Apologised for my voice in this one, I recorded it while pretty ill this weekend, I guess I will ramp more slowly back into production than initially intended. Just before I went away, inxile entertainment released the second Alpha Systems Test for Torment: Tides of Numenera. This time with a couple of scenes focused on the exploration mechanic. It has a couple of puzzles, multiple scenes, companions and conversations. It again spoils some of the very early portions of the game, all of these tests are meant to feature parts from quite early on.
One of the things I am really enjoying about this process is seeing how they are translating the Cipher system to the PC. They are clearly using the same basic system for the checks I have seen so far, the test has a difficulty (which corresponds to a multiple of 3), the difficulty level is modified by traits and skills that you have and finally you can expend effort to reduce the difficulty of a test further. Since the scenes displayed so far are very short there is no reason not to just spend your points as quickly as you can. I suspect this will be different in the full game. I am pretty keen to see how combat will work in Tides.
I also like how we get to see more of the world in this one. The game takes place an unimaginably long time into the future. Earth in Numenera has been host to at least 8 world/universe changing civilizations before the game starts, each having risen and made its mark before falling for some reason or another. Nothing is truly natural or unchanged, even the very dirt itself contains signs of previous civilizations. From the very first scene transition you can see that too, the layers of strange ruins of buildings and craft, diverse and distinct as if no two of them were made by the same hands, with strange devices and objects of no clear purpose. Maybe some of them will be useful, maybe some won’t.
All that said I can definitely understand why they are careful talk about these releases as Alpha Systems Tests. They wear their incompleteness on their sleeve, from the interface to the characters to the easy way in which the text will break the fourth wall. While they expect these releases to be played, they only expect the most invested players to do so literally given that the cheapest tier that included it was $125US and anyone else has to fork up another $10 for the privilege. Conveniently enough I think they are interesting and will probably check out each of the tests as they come out.