricately it’s all woven together. As you level up, collect items, and dive deeper into the story you’ll meet more and more interesting characters and learn more about the world and your surroundings. The combat is satisfying but the dialogue and interactions between you and the characters are even more interesting. This may initially repel some but trust me, combat is an option in many situations but as you talk to characters and learn about them you’ll discover alternative means to conflict resolution that will prove more desirable as you become more invested in everything. Everything controls great and if something feels off all you have to do is jump into the options and tweak it as there are many different settings available for you to choose from. The game itself won’t be changed too much but your experience will improve as you mold it to your liking, which is, of course, the entire purpose of this remastered enhanced edition, to morph and mold a twenty-year-old game into a more desirable package and presentation to play better and smoother in its visuals, presentation, controls, and interface.
The graphics and gameplay may feel old but everything behaves well within its constraints and as long as you don’t mind taking a stroll through what RPGs were like almost twenty years ago, you’ll really be able to take it all in and get lost in this thirty to fifty-hour journey. There’s a lot to experience here and while the story and the world are impressive and interesting the real star of Planescape: Torment is its inhabitants. The characters, their dialogue, and your interactions with them are where this game shines at its brightest. Don’t get me wrong, the story and the world in which everything takes place are breathtaking and marvellous but the characters just take it to a whole new level. You’ll experience so much on this journey and with many of the characters you meet as long as you’re willing to take a deep breath, relax, set aside the time, and just invest in the world and characters. This game may be available on mobile but I wouldn’t recommend it for a second, especially to newcomers. Sit down, turn down the lights, clear your schedule and just play this in four-hour blocks. It won’t be long until you’re not only invested in this experience but also just lost in the middle of everything in a way that only the greatest games can attest to.
The story is one that needs to be experienced. Reading about it or watching a Let’s Play simply doesn’t do it justice. Planescape: Torment is like The Beatles in that it needs to be experienced first hand in its entirety to be truly understood and appreciated. And there’s never been a better time to bask in the glory of this incredible RPG because of the many improvements of the enhanced edition that Beamdog has brought with this much-needed release. Chris Avellone was the lead designer of the original release and he helped bring bug fixes and many other improvements to the enhanced edition but the major goal was to of course help the original vision be realized in this time and age. This includes a cleaned up interface, 4K support, remastered music, and many new options that help tweak this experience to make it as classic or as modern as you’d like. People have been modding Planescape: Torment for years but all of the changes in the enhanced edition are better than all of the mods out there, official, and readily available for a low price of only twenty bucks. The game itself is the same though so if you aren’t able to stomach older textures or game design that features some age then this release changes nothing. I do need to emphasize to you though that within thirty minutes of tuning out distractions, some good headphones, and patience you’ll likely be a believer in the beauty and grace of Planescape: Torment. You’ll really appreciate not only the game itself but also the influence it has had on the industry and the genre it hails from as well. Clear your schedule, give it a chance, and sink a few hours here and there into it and you’ll be singing as many praises as I am for it, if not then possibly even more!
A review copy of Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition was provided by Beamdog for the purposes of this review.
Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition
- A long and winding journey with both interesting party members and characters you'll interact with
- Charming visuals that will tug at your heart despite their age
- Details at every corner, from character development to the many different locations you'll go to help make this a experience every RPG fan needs to have
- Incredible music that helps build unforgettable atmosphere
- Countless updates and tweaks help bring this timeless gem into the modern age while still wearing that age on its sleeve proudly
- Some aspects of the design have definitely aged but it wears it proudly on its sleeve
- The gameplay itself is unchanged and the age may be an issue for some