Torment: Tides of Numenera is a game of many words, and the early parts of the saga can be somewhat overwhelming without a helping hand. If you’ve played the original Torment, or are a regular player of cRPGs, you should be just fine. But if you need a little more help with getting started, finding party companions, or navigating to useful parts of the Sagus Cliffs area, then read on.
These are my experiences with the review build of the game. If you’re reading this in six months time (or more) then certain aspects may have changed, patched, and so on.
Part of the joy of these games is roleplaying as the character you want to be, so don’t take any of this as the gospel truth and one true path. You can’t choose every useful skill (of course), and Torment: Tides of Numenera gives you plenty of ways (companions, other quest options) of getting around character limitations.
The three playable ‘classes’ (Glaive, Jack, Nano), broadly correspond to the three main stats; Might, Speed, Intellect, respectively. But you won’t be locked into that path. I ended up as a Jack with a heavy investment in Intellect (for speech checks and various other reasons).
It is a good idea to have at least one of Intimidation (linked to Might), Deception, or Persuasion (both linked to Intellect) at your disposal. There are lot of speech checks in the game, and having at least one of these (if not two or three, ultimately) can open up a lot of dialogue resolutions.
Anamnesis is another useful skill to take early on in Torment: Tides of Numenera. This gives you a bonus to checks when regaining lost memories (during interactions with NPCs, objects and so on). Early in the game there are a whole lot of these opportunities. You’ll not only get experience points for succeeding, but parts of the Last Castoff’s story too.
I’d also suggest Lore: Machinery. There are a lot of curious devices laying around Sagus Cliffs, and being able to figure out how to use them is always beneficial.
If you’re planning to get into a fight or two, some skill in Light, Medium or Heavy weapons will obviously be helpful. Not absolutely necessary though – I finished the game without the Last Castoff being training in any of those things.
Where to Recruit Eager Companions
In Torment: Tides of Numenera, party companions won’t just help you during a Crisis combat encounter. You can also make use of their skills and stat pools during many of the skill check events in the game. Keep that in mind when putting your party together, so you have a nice broad range of skills covered. You may not end up getting Lore: Machinery yourself, but if one of your party does then you can use their expertise as a boost when required.
Each of the six companions can be found in the first major city hub, Sagus Cliffs. Here’s where they all are (skip over this part if you don’t want minor spoilers).
Callistege and Aligern (Nanos): You can’t miss them, because they’ll be introduced to you right after the introduction and character creation. It’s not possible to have both of them in your party at once (they’re not best pals), so you’ll need to ditch one or both almost immediately after meeting them. Callistege heads back to the Order of Truth building, while Aligern sets up back in the Underbelly region.
Tybir (Jack): The guy you’re most likely to run into next. He’s in Circus Minor, near where his partner in crime Ris is being put to death. If you agree to help Ris out, then he’ll join your party. If you dismiss him he’ll be up in Caravanserai (the top left corner of the map) ‘disguised’ as an Aeon Priest.
Erritis (Glaive): He’s in the Cliff’s Edge area of Sagus Cliffs, by a crashed airship. It’s over on the left hand side of the map, just by the way to and from Circus Minor. He’s glowing gold, so he’s not too difficult to spot. If you ask him to leave the group, he’ll go and stand back by the airship.
Rhin (Lost Child): You’ll find her by interacting and investigating the collapsed house to the north of the purple triangle sculpture in Cliff’s Edge. If you want to recruit her you’ll have to first see off the Thugs who show up, and then convince her slaver owner that it’s a good idea for her to tag along with you (doing so will give you some Tidal knowledge as well). When dismissed from the party she’ll go back to the collapsed house.
Matkina (Jack): Your main questline in Sagus Cliffs is ultimately to find Matkina, so she’ll show up eventually. She’s in the Cave of Last Words, reached by sorting out the underground problems with the Stichus. If dismissed, she’ll go back there.
Another vital companion item that you’ll pick up through pursuing the critical path is the Bronze Sphere (a familiar item for Torment fans). Using this, you can summon and dismiss companions at will (as long as you have space in the party).
Keep in mind that companions will not level up when away from you. If you sub somebody in late in the game, they won’t be as useful in a fight or in contributing with extra skills.
When you happen upon someone who can upgrade the armour of your companions (around halfway through the game), take up that offer for as many as you can afford. You won’t get another chance.
A Place To Lay Your Head
Early in the game, after finishing a few quests, you’ll probably find your stat pools getting low and needing somewhere to sleep in order to refresh them. There are two possible spots in Sagus Cliffs; one in Circus Minor with the Cult of the Changing God, and one up in Caravanserai directly below where the silver aliens hang out. The CotCG will charge 40 Shins (unless you join them, then I think it’s free – but I didn’t do that, so there may be other consequences), while the Inn will cost you 20 Shins per party member. Depending on how many party members you have, then, one could be slightly cheaper than the other.
Remember that sometimes (though rarely) quests will progress when you sleep. If there’s still a murderer at large, they may strike again.
Redistribution of Wealth
If you need some easy, early Shins, remember that holding down Tab (default) will show you areas of the map that can be looted (hand icon). There are two spots in Cliff’s Edge, near the three orphan children and the lost Stichus. That should earn you enough for one sleep at the CotCG at least. Keep an eye out for similar looting possibilities.
For another good source of Shins, any Numenera you find that are labelled as ‘Oddities’ have no particular use beyond their sale value. Some of them do have fun little functions to play around with, but none of them will suddenly become vital quest items later on (at least, I never ran into that). That means you can sell them without much concern.
Curiosity May Improve The Cat
Be as curious as possible and try to interact with everything when offered. Torment: Tides of Numenera is a game of discovery, so if you get a chance to shove your hand into a bizarre device, or drink some dubious liquids, give it a go. You might die, but even that can be useful. There are points in the game where you’ll want to return to your mind labyrinth, so learning a quick way to kill yourself is actually handy in the long run. Very few events seem to have long term negative effects, and I gained many more stat boosts than lost points by just throwing myself into situations.
Intellect (or a buddy with high intellect) is important for a great many of the optional stat checks you’ll run into. It’s definitely worth having a few points yourself, or, at the very least, hanging around with somebody else who’s smart. That’s probably why Torment: Tides of Numenera gives you two potential Nano companions right from the beginning.
Someone with the Healing skill can restore more health with healing items than someone without it, so consider having a dedicated healer in your group too. Erritis comes with Healing, but he’s also likely to be doing most of your fighting (if you’re finding yourself in combat), so he’s not necessarily the best choice.