Torment: Tides of Numenera

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Torment: Tides of Numenera Game Poster Image
Complex role-playing adventure asks mature moral questions.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Message is variable. Morality is core of game; players control tone by their decisions during play. Lots of complex philosophical concepts; some unfavorable concepts such as murder, slavery explored.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players can choose to embody self-sacrifice, compassion or selfishness, cruelty.

Ease of Play

Simple controls; difficulty varies depending on skills you choose, makeup of your party.


Most of game spent talking, but combat has blood, dismemberment.


Nothing's shown, but there's talk of characters' past lovers.


Rare use of "s--t," "piss" in dialogue.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters visit taverns.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Torment: Tides of Numenera is a complex role-playing game. Its emphasis is on storytelling and involves a lot of reading; its mature, often dark text deals with complex moral and philosophical ideas. Featuring the occasional curse word, subject matter includes non-kid-friendly themes such as murder, child slavery, suicide, political corruption, and war. Though there's not much combat, battles show blood and dismemberment of opponents from hand-to-hand and projectile weapons.

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What's it about?

TORMENT: TIDES OF NUMENARA tells the story of the Last Castoff, a clone-like hero searching for her (or his, depending on player choice) lost memory. Having arrived on a futuristic (possibly postapocalyptic) planet called the Ninth World, she sets out to discover her origins and the intent of her creator. Along the way, she gathers a group of unlikely allies, and together they navigate a society torn by irreconcilable differences of class and religion. The majority of the game involves exploration, character interaction, and dialogue puzzles. That means lots of storytelling/reading, with action sequences few and far between.

Is it any good?

Many games earn Mature ratings with sex, violence, and profanity; few temper those things with adult concepts such as duty, compassion, and self-sacrifice. But within that context, Torment: Tides of Numenera is a rarity: an adult-themed game that asks tough questions and expects players to provide grown-up answers. Anyone going into this one hoping for hours of bloody hack-'n'-slash is going to be disappointed. The main thrust (pun intended) of the game is exploration and interaction, and developer inXile has created a brilliant setting for both. From bustling cities to echoing tombs, you're in for a surprise-filled ride as you uncover ancient gadgets called "numenera" and encounter strange travelers from distant worlds. The gadgets are valuable if you know how to use them; the travelers are alternately helpful and problematic. Battle is turn-based, which gives you time to plan out your attacks, but success in battle depends on good party building and effective use of each character's skill points. Gear plays a role in this, too, though Torment is far less item-centric than other RPGs.

As mentioned before, the focus of Torment is storytelling, although its unique “cypher” system helps scratch the gear-hoarding itch. Aside from the amazing writing, Torment offers good voice acting, incredible locations, and a seamless interactive experience that brings an alternate universe to vibrant, believable life. The only downsides are its occasional instability and bugs. Though mostly clean, crashes do occur, and at least one mission can't be completed. Still, the creativity and fun far eclipse the technical issues, and story-loving RPG-ers can count on more than 30 hours of quality adventuring.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the ethics of science. In the search to prolong human life, is it possible to go too far?

  • Discuss our society's relationship to technology. Are we dependent on it? If so, is that a good or a bad thing?

  • Think about science and religion. From what you've seen on the news, are the two naturally opposed, or is it possible for them to coexist?

Game details

  • Platforms: Mac, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
  • Price: $44.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid (Special versions containing extras like soundtracks, avatars and strategy guides available for $64.99 and $89.99.)
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Techland
  • Release date: January 26, 2017
  • Genre: Role-Playing
  • Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
  • ESRB rating: M for Violence, blood, sexual themes, language.
  • Last updated: March 21, 2017

Our editors recommend

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