I woke up this morning excited and happy. Today is the day that the greatest RPG of all time, Planescape: Torment, finally gets a Kickstarter attempt at becoming its true successor. I barely read over the Kickstarter and didn’t even bother to press play on the video before going straight to giving inXile more of my money. I’ve followed the game closely enough as little bits and pieces of information came out about what they wanted to do with it, and whether my blind faith will find justification remains to be seen, but my hopes are still riding a complete high.
The key thing about Planescape: Torment’s greatness beyond the completely unique setting and the reliance on metaphysics and philosopher to tell a story with some real meaning, always lay in the games focus on one single individual and the incredible waves that came from multiple lifetimes of choices. Unlike other fantasy games that often task you with fixing a global problem, Planescape was a deep and insightful look at you had become that problem that needed to be fixed. After enduring many lives of torment and inflicting nearly as much pain on others around you as you had received in your own many lives, The Nameless One learned exactly what could change the nature of a man.
Only, the game wasn’t some ham-fisted attempt to throw deep introspection and philosophical insight into your face. It was still a game, and, aside from combat, it was fun and great just like any other solid RPG of its day. It never beat you over the head with any morals and didn’t really try to exploit ‘good’ and ‘evil’ as cosmetic differences or as a grade of ‘how much of an asshole you want to be’ like Bioware games currently do. It gave you a world with a rich and distinct history, a character who was more mystery than cookie cutter hero, and drew you in like strong tides. Planescape: Torment was simply brilliant.
The spiritual successor that inXile has planned for their Kickstarter lacks the Planescape setting, but that’s about it. Much of the brain trust behind the original game are here again, ready to create a new world not bound by Dungeons & Dragons rules and fiction. I couldn’t be more excited. I fully believe that even if they don’t come up with a true sequel worthy of the name, the merits of what they will create will be worth any price you invest. Even rarer than the Western-style RPGs of classic PC gaming are games with heart and soul that try to create worlds with great story-telling. Instead of being tasked for the millionth time to save the world, we’ll get another game that only asks for you to save yourself. That alone, as fresh as it was when Planescape first came out, is still just as fresh today.
I strongly suggest you read over the Torment Kickstarter and consider giving them your money.
In other news, however, things aren’t as happy. Project Awakening, the superhero sandbox action game from a bunch of former Midway employees at Phosphor Games, has failed to garner enough funding. If you have missed my previews or my interview, you might not know that I was very excited for the project. Where so many popular games today aim for being eight to ten hour campaigns worthy of one rental, Project Awakening aimed to be much more. The level of customization and the ability to extensively mod the games assets would have, I believe, made it a completely unique and excellent addition to any Steam library.
I know from their Kickstarter and several interviews I have read that the team at Phosphor were particularly passionate about this project. It was in its own way a spiritual successor to another title that didn’t get funded due to Midway’s bankruptcy and shutdown. It’s natural as a human being to have dreams. Often, we spend hours and hours of our lives, much of sweat and effort, and most of our passion pursuing those dreams. When they fall apart, we can always hope for new doors to open, so that the pursuit of that dream is never stopped until it is realized. Project Awakening looked to be a promising dream, and I hope that this bump in the road is not the last we see of it.
It may not be the same as losing a loved one, but an unsuccessful Kickstarter probably hurts in similar ways. I already sent their Twitter my condolences for their loss. If you would like to do the same, you can find their page at Phosphor Games.