Assignment #5: Game Review Review

Review: PC Gamer’s Review of Torment: Tides of Numenera

Chris Thursten does a good job in providing proper background information to the Torment series, as Tides is a spiritual successor to the popular CRPG Planescape: Torment, which released in the 90s. For those familiar with the genre, he name-drops other CRPGs, both new and old, to give context to to how Tides came to be and how it will hold up.

Thursten then dives into the setting of the game, how it differs from Planescape, and giving readers a view into the aesthetic of the game, using apt metaphors and references to invoke a particular mood. This general-purpose info about the setting segues into the player’s role as the Last Castoff, providing readers the goal of the game as well as what they expect to do once they start playing. Thursten goes into how the player’s choices affect the titular “Tides,” which affect other characters’ alignments with you, which form the main crux of this role-playing experience.

It is then that Thursten notes that Tides may be difficult and unfamiliar for those not used to CRPG conventions in the first few hours, he mentions having several rulebooks and campaigns that gave him an advantage in this aspect. However, he mentions that after a few hours after the the game mostly introduces the fascinating aspects of its new world, the player should be relatively fluent in the game’s mechanics. This is an important part of the review as it give readers a heads-up on their initial experiences with the game, which could make-or-break the experience for many. In this section, he mentions to players that this game has lots of reading and is a character-driven story, not for those who like to min-max item stats and equipment. He provides a good summary for those who would like this type of game, and how its core is different from similar games like Pillars of Eternity.

Thursten delves into the writing of the game and how it is a very strong point of the game, noting the several unique characters and followers you’ll meet, adding depth to the world. However, he criticizes some aspects of the art direction, saying that it doesn’t match-up to the ‘show don’t tell’ aspect many CRPGs aim for. There is also a note about PC performance, which is important, especially for this demographic, as PC players are arguably the biggest sticklers about a games’ performance on their machines. This reflects how the site keeps in target audience in mind when reviewing games.

Thursten ends the review with some negatives and personal dislikes, namely the occasional buggy pathfinding of followers, how RPG completionists may not find their cup of tea with this game, and the sparse yet drab voice acting for some characters. While he claims these are not deal-breakers, readers can judge how much they mind such issues and react accordingly. In addition, listing these negatives drives home the main point of what gamers would like in this game: those who love using their imagination to fill in the blanks and those who really enjoy role-playing their Last Castoff. He ends the review on a positive note, restating the strangeness of the game, yet still remains fond of the experience.

I believe this is a strong review due to the main emphasis Thursten puts on what types of gamers would enjoy this game, and what aspects of it set it apart from similar games in the same genre. This allows readers to judge whether they should purchase based on their personal preferences, using the information Thursten provides to form an opinion for themselves. While there is a number score attached to the game, this is more of a general guideline than a definitive number. A game could be more or less the sum of its parts, and I believe Thursten’s review (and other PC Gamer reviews), keep that notion as a focal point in their articles masterfully.

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