[I originally wrote this for the relaunch issue of PC Gamer, when they were introducing their extra-life section. The Long Play features are basically a critical essay, looking at a game a few years on and noting why it still matters. Anyway, this is my look over Black Isle's genuinely seminal RPG. A few years old, every word then remains true now - and I sincerely doubt we'll ever see its like again. Obviously enough, there's some fairly heavy spoilers in here. Re-reading, it reminds me that I should do something bigger than this on the old warhorse. I've got Chris Avellone's e-mail around here, somewhere...]
Ignored by the gaming press upon release, only receiving warmish reviews that stopped well short of open adulation and the victim of one of the most ill-judged marketing campaigns (“A corpse with irresistible sexual charisma”) in history, Planescape Torment is the classic Underdog. Inevitably, it became the (relatively speaking) commercial runt of the Baldur’s Gate litter. In the years since, the coin of its critical worth has accumulated to the point where aficionados regularly cite it as the greatest of the PC RPGs. In fact, it’s rehabilitation has gone too far, with its name being a simple byword for narrative excellence without anyone really feeling the need to say why. There’s more here than dogmatic romantic myth.
Read the rest of this entry »