A Tides Of Numenera Beta Date For Backers & Steamfolk

We already knew that a beta for Torment: Tides of Gary Numan [official site], spiritual* sequel to Planescape: Torment was due this month, but now we have a date. Or, to be precise, dates. Another thing we already knew is that original Kickstarter backers of the inXile RPG would get their clammy crowdfunding paws on the beta, but now we know that it’ll update its journal to include Steam Early Access a wee bit later in January.

Jan 17th is the backer date, and Jan 26th the Steam one. Here’s exactly what will be included:

“The beta will start you right in the beginning of the game and is quite lengthy for an early beta. It covers the game’s introductory sequence (some of which you may have already seen in the alpha) as well as most of the first major location of the game, Sagus Cliffs. Sagus is a very old city that was built on top of ancient structures that predate the return of humanity to the Ninth World. It’s split into five main districts: Circus Minor, Cliff’s Edge, Caravanserai, Government Square and the Underbelly. As you might expect from a city location, it is rich in lore to discover, characters to talk with and obviously quests to complete.”

There’s also the above new screenshot, which does look reassuringly Planescape: Tormenty to my old eyes.

Quietly looking forwards to this one – it looks a whole lot more weird and twisted than Pillars of Eternity, but fingers crossed it isn’t just Wasteland 2 with a techno-magic skin. Seems unlikely, especially given the team assembled to work on it, but with WL2 proving solid but not revelatory I’m not going to go and presume greatness from it yet.

There are some more details on the places and items to be found in the beta here, plus some new piccies.

* ‘Spiritual’ of course means ‘we couldn’t or wouldn’t afford the license’ rather than anything metaphysical. HTH.


  1. Inspired Cup says:

    I hope it doesn’t have Xcom combat like Wasteland 2.

    • DrMcCoy says:

      It will have fully turn-based combat, if that’s what you mean.

    • RuySan says:

      Unlike Pillars of Eternity, Wasteland 2 had excellent combat, so I hope you’re wrong.

      • gun661 says:

        Unlike Wasteland 2 and Pillars of Eternity, developers of Baldur’s Gate and PS:T didn’t use their game design for nostalgia-related marketing or invoking petulant arguments about gameplay design principles. So I hope game devs just start following again what they feel is right for a great game – if they do indeed decide to make games – instead of following the priciples of marketing (baiting with the name of a classic game) and cost-efficiency (but then just rehashing the combat design of Wasteland 2).

  2. icdmize says:

    Who’s Gary Numan? As in “Torment: Tides of Gary Numan”?

    • Nereus says:

      Gary is just a man. A man who feels safest of all when in his car.

      Rumous has it his friends are electric.

  3. Blastaz says:

    I’m not sure what the point of playing the beta of a story based game is.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Well Besides of course all of the obvious reasons to be involved in a beta such as helping find bugs, it’s a bit like when authors release teaser chapters from upcoming novels. You know it’s going to spoil it a little bit but at the same time it’s only going to be a fragment, could even be rewritten. and likely outside of any context that would spoil the plot as a whole.

      See the Pillars of Eternity beta for example. Also, it’s an RPG, so it’s not entirely about the story, there are other mechanics besides the delivery of the story.

  4. Edgewise says:

    I haven’t looked too deeply into it, but I don’t get how ToN is supposed to be a “spiritual successor” to Planescape:Torment. Numenera (the tabletop RPG) has always struck me as an anodyne gamification of Gene Wolf’s Book of the New Sun. Planescape:Torment was a WotC property set in the D&D multiverse. They really don’t seem interchangeable to me, especially in terms of tone. Maybe I’m biased because I really didn’t like Numenera and I really do like BotNS, and since I haven’t looked too deeply into this, maybe I’m completely wrong. But it always struck me as strange.

    • teije says:

      Book of the New Sun would be a great setting. I like the first books the best, found the series got too rambling for my tastes later on.

      • Edgewise says:

        In theory, I would LOVE a good rendition of Book of the New Sun. But capturing the tone of Wolf’s masterpiece would be a huge challenge, especially when so much of that tone is conveyed through his highly stylized writing. I’ve stolen ideas from Wolf (for my own tabletop RPGs), but I am not so ambitious to think I could do justice to the entire work.

        For what it’s worth, Numenera’s introduction is pretty candid about its Book of the New Sun inspiration, so this isn’t just my interpretation.

    • soul4sale says:

      “Numenera (the tabletop RPG) has always struck me as an anodyne gamification of Gene Wolf’s Book of the New Sun.”

      What tone of voice do I read this in? So many choices…

      • Edgewise says:

        I can tell that you’re being sarcastic, but I have no idea why. Care to fill me in?

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      I’ve played the Alpha and it “feels” right to me. all I knew of AD&D before the first Torment was the high fantasy staples of the Forgotten Realms stuff. So the Planescape setting was new and strange: Different magic, different races, different weapons, and there were odd anachronistic aspects. The world itself had a sense of being built on top of something older, barely held together, and barely understood.

      The new Torment checks all these boxes so far. The occult element of the portals and the planes in Planescape:Torment is preserved in the nature of the Numenera themselves (the artifacts – of all sizes) in the new Torment. The original Torment felt as though it wasn’t allowing itself to be restricted by fantasy roleplaying tradition, and neither does the new Torment. Both games’ stories (from what I can tell so far) heavily feature the inward struggle of the PC, more so than a quest against a “big bad”. Isn’t this all in the same spitit?

      But if you can’t look past the mechanics of the roleplaying system, or whether the setting fits more in the fantasy box, or more in the sci-fi box, or whatever incompatibility between the two you’re presuming there to be, then I guess you won’t look at it this way. For me they’re re-kindling the old sense of mystery and weaving the old themes back together without just re-hashing the old story in a new setting or (god forbid) trying to do a direct sequel.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        Or think about it this way, Planescape:Torment was in terms of tone, setting, and thematic content totally unlike anything you would have reasonably expected from a D&D based CRPG at the time it came out. So there isn’t much point in using a comparison between Gene Wolfe and (for sake of argument lets say) R. A. Salvatore as an argument for why you can’t follow it with a Numenera set game. Especially since the original was written by Chris Avellone, and so is much of the new one. The other writers on the new game are people who were involved with him on Mask of the Betrayer which, lest we forget (and people too often do), already stands as a pretty strong spiritual successor to P:T!

      • Edgewise says:

        No, no, I never mentioned anything about game mechanics or even setting. I was talking almost entirely about tone. Forget about categories, I just feel like Planescape and Numenera have a very different “vibe.” But if, as Zekiel explained, the stories and play have a very similar feeling, then I can imagine the opportunity for some continuity.

        Still, in that sense, I can almost imagine someone calling Fallout4 a spiritual successor to Skyrim, but that would just be me being argumentative. The devil is in the details, which remain to be seen, and it’s not like it’s a big deal, anyway.

    • tomimt says:

      Torment never did follow D&D rules very closely. It benefitted the most from the setting of the Sigil, but as a game it didn’t really need D&D rules and to my understanding it was very liberal about that.

      The spiritual sequel really just means that the game is going to probe something deeper than your typical “look I’m a good guy and I’m gonna safe the world, okay.” fare.

    • Zekiel says:

      I felt like its spiritual successor credentials were pretty solid. A spiritual successor isn’t going to be set in the same world (that’d just be a sequel by my definition). But it sounds like the developers are aiming for the same things that they felt made PST beloved – unusual world, personal story of loss and pain, lots of writing, strong sense of being able to choose how you play, weird companions and NPCs etc etc. Everything I’ve seen of this game so far looks like its hitting those things. How it all comes together remains to be seen.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        Phew I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees it this way, was afraid I was fooling myself out of sheer desire for this to be the case. Of all the things you mention, I think the degree of control you have over how you play the game will be the clincher. And this must come down to more than just the differences between character classes.

      • Edgewise says:

        That’s a reasonable explanation. I guess we’ll see how it shakes out.

    • Deano2099 says:

      It’s a sequel on the “Torment” bit, rather than the “Planescape” bit. It can still hit the same thematic beats, even with a different setting and tone.

      If you squint a bit, KOTOR2 was basically “Star Wars: Torment”

    • vahnn says:

      Great discussion here, best reading I’ve had all morning.

    • trashmyego says:

      Monte Cook is one of the main connections, he was one of the main shepherds of the Planescape setting and is the creator of Numenera. Tie this long to other development team members who’ve worked on both games and the intent to replicate its expansive dialogue/reactive systems, along with other unique features, and you’ve got a spiritual successor. What made Bioshock the spiritual successor to System Shock? Can you explain that to me? I don’t see your issue, except that you’re unhappy that it’s not Planescape, which is for all intensive purposes a dead IP, purposefully being kept buried by the monsters at WoC.

  5. Matt_W says:

    I’m content to wait for the full release, even though I have access to the beta as a backer. It’s not even really a beta; it’s a demo. They talk about how it’s “quite lengthy for an early beta”, which is some creative marketing. Beta has traditionally meant content complete but slightly buggy or unpolished, though I know that definition has shifted to mean whatever it is that PR wants it to mean. “Early beta” is an oxymoron, and is a bit rich for a game that’s already more than a year overdue. I honestly don’t care about release dates, but I hate PR spin.

    • teije says:

      Beta now means Alpha, and Alpha now means unfinished and missing most of the functionality. Not just in the gaming biz – this has happened in business software too.

      What “Early Beta” means – well, I have no effing idea.

      And to an earlier comment – me too – I’m a very enthusiastic backer, but don’t see the point of playing a story-driven RPG before its done.

      • Zelos says:

        Alpha has always meant unfinished.

        Beta is supposed to be feature complete products. It’s definitely not always used that way anymore though. Hell, games *release* feature incomplete these days.

      • thelastpointer says:

        I’m so grumpy about this. Beta means — should mean — “please try to find bugs and write detailed reports about them”. It also implies that more or less all of the game’s mechanics are present, so players can catch bugs in all of them (not the whole story or all levels, just all mechanics).
        Back in the ‘ol days, only devoted fans were supposed to try them, because they wanted to help make the game better.
        Nowadays people are surprised that they don’t get an exclusive in-game item, a 3d-printed statue, a printed manual, a T-shirt, and a personal thank you note from the lead designer, and when they find a bug, instead of reporting it, they ramble about a half-finished product and give premature 6.5/10 scores.
        In their defense, they didn’t pay for the whole game in advance back then, so I’d say it’s purely marketing departments’ fault.

        • vahnn says:

          I went through the tedious process of logging in on my phone to say, “I like this post.”

    • keefybabe says:

      Just chiming in with a lame “me too”. As a rule my experience of games in Beta has generally spoiled my experience of the completed game.

      So I’ll wait for release.

  6. Fomorian1988 says:

    “‘Spiritual’ of course means ‘we couldn’t or wouldn’t afford the license’ rather than anything metaphysical.”

    If I recall correctly, Wizards of the Coast no longer makes the Planescape pen and paper game and doesn’t want anyone working with that universe. Don’t quote me on that, as I read about it years ago.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      Yeah, that’s correct. The original game was meant to support the tabletop line; with Planescape many years gone from the tabletop, WotC gives no fucks anymore.

    • Jekadu says:

      inXile owns the Torment name now. As I recall WotC released a statement after the Kickstarter campaign ended where they claimed they weren’t adverse to licensing Planescape for video gamesagain, which was a bit odd since from what I hear the inXile guys had been trying to do that for ages.

      Personally I don’t mind the change in setting. The first Torment was a self-contained story that used its setting to explore certain themes, and I’m not convinced Torment is the kind of series where it makes sense for there to be sequels or even a shared universe. Let each game be its own thing.

  7. axfelix says:

    I for one am very curious as to whether or not this will be good. It’s like we have no idea at this point!

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Well, the Alpha is extremely promising in terms of mechanics, setting, writing, plot, tone, and presentation. If the Beta keeps it up then I will be very excited for the full release, and also very happy to wait “’till it’s done”

      • Arkayjiya says:

        This is tempting me to try the beta version >< I don't know if I should resist. Actually I don't even know if I have access to the beta xD In any case, I'm happy to hear about the mechanics, I voted "turn based combat" before, but a lot of people were angry about it so I hope they really nailed it (of course mechanics is not only combat so I'm even happier if the rest is good too!)

  8. racccoon says:

    no noo..not gary numan or is it..there’s a car out there.or something like that. :)

  9. Parrilla says:

    I backed it on kickstarter fairly substantially (3 figures) and really looking forward to it and hope it lives up to the expectations.

    Not going to be playing beta or anything though, this is the type of game to wait for the full version for me.