Here's a 1999 classic by Black Isle Studios where you must explore the city of Sigil and the D&D multiverse to discover who you are.
Planescape Torment is a D&D RPG while its cousin games Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 and Icewind Dale are combat RPGs. What sets Planescape Torment apart is its open world, plenty of reading, and world-building. There's so much cool lore that you piece together for yourself by talking to the people who inhabit Sigil. You can even talk to people at random and you'll most likely learn something new and that's awesome for a game released in 1999.
At the start of Planescape Torment, you choose your stats then set forth into the world with nothing but a blabbering skull as a companion and you don't even have a name. You know nothing about your past but you must have committed some terrible crimes. By the way, you are an immortal who can never die and you've had many bodies for possibly eons which are now corpses.
You've woken up on a stone slab in the mortuary which is crawling with undead. You don't know who you are and neither does your skull friend, Morte. However, there are tattoos on your back that are a set of instructions telling you to find a lost journal and a man called Pharod. So, you meet Pharod who introduces you to his daughter Annah who then accompanies you to the place where she found your body. Next, you're on a hunt for the night hag Ravel Puzzlewell who might have more information about who you are and why you can't die. By the way, Ravel was imprisoned in a maze by the Lady of Pain who didn't take kindly when Ravel tried to free her from Sigil. As you can see, Planescape is definitely not a game about rainbows and unicorns.
The story is great but not really the main selling point. There are so many side-quests packed into every area and I've never seen so many in one game. For instance, in the Hive (the second area), you'll meet Mabbeth who can teach you to be a mage, a Githzerai warrior Dak'kon who can join your party, and a bartender from whom you can buy your eye from one of your past bodies. You can just walk up to people and they'll have an interesting side-quest that you can do for XP. Most of them are pretty mundane but also immersive.
You'll also want to keep track of the dialogue choices that you make over the course of the campaign. Like in other D&D games, you are good or evil and lawful or chaotic. For example, if you want to be lawful good, you have to not kill people if you can avoid it and always tell the truth. If you want to be chaotic evil, you just do the opposite and kill people and tell lies if it gets you what you want. There are cool rewards for certain kinds of characters, too, like you can't join the Xaositects if you're not chaotic.
There are 3 guilds to join that I've seen so far: Xaositects (crazy chaos people), Godsmen (blacksmiths), and the Sensates (learners and explorers). There are also a few optional dungeons and a crazy alternate ending where you become the Silent King for all eternity. There's so much stuff to do in Planescape Torment that you can think of it like the Skyrim of PC games in 1999.
Most quests are very repetitive as you mostly just talk to person A then talk to person B then talk to person C and so on. The dialogue is very long so I hope that you like reading. Another issue is that it's too easy to miss important content if you're not using a guide or if you don't talk to everybody. For example, you can learn the resurrect spell at the start of the campaign but not if you make the wrong dialogue choices or you can miss companions like Dak'kon. That's why I've chosen to play the whole thing while using a walkthrough. Another issue for me is the length of the campaign. Considering the sheer number of side-quests, I got tired about 2/3s through the story even after 30 or so hours of play time.
I haven't talked much about the combat but there's not much to discuss as there are not many required fights. If you die, you just wake up nearby because you're immortal so keep your allies' health up and you should be good. Also, make sure to buy useful weapons and tattoos from stores to handle the hard fights but there's really not that many fights to worry about and you can load your last auto-save if something nasty happens anyway. There are cool spells and thief abilities that you can use if you want but you can probably just not use spells for the whole game and be fine as long as your character is a fighter.
Finally, I came across a couple of annoying bugs. One was a game crash when I tried to sell stuff from my partners' inventory but I'm not sure if that one is still in the game. Another one is when I was stuck on a black screen after starting a new game. Once, I started a new game but the chat box was stuck at the top and I couldn't see any of my chat options at all which is obviously not good.
If you like going deep into the lore of the Dungeons and Dragons multiverse then I can't think of a better game for you. However, if you're looking for fun gameplay, it's better to look elsewhere because Planescape Torment isn't a fun game; it's an immersive one and it tries to tell a story that's utterly depressing but in the end, we read it because we care about the mysterious nameless one.
- + Immersive albeit depressing story
- + Lots of varied content
- + Role-playing as an alignment can be fun
- - Simply not enough combat to please the majority of RPG fans
- - Important content is missable
- - Occasional game-breaking bugs