Torment: Tides of Numenera’s karma system is a three way battle that’s not interested in good vs. evil

Torment Tides of Numenera

How to follow-up a game as ludicrously popular as Planescape: Torment? Such is the question currently scampering all around for inXile Entertainment. It’s a game that’s reached legendary status, where any part of a sequel is going to be dissected and compared through nostalgia-flooded glasses. Today at Gamescom, Colin McComb, creative lead on the project, explained how karma will work in the game.

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“Our system is actually called the tides,” he says. “We did not want to make it a zero-sum game of ‘okay, you’re either lawful or chaotic, you’re either evil or good.’ Our tides are instead psychic energy that reflects on the choices you have made in the game.

“So if you choose to do something that’s more wisdom or intellect based it will increase the blue tide. If you do something that’s action based or passion based or creative then the red tide goes up and if you’re like ‘I’m all about the fame and power’ then it’s the silver tide. So these things will compliment each other as opposed to be a pull and drag.”

To complement that system, they don’t weight on any sort of actual morality – it’s based on your actions, not how they might be perceived. “We didn’t want to be like ‘that’s a good action’ or ‘that’s a bad action’, we didn’t want to judge your actions, we just wanted to track them. So you can construct your own legacy without some sort of external marker saying ‘this is objectively bad.’”

Sounds good to me, particularly in something as sprawling as Torment. It lets you behave consistently while still being able to save the odd prince, kill a couple of grovelling peasants. Like we all want to, really.