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Concerning the writing

Posted: March 8th, 2017, 6:58 am
by MiloGawain
Hey there!

First of all I want to thank inXile for making this game. I don’t regret supporting it on kickstarter and I love the fact that you can solve most of the game without fighting! THANK YOU!

Nonetheless I think that Torment has some major problems and I’d like to talk about some of them. Since many of the game’s problems have already been discussed (e.g. combat, graphics and cut content) I want to focus on the writing. SPOILERS ahead. Here we go:

The world
  • - There are no rules and no explanations. The Ninth World is mysterious, the Tides are mysterious, everything is mysterious. In the beginning this sense of mystery made me curious, but after about six hours it just felt random and boring. Now that I’ve finished the game I still don’t know what the tides really are, nor what “abusing the tides” really means.
    - The inhabitants of the Ninth World are supposed to be strange, right? So, why are there so many cliché madmen? It felt to me like 50% of the games NPCs are either talking to people who aren’t really there or constantly chuckling/laughing. They sure look odd, though…
The language
  • - There are tons of filler text. It’s very interesting to compare the way Rhin is written with the rest of the game. Rothfuss uses almost no description, and when he does, it’s short. Instead he uses dialogue and some facial expressions to show Rhin’s personality.
    - The style is okay. There are some flaws (e.g. too many adjectives) and some bad passages but generally speaking it’s okay. After all Torment’s just a game, not literature.
    - Btw: I couldn’t bear the german translation. It’s a complete mess (typos, wrong words, stupid sentence structure). But that’s not inXile’s fault, of course.
The companions
  • - Some of them are well-written (e.g. Erritis and Rhin), some are not. But why are there only human characters? And why do they comment on your actions so rarely? And why can you summon them like they’re nothing but interchangeable ghosts?
    - A technical issue that’s also a narrative one: Most companions are actually three companions. Because the picture, the model and the voice don’t fit together at all! What am I supposed to identify with?
    - Strange party interaction: You can ask companion A about his opinion on B, while B is standing next to you?! And B is (most of the time) totally cool with that? Sorry, but that’s ridiculous.
The main story
  • - The Sorrow. In the end the giant thing that tries to stop you is… well… a giant thing that tries to stop you? Wow. What a revelation! It feels like the sorrow was just added to provide urgency or tension. But that doesn’t work. Because you have to be able to beat the game without fighting and that leads to various anticlimactic situations. For example: When the Sorrow attacks the Memoriva, I simply didn’t do anything. I just walked around the resonance chamber and ended my turns afterwards. In the meantime, the First Castoff and his allies fought the Sorrow. So dramatic!
    - The Changing God. Is the bad guy. But wait! There are no simple categories like good and bad in Torment, right? So… let’s see… He’s a grieving father! That’s it! Now he’s a complex character.
    - The First Castoff. Has a nice little revelation. Does nothing interesting afterwards.
    - Not a single villain-like character works. But what about the main character? Well, he’s a castoff. And Castoffs are… like every other character in the game! Yes, they can use the tides (whatever that means) and that’s evil (somehow). But in the end “using the tides” is just another word for some kind of psychological magic. And in the Ninth World magic is just another word for science we don’t understand. And since every NPC in the game uses psycho-science-magic Castoffs are super special! *sigh*
In summary: The protagonist doesn’t work, the villains don’t work and there are almost no surprising twists or revelation. It really makes me sad that the main story is such a letdown. I don’t care much about combat, graphics or sound. But I was really hoping for a well-written story.

That said, thank you again for making an unusual, experimental game. That’s awesome and brave and I’m glad you took that risk!

Cheers!

P.S.: Sorry for any grammatical mistakes. I’m from Germany and I haven’t written an english text for years.

Re: Concerning the writing

Posted: March 9th, 2017, 5:25 am
by otokage
Agree with most you say. The game is certainly not at the level of most popular CRPGs, and calling it "torment" was a tremendous mistake as Im confident no torment fan will say this game is close to the first torment, let alone better.

The writing is too tedious because of the length and the medium-quality, but also because frankly most of the dialogue is pretty uninteresting, and so you are better of skipping the first answer and using the "tell me that again" option that will generaly repeat the answer in a concise and overall better way.

Leaving comparisons with first Torment aside, I liked the plot and context, I found it interesting and it kept me hooked until the end, but I agree it is not very dramatic given that there are little to no twists and no great revelations in the end (no explanations on the tides, the sorrow, etc). The villain/changing god could be more present indeed. We never get to know him in depth besides his cliché trauma with his daughter, and apparently he is a genious but he did absolutly nothing to stop you besides one try to assault you in the mind labyrinth, which really compromised his image as a mastermind.

The setting of Numenera is certainly interesting by itself, but sadly the developers didnt quite know how to take advantage of this, and ended populating the world with a lot of half-crazy, mostly uninterestinf, NPCs.

The party members I did like, especialy Callistege, but also Erritis, Rhin and Matkina. I felt more connected to them than to the characters of other recent titles (PoE, Tyranny).

In summary, this game is entertaining and I would give it a 7/10, which is indeed low for a CRPG.

Re: Concerning the writing

Posted: March 12th, 2017, 3:09 am
by Varana
There's a reason why the Changing God is conspicuously absent from the game.

I very much agree on the topic of the Tides.
Clarke's Third Law (sufficiently advanced technology equals magic) is the point of the Numenéra setting, so I'm not bothered that 90% of what you find has no real explanation. But the Tides are not that. They're hinted at being not-tech, that they're some mystical force underlying the whole world, that they're actual magic. That's ... jarring to me. (They're an invention for the video game; they're not a thing in the PnP game.) And it certainly doesn't help that the game is frustratingly vague on what they are and what they do. In the end, you have no idea why creating Castoffs has anything to do with Tides, and why simply existing as a Castoff is such a bad thing. And even with Tidal Surge, while it may come across as manipulating others against their will, you can mind rape all you like in other ways without having a giant hooded squid monster hunting you.

Re: Concerning the writing

Posted: March 13th, 2017, 1:43 am
by eNTi
The reasons The Changing God isn't really part of the game is because you are playing out / meeting various parts of stages of selves which are represented by the castoffs. You only ever meet him in your own mind, no? Actually I'm still not convinced The Labyrinth is the only area in your mind. It's actually probably your subconsious while THE REST of Numenera is also just playing out in your head. Albeit on a surface level. There is nothing actually "real" in a sense that anything is grounded in a concrete game world reality (which of course depends on your definition of reality). I think cook actually wanted to be clever and make the setting just one huge trip into the psyche of one "man".

As for the quality of the writing ... it's mixed and I found myself clicking through a lot of it. Muuuuuch too verbose.

The title actually reveals a lot: The game tells you that it's actually a torment to find out what the tides in Numenera mean. :P
I think they represent episodes of extreme mental stress and that's why they are damaging the world (the psyche of the "man" this setting is based in). The Tides are waves of reason that tear asunder the mental construct and thus somehow represent some kind of change within that one's brain structure.
Often times when you learn something new you need make your brain "soft" so that the connections between the neurons can be broken appart and form new connections. People somtimes encounter situations which shake their very believes of reality. Since the brain itself doesn't like to lose any sense of self it protects itself which creates the well known phenomena of cognitive dissonance. Powering through such episodes needs a lot of focus and discipline. I think The Tides represent that form of discipline...

...or this could all just be as much contrieved bullshit as most of the story is. :D

Re: Concerning the writing

Posted: March 14th, 2017, 1:05 am
by Romanfiend
eNTi wrote: As for the quality of the writing ... it's mixed and I found myself clicking through a lot of it. Muuuuuch too verbose.

The title actually reveals a lot: The game tells you that it's actually a torment to find out what the tides in Numenera mean. :P


...or this could all just be as much contrieved bullshit as most of the story is. :D

Oh Ha! I finally get the Torment part of this game! Because it is a Torment to play it - especially after having backed it and patiently waited for it!

So funny InXile!! The Joke is on us!!

Seriously I can't take more than 10 minutes of this writing before I give up and retreat to the nearest couch with a good book and my dog. I just can't NOT see the bad writing and the endless exposition - my eyes just glaze over.

Re: Concerning the writing

Posted: March 14th, 2017, 5:33 am
by anonymous6059
Romanfiend wrote:
eNTi wrote: As for the quality of the writing ... it's mixed and I found myself clicking through a lot of it. Muuuuuch too verbose.

The title actually reveals a lot: The game tells you that it's actually a torment to find out what the tides in Numenera mean. :P


...or this could all just be as much contrieved bullshit as most of the story is. :D

Oh Ha! I finally get the Torment part of this game! Because it is a Torment to play it - especially after having backed it and patiently waited for it!

So funny InXile!! The Joke is on us!!

Seriously I can't take more than 10 minutes of this writing before I give up and retreat to the nearest couch with a good book and my dog. I just can't NOT see the bad writing and the endless exposition - my eyes just glaze over.

I've read every single word possible in a single playthrough. I expended every dialogue option [including scans thoughts, perception, all the lore options], read every item description, and all companion dialogue for the group I had. Let me just tell you to chug lots and lots of coffee before playing because this game is boring. I actually feel like Inxile should have paid me to endure that level of torment. After each session I did the exact same thing, flee to my recliner and clutch on to a good book for dear life. I really wanted to believe that this game would pay off if I just kept paying attention. I was wrong.

Re: Concerning the writing

Posted: March 15th, 2017, 2:51 am
by MiloGawain
What bothers me most is that InXile promised a „deep thematically satisfying story“ and a „rich, personal narrative“. But i didn't find any of that. Admittetly, there is some depth ocasionally (companions, sidequests), but that doesn't make the story a deep one. For example, the narrative structure is almost Marvel-like and doesn't reflect the theme at all. You set out to find a MacGuffin (a glowing crystal...) to stop the bad guy from destroying the world. Sure, the Sorrow doesn't actually want to destroy the world, but it wants to kill the castoffs. The only problem is that there are „maybe even millions of castoffs“. And if you don't stop the Sorrow, „madness will spread all over the world“. So i think it's fair to say that you have to save the world again. So that's what a „rich, personal narrative“ looks like? Seriously?
Additionally, there are eight (!) strechgoals that are supposed to „increase reactivity and depth“. And in the end you get a completely linear and forseeable mainquest? And okayish companions?