The first in our CRPG series. Hop on our stream Tuesday evenings to watch the playthrough, and join the discussion on Thursdays.

Links to the episodes and to suggested readings will be posted here as we go.

After the likes of Ultima, but before Bioware asserted itself with KOTOR, there were a slew of isometric Dungeons-and-Dragons-based CRPGs produced by a variety of different studios and developers. The combat mechanics all show their age now, but some of the storytelling and writing remains the best in video games. Baldur’s Gate 2 remains the most beloved of the lot (and I’d be willing to try that instead), but Planescape: Torment is Majora’s Mask to Baldur’s Gate’s Ocarina of Time – off-beat, meditative, decentralized, and rich in theme. The game places you in the shoes of “The Nameless One” – a character covered with the scars of a thousand deaths and a thousand lives, but who keeps waking up in the crossroads between dimensions, though his memories are lost. You play to discover (and decide) the past and the present, among an enormous cast of extraordinarily-well-written characters, including party members so diverse that they may (and will) attack one another (or you) based on your decisions and situation. There’s an enhanced edition that came out a couple years back, and a spiritual sequel (Torment: Tides of Numenara), but you can still play the base game on a shoestring.

Week 1: Get out of the Mortuary

Week 2: Explore the Hive

Week 3: The Smoldering Corpse

Week 4: Finding Pharod via Reekwind and Side Quests