Leading contender to win the “Longest Game Title of the Year” award, Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition has finally come to the home console world. Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition is a port of a remake of two of the greatest Dungeons and Dragons games ever made. Originally created in 1999 and 2000 respectively, Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition was remade by Beamdog in 2014 (Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition) and 2017 (Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition) for mobile platforms. Finally, in 2019, Skybound Games has taken those remakes and ported them to the console in one glorious, old school package of Dungeons and Dragons Classics.
A couple of notes before getting into this review, in case you haven’t noticed already I love these games. I played the originals back in college when they were first released and loved every second of them. I have played Dungeons and Dragons since 1984 and played many of the video games that Strategic Simulations, Inc. put out during the 80’s and 90’s to get my D & D fix. While I wasn’t a massive fan of the World of Faerun, I did love the new content that was produced in Planescape for the rpg. Planescape: Torment is easily in my top 20 video games of all time.
To say that you have hundreds of hours of gameplay available to you in Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition is not an exaggeration. Both games offer a rich story line that will just eat away at the hours that you have to play these games. The stories told in these games are vastly different, but no less engaging.
In Planescape: Torment, you are the Nameless One and have awoken in a mortuary. You are immediately approached by a floating skull, named Morte, who offers advice as to how to escape your immediate imprisonment. Morte reads the tattoos that are inscribed on the body of the Nameless One, and discovers that they need to find someone named Pharod, somewhere in their current city of Pharod. Planescape: Torment’s story is one of discovery of your past lives and the purpose that you are supposed to fulfill. The world of Planescape was introduced to the rpg in 1994 and even though it was released to critical acclaim, did not seem to capture the minds of the rpg players as the Forgotten Realms world did. Planescape: Torment is a wonderful example of the Planescape world and the rich storytelling that could occur in that setting. For me, this is the better of the two games in this package.
In Icewind Dale, you lead a party of adventurers resting in the town of Easthaven, far to the north in Faerun. Hired intillay to discover what had happened to a messenger, the party of adventurers is quickly drawn into investigating a great evil that is kidnapping townsfolk from Easthaven. This leads the party into combating ancient demons and becoming the protectors of Easthaven. Unlike Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale is much more of a traditional rpg for this time period. You are leading a party of adventures, not just a single individual, through a story of battling ancient evil and protecting the innocent. However, the story of Icewind Dale is no less engrossing, even if it is much more classic and traditional in nature. This edition also contains the expansions Heart of Winter and Trials of the Luremaster. The World of Faerun is much more popular of the two worlds that you will visit in this package. If you have played any type of Dungeons and Dragons video game, board game, or rpg within the last five years, you are familiar with this setting.
In an attempt not to make this review twice as long as it needs to be, I’m going to summarize the major components of boths games’ gameplay in this section. Both games have a very similar base to them, but also vastly differ in other areas. Both games have similar isometric views that will show you the world around you, but also utilize the “fog of war” on areas that you haven’t explored yet. Both games also use the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition rules set, so newer players to Dungeons and Dragons will see familiar rules, but will need to familiarize themselves with an older edition of the game. Both games also have a similar inventory system, where you will place items directly into their proper slots on your characters and both games allow for different dialogue options during conversations. But the differences between Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale are pretty drastic.
To begin with, Icewind Dale allows the player to change the difficulty of the game. Accessibility wasn’t a concern back in the late 90’s. Either you knew how to play, or you learned to “git gud” very quickly. Both Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale are difficult at their original settings, but only Icewind Dale allows you to turn on Story Mode. Story Mode is a way for new players to enjoy the story without worrying about death, as your characters cannot die in this mode. Icewind Dale also allows the player to create their own party of adventurers based on the 2nd Edition rules set, whereas Planescape: Torment you do not have this feature. You only work with customizing the Nameless One to fit your play style and not a whole party of adventurers.
The controls for both games has been optimized to better fit the console systems. It did take me awhile to get used to this, being more of a PC rpg player. Having played both original versions of these games, I have to say that the gameplay feels exactly as I remember, with the exception of the controller versus keyboard.
While the graphics on Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition has been converted to high definition, both games’ graphics still look old and worn out, compared to today’s standards. Yes, these games were designed and created 20 years ago, so of course the graphics would be dated, but it is still something that I had to get over. My memory of how good these games looked did not match up to the reality that, like me, these games are getting older and older.
Voice acting is fantastic in both games. While your party and characters are not voiced, the characters you will meet will have some voice acting attached to their dialogue. These conversations are not fully voiced, but are voiced enough to give you a better sense of the world around you. Planescape: Torment gets a special mention for the voice acting of Morte, who really helps drive the tone of the game.
Wow, this review was a lot more difficult to write than I had originally thought. Not only trying to balance and hit all the points for both Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale, but also managing my nostalgia for both games. Ultimately, this is a great set of games to buy if you are interested in the history of Dungeons and Dragons games. These are modern classics of the rpg genre. If you are someone who originally played these games back in the late 90s, you will get to replay two of the greatest rpg games of that time period, even though they do look like they came from that time period. Sometimes, what we remember does not translate to reality all that well. If you are new to these games, I cannot recommend Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition enough, especially to current Dungeons and Dragons players who would like to see what 2nd Edition was all about. Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition is a solid port of a solid remake of classic games. Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition is available now for the Xbox One for $49.99.