Zombies are fun. There’s a reason that they’ve been the focus of a lot of our pop culture. Firstly, they’re great to shoot at or avoid in action games. Secondly, they make great analogues for communism or consumerism, depending on how you look at them. Thirdly, they’re morally uncomplicated shooting targets. I think that’s part of the reason that I enjoy Planescape: Torment so damn much. Oh, also ice…ice is cool (ha).
Planescape: Torment & Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition come to us from Beamdog, who are also behind the release of the two Baldur’s Gate enhanced editions. Unlike those games, however, the two games included here are very different from each other and are not directly linked by a common story or setting. As such, we’re probably going to need to split these two suckers up to talk about them easily.
Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition
Icewind Dale is closer to Baldur’s Gate than to Planescape: Torment. It uses practically the same engine with little alteration, and the enhanced edition controls in exactly the same way. You still have the alterations to the menu system, such as using a radial menu, which makes controlling the game much easier. On top of that, the way you individually select characters and can organize them into groups and formations is the same too.
These changes are pretty important too because unlike Baldur’s Gate, which offered a pretty decent balance between story and combat, Icewind Dale leans towards combat more often than not. There are a lot of times that you’ll find yourself in combat with large groups of enemies, forced to take them on all at once. As long as you’re prepared, this doesn’t necessarily make the game that much more challenging, but it’s just a different style of gameplay.
Overall, how much you’ll enjoy Icewind Dale is down to how much you prefer combat to the story. Don’t get me wrong, the story is definitely there and is definitely interesting, it just doesn’t seem prioritized over the combat. You literally start out as a party in a tavern, and you’re basically drafted into an expedition with no background or anything. Again, this doesn’t make it bad. It just depends on how well presented you want the story to be. There’s little interaction that is story-based, like exploration or investigation. You just fight stuff until you reach the end. It’s a good thing the combat is fun, or you’d be completely bored throughout.
Full disclosure: I love Planescape: Torment. It was a game that didn’t have huge sales numbers when it first came out but has since grown a cult following. A much-deserved following, if you ask me. Planescape: Torment puts you in the rotten feet of ‘The Nameless One’, an undead man who has no memory of his past. You wake up in a strange morgue and have to escape with a talking skull to figure out what the hell is going on.
In many ways Planescape: Torment is the complete opposite of Icewind Dale. There is a heavy focus on dialogue, plot and non-combat solutions to your problems. If you try to fight your way through everything, you’re going to end up as a puddle of grey goo on the floor pretty quickly. In many situations, you really just need to flee if you want to survive. That’s not to say that the combat isn’t present at all. There are many situations where you will be called upon to defend yourself, especially if you screw up and say the wrong things to the wrong people or take a wrong turn down a dark alley.
Planescape: Torment takes place in the Planescape campaign setting for AD&D 2nd Edition (go figure). Once again, the changes from the original to the new version are the same with the radial menus and how you move and interact with the world. The biggest difference here is in the UI design. The world (or worlds) in which Planescape: Torment takes place has a sort of weird aesthetic to it, all gears and brass but not quite a steampunk. As such, the UI looks sort of like a decaying mechanical apparatus of some kind. It ties very well into the more interesting setting of the world and helps the game to feel more distinct from its contemporaries.
Overall, both games offer something different. Icewind Dale is a combat-focused dungeon crawler with plenty of depth to the mechanics if you’re solely into the combat. Planescape: Torment offers a story-driven narrative adventure through a deeply intricate multiverse stacked with characters to interact with and obstacles to overcome. Which you prefer is down to your preferred style of play, but I would personally say that Planescape: Torment outclasses Icewind Dale by just the narrowest of margins.
Publisher: Skybound Games
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch
Release Date: 15th October 2019
Do you agree with our review of Planescape: Torment & Icewind Dale Enhanced Editions? What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments below.