In case you didn’t know, my personal favorite WRPG of all time (which includes pre-time, post-time, and any alternative dimensions without time) is what should be everyone’s personal favorite WRPG of all time – none other than Planescape: Torment. I’ve only written two (bad) articles about the game in my oh-so-brief history of blogging, but rest assured that this opinion is a long-held one. Even in a fairly recent job interview, when I mentioned that one of my hobbies was gaming, I was asked, “which is your favorite and why?” It didn’t help me land a AT&T sales job, but damn did I provide a stirring defense of the merits of Planescape: Torment to someone who is probably lucky to play Madden every other week.
Given the recent news that a true spiritual successor (which was punned so poorly in this post’s title in case I wasn’t embarrassed enough the first time you rolled your eyes) is on the way from Brian Fargo and his inXile team. Sadly, it’ll be a while. But not sadly, it is sounding pretty awesome even without the Planescape license attached.
Here’s a roundup of recent articles revealing news of unofficial Planescape 2:
Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Post-Planescape: Fargo Reveals The Future Of Torment
The wheels for the Torment game have been in motion for quite some time. The more we explored the Numenera setting, the clearer it became that it’s a natural fit for a Torment game. And it isn’t too surprising that Numenera’s aesthetics work well for Torment given that Monte was a key designer for the Planescape setting.
Numenera is a successfully Kickstarted pen-and-paper game and setting, that I looked at seriously, but didn’t back because I am anti-social and have no pen-and-paper friends of which to play with. I thought it looked awesome at the time, and I do agree that it could very well be a way to capture the greater narrative glory of Planescape. Even at the time when I played Planescape, I was not a D&D fan or a pen-and-paper person. All of my knowledge of the Planescape setting came from Planescape itself, and anything I ever knew about D&D came from playing classic PC RPGs like Planescape, Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, etc. While I loved the setting, there was nothing about it specifically that I loved as much as its narrative and emotional depth, shifting from dark comedy to deep philosophical commentary, or its focus on ideas being idealized or thoughts become physical. The Planescape world was a thought-provoking exploration of themes not often explored so directly, and especially not often explored so directly in a video game.
We know it hasn’t been done often in the game industry, but we’re envisioning Torment as a thematic franchise with certain themes that can expand over different settings and stories. We will focus on the same things that made people appreciate PST so much: overturning RPG tropes; a fantastic, unconventional setting; memorable companions; deep thematic exploration of the human condition; heavy reactivity (i.e., choice and consequences); an intensely personal (rather than epic) story.
Brian nails it here. For all the potential ire and hate and unease over making a sequel to Planescape without the Planescape, it was always the characters and the ideas that made the game. The word ‘torment’ may have only been half the title, but it was explored more meaningfully and more deeply throughout the entire story of Planescape: Torment than the Planescape setting ever was.
Certainly if I could not get BG3 or Wasteland 2 going then the prospects for a more niche oriented RPG like Torment were less than bleak. Let us all thank crowd funding once again for giving us these opportunities.
This is in essence why I was so immediately taken in by Kickstarter, and why I have loved it ever since that first backing despite (thus far) reaping little reward. Frankly, Kickstarter gives hope for truly meaningful and powerful games to exist. Yes, we had amazing indie titles that have explored just as meaningful themes as Planescape: Torment before and independent of Kickstarter. But isn’t it great to have options now? Or to have games with the budgets they honestly deserve?
Recently, Brian Fargo tweeted:
And that’s really the crux of why I have so much more faith in a Planescape sequel being a true successor to its progenitor. (Also, he retweeted me. I am new to Twitter still, so maybe that isn’t a big deal, but I had a huge smile on my face and extra spring in my step for the rest of the day. Brian Fargo may not be a famous celebrity, but he is a personal hero for his amazing work and dedication in a medium that I love as much as literature, movies, and music.)
At the end of the day, damn it feels good to be a Planescape fan.