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  1. For a few years, I’ve preferred to play Geneforge games specifically on Torment because it felt like the most “gritty” way to play. You’re some untrained schmuck and you usually get dumped into some backwater wilderness with fire-spitting velociraptors, genetically altered ape-leopards (and normal apes and leopards are already strong enough to tear someone’s arms off), and eyeless worms that spit acid all over you. Even with canister modification, it “made sense” that my creations would be a bit “funny-lookin,” that with me having no real training or mentorship, my creations would have a disadvantage against the battle-hardened rogues that had survived by the laws of survival-of-the-fittest. It made sense that serviles hardened by years of independence and abandonment would have the strength to kill me if I crossed them too casually. But, with time, battle, months of travel on a theoretical abandoned island, islands, or continent, my creations would grow and so would I, and towards the end of the game if I played smart I could compete and survive. Torment in GF1-M feels different. Different in that I felt vulnerable as one might in a Dark-Souls game in that all the Sholai towards the end of the game one- or two-shot my shaper. It doesn’t help that Shapers get 50% less HP than Guardians and 25% less than Agents per point of endurance. I was going to do a semi-loyalist play through but I got so sick of dying to everything I decided to just use the Geneforge just to see if that could tip the scale and make the game less frustrating. Amazingly, it did not. After gaining 8 in all primary stats, buffing my melee, missile, and magic - also by 8, I still got 2-shot by run-of-the-mill non-augmented sholai. That’s right. We’re talking endgame level (17/18) player character with a symbiotic cloak, charmed plate or shaper robes, zavor’s ring, fully buffed helix bracelet (that’s +12 endurance total over baseline for those keeping track) and I had to save-load to get out of just the research area in the northeast corner of the map (maybe 3-4 tries until air-shock proc’d stun on a wizard because otherwise I’d get stun-locked or hit with acid and die in one round). Then to cross the bridge in the West Gate area without stealth, another 3-4 save-loads because even the vanilla “stealth sholai” could kill me one-on-one after my character had been modified by the Geneforge into near-Godhood. I used stealth & the spore baton to get to the docks to escape the island because I also couldn’t survive against Trajkov’s minions at the docks. Being a shaper, I was looking forward to having some powerful creations after being Geneforged, but the Geneforge also doesn’t give any shaping skill in this game, so my creations are a little stronger for being beefed up by an improved essence pool, but don’t get any extra base levels. Turns out, creating a full pool of fully buffed endgame creations, they still die in 1-2 hits to everything dished out by sholai on Torment. Which means there’s almost no point to making them, because one AOE attack wipes the party. And when you’re save-scumming just to keep creations alive past the second round of a fight - after being modified by the Geneforge, fun has reached an all-time low. In short, my experience of “endgame” Torment mode in GF1-M was that everything killed me in 1-2 hits regardless of my build, and for certain sholai, even regardless of being Geneforged. It was absolutely the case that pre-Geneforge, enemies that were too low in level to give me experience or only gave 1-2 experience could still spray my party with acid and kill 80% of my party in 2 rounds on Torment. It was often the case that my own “team” got me killed. I would charm an enemy, or an ally who was not charmed (say Goettsch attacking Sholai assassins in the great temple) would use an AOE attack that applied acid and took out most of my health, and I would be stuck trying to heal, run away, or cure acid (but not able to do all 3), and if I could only do 2/3, an enemy would inevitably kill me before the next round was over. It would have felt “fair” if enemies had friendly fire, but they are immune to their own friendly fire, they are immune to your friendly fire when charmed, while you and your Player Character get absolutely torched by everything. If you are playing torment as a shaper looking for the tipping point where you emerge from your vulnerability and can consistently survive and compete against enemies with intelligent strategy... my advice is “stop.” The way stats work in this game, even after Geneforge use (which in terms of skill points is roughly the equivalent of getting boosted to level 40+ in a game with level cap 20), using essence shield and buffs, you die almost instantly. There is no tipping point and that fact (that you never reach a point where you approach equality with your enemies) effectively broke the lore and immersion of the story for me, even understanding how difficult torment is supposed to be. I could still win a loyalist play through on torment, I have the leadership to kill Trajkov without a fight, can destroy the Geneforge, get out with stealth, and complete the game. But at this point... I don’t really care to do that. I think I probably killed my enjoyment of the game for a few months finishing it on Torment, and I’ll go through again on Normal or Veteran sometime and enjoy a more regular difficulty curve - one where I actually get to enjoy the feeling that my character has become a somewhat competent shaper by endgame.
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