Torment Thursday is making its return. I stopped doing them primarily because the game ran pretty terribly on my system and the beta was also pretty unstable on it. It wore down my patience especially since it currently lacks a decent autosave system and I really didn’t like having to replay the same content over and over again. Once I made my mind up, inXile Entertainment promptly decided to update the beta, revise the UI, tighten up some of the engine and mess around with the mechanics and story. So it is time to jump back in and replay all that content all over again.
The first couple of scenes are pretty much the same as it was even way back in the first Alpha Systems Test, we have the emphasis on a combination of text and a little voice and sound work, with elaborate scenes describing what your character is doing and remembering without having much if anything reflected in the visuals. It is obviously pretty limited and I still think it would be significantly improved by adding even a few static pieces of art, but I love the flavour of the memories, it is a soft introduction to the strangeness that is the world of Numenera and they have to work to draw you into the bizarre science fantasy blend.
The most significant change they have made in this version is the introduction of hitpoints, something I have to admit I am a little disappointed by. In the tabletop game of Numenera only NPCs have hitpoints, players just have their three stat pools, might, speed and intelligence. These pools are used when spending effort in checks and also when you take damage, if a pool runs dry you take penalties and if all three run out you die. This means that using your combat powers always comes at the price of making you more vulnerable. It also means that you cannot completely ignore a stat pool, even if none of your powers directly uses it as you may always be attacked. This is baked into the system at a fairly low level, for example most attacks hit might, so might is used by fewer skills and abilities. By adding hitpoints and removing this feature, might becomes less valuable unless they do further tweaking.
Colin McComb has stated on the inXile forums that this change was made with the approval of Monte Cook Games and they do have a about half a year to iterate on and balance this change, but I can’t help but feel that they are sacrificing some of the uniqueness of the system to make it easier to quickly understand for newcomers and to make overall combat balance easier. It is a trade off that it easy to understand but also a little sad.