Torment is a wild RPG set in the PlaneScape D&D universe. I don't know a particularly great deal about the PlaneScape universe -- just what I've learned from Torment -- but I do know that it's very cool, very unique. Back to Torment, though. The game opens with you on a slab in a building you learn is called the Mortuary. Yes, you were just dead a few minutes ago. Your main character is, in fact, nigh-immortal. That is to say, you can die, but you won't stay dead. Apparently, there are a few ways to totally destroy yourself (being burned to ashes or devoured, for example), but in the general course of the game you can die all you like. In fact, you have to on several occasions. A unique gameplay element if there ever was one.

The other members of your party are hardly any more normal than your avatar. The first one you meet/recruit (fresh off the slab, in fact) is Morte, a floating, talking skull. As is apparently the duty of talking computer-game skulls, his role is largely to supply comic relief--it's hard to keep from calling him Murray sometimes. Of course, unlike Murray, Morte is a very useful ally. He's a good fighter, and fairly knowledgeable. Another character you'll find is Annah, a girl on the streets of Sigil (an enormous, ring-shaped city that serves as the doorway to an infinitude of dimensions...). Annah is a firey-tempered young woman, who happens to have a tail. This is because she's part fiend, making her what's known in the PlaneScape universe as a "tiefling." She's a fun, high-spirited character--one of my favorites. Lessee... I guess I really shouldn't go on at too much length here (discovery is part of the fun, after all), but I must mention the celibate succubus. If there has ever been a more paradoxical character idea....

The game mechanics themselves are pretty familiar, as they are based on (by which I mean "are exactly the same as") AD&D rules. Combat is sort of real-time (you can pause to issue orders), and the interface is pretty decent. You click on baddies to order default physical attacks, or you can right-click to bring up a menu of spells and special abilities your characters can perform.

I guess the thing about Torment that most captures my imagination and interest is the sense of scope. As you meet characters and interact with the various denizens of Torment, you get a picture, piece by piece, of a vast, fantastic realm of infinite possibilites. Even your own character has many unexplored facets and histories.... There's just so much to explore.

Of course, like all RPGs and graphic adventures, there are parts that are annoying. Some side quests are a little dodgy (by which I mean hard to complete successfully becuase of odd scripting, not their conceptual basis), and of course there are the occasional inevitable "stuck for a long time and get bored" periods. I suppose with such a huge story (the game is 4 CDs long--not a fantastic measure of length, I know, but that should still give you some idea of what I'm talking about), it's to be expected that some bits would be rough around the edges, but it's not to be totally overlooked.

Well, that's my brief tour of Torment. I recommend it pretty much unreservedly to any RPG fan.