Thursday, May 9, 2013

Planescape Torment

Ask most gamers what the best computer roleplaying game of all time is, and you'll probably get a variety of answers. But for those who have played it, the answer that you'll hear come up again and again is Planescape Torment. This is not your typical RPG with elves, dwarves, knights with swords, and fair damsels in need of rescue. Instead, it is the story of a single figure, known only as the Nameless One, who wakes up on a mortuary slab with no memory of who or what he is. Aided by a sentient floating skull with a penchant for wisecracks, they must travel the multiverse to discover the truth about the protagonist: who he is, what is his true nature, and why he cannot die.

That last  part is probably the most interesting feature of the game. In almost any other game like this, when your main character dies, it's game over. Instead, in Planescape Torment, you merely wake back up on that same mortuary slab and head back out into the world to resume your mission.

In addition to the sentient skull Morte, the Nameless One is joined by an amazingly diverse cast of characters: Annah-of-the-Shadows, a young and brash tiefling rogue; Dak'kon, a githzerai, who once made an oath to follow The Nameless One that bound him eternally;  Ignus, a pyromaniacal mage who was the apprentice of one of The Nameless One's past selves; Nordom, a modron disconnected from its species' hive mind; Fall-From-Grace, a succubus who acts as proprietress of a brothel in Sigil; and Vhailor, an animated suit of armor dedicated to serving merciless justice.

The game achieved widespread critical acclaim, and even won an impressive number of awards. Yet despite this, it earned only a small profit, and thus was not considered a major commercial success.

I recently came across this game as I was packing up for our upcoming move, and remembered that I had never completed it. Now, this game was released way back in 1997; I figured there was no way that I would be able to get it working on a modern computer. And even if I did, one of the few shortcomings of the game was its forced 640x480 resolution, which is absolutely terrible by today's standards. Fortunately for me, a little Google searching turned up some great resources.

By consulting this blog, I learned that a great deal of work had been done to not only correct some longstanding minor bugs and issues with the game that were never addressed, but also to create a program that would mod the graphics and UI to work on almost any resolution, including widescreen. In addition, a great deal of extra content had been restored from the original game that lay dormant and unused in the original code. I followed the step-by-step instructions, and within a short time, I was playing the game again - and it had never looked better!

So if you're a fan of RPG video games and have never played this, you truly have missed out on one of the best games in the genre. Find yourself a copy - on Ebay, on Amazon, or from, follow the instructions provided above, and treat yourself to an experience unlike any other. You won't regret it.

Have you ever played this great game? What did you think? Does it live up to the glowing review I gave it? Let me know. See you next time.

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