So…Torchlight. You guys all know how excited I was for this game, my preview was gushing, and I couldn’t wait to get my tiny hands (I really don’t have very large hands, but I suppose they aren’t tiny) on the review copy. Runic was kind enough to let us at it a few days in advance, so I’ve been spending every spare moment until my eyes glaze over picking up loot for my glorious Destroyer.
How is the game you ask? At the risk of In order to sound like the huge nerd I am, I shallt decree “Read on adventurer, for in Torchlight shallt thou findest what thou seeketh.”
Torchlight is great, visceral fun; it is everything I could have hoped for. At $20 this is a 100% must-buy game. It boils the best parts of the action-rpg genre down into a great little package that is easily attacked by veterans of the Diablo series and those completely new to this type of game.
For those of you not familiar, here’s an explanation. (Also you can check out our preview for more info on stuff not covered here) You are thrown into the small town of Torchlight as one of three character classes, the Alchemist, the Vanquisher and the Destroyer. Torchlight is a town, like so many others in gaming history, in which something mysterious has been going on, and of course it’s up to you to solve it. Like I wish so many other things could be solved, this mystery progresses by furious left-clicking (which of course is a normal attack), as well as queuing up powerful skills. These two things combine for a glorious effect; you slaughter countless thousands of enemies, all of which drop varying degrees of phat lewt for you to equip. If you’ve ever heard the term “loot crack” and wondered where you can get your hands on some, Torchlight is the best place.
Your class automatically gets a pet – you get to choose between a dog and a cat when you create your character. This lil’ guy can grab loot for you and run back to town to sell it while you continue bashing faces, though he also contributes in battle. There are also various fishing holes scattered throughout the game where you can grab fish to feed your pet, turning him into a different critter for a set amount of time. The actual transformation mechanic is fun and adds variety to the pet, but the fishing mechanic is really kinda…boring. If there was one thing I could pick on in the game, it’s the fishing. Waiting for the two circles to come together and clicking a button is just not really amusing. The mechanic is so minor in the game, I don’t want to make too big a deal out of it as most players will spend probably 2-3 minutes fishing…but I really wanted to see all the different kinds of fish!
In addition to the aforementioned main quest, the game offers small side quests such as “kill this guy here, or get me this item on this floor” It also has a guy who constantly opens portals to small mini-dungeons, begging you to clear them to get this item or that item. These are fine, not super innovative, but you can mostly complete them on your way to finishing the main quest line driving the game. I beg of you players to read the text from these NPC’s. It’s quite amusing, wittily written, and very dorky (I did a real life LOL at the bard-robot). All things I enjoy, and you’ll miss out if you play this game like WoW, grinding quests to get XP and the (usually crappy) loot reward without reading the bit of flavor that goes along with it.
The voice over work is generally well done in a sort of campy style that fits great within the world of the game. Crazy people sound sufficiently crazy, heroes sound sufficiently like heroes, and so on. The music is great, and will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has played the Diablo series, especially the twangy guitar while you are in town. I was going to criticize it for being too much like the music from Diablo, but hell, it’s by the same composer.
The art style in Torchlight is unmistakable, and the technical side of things behind it work to support it well. This game is not Crysis, and it doesn’t try to be. There are no shaders and no crazy bump-mapped textures; you’ll be able to play this comfortably on your laptop, probably even if it’s a few years old and is not really meant for gaming. Great for sneaking in a few hours of dungeoneering whilst on the bus or on a blind date/wedding/other gathering you don’t want to be at. Saying the game doesn’t use the latest in technical graphic technology is not to bash on the graphics, Torchlight looks beautiful and colorful, with lush environments and neat enemies. It scaled up nicely to play at 1920×1080 on my 24″ widescreen monitor, though the sprites in the action bar and on the mouse did look a bit grainy.
The main complaint I’m sure people will have is…where’s the multiplayer? Yes, I do wish I could show off my leet armor on my Destroyer to everyone else online, but Torchlight was designed to be a single player game laying the infrastructure for a future MMO. Basically, it’s a delightfully tantalizing bit of single-player-meat dropped for us while they work on the multiplayer. There are other little nitpicky things I can get into about the game, the icons of the ember gems are too small at my resolution, for example, but overall the package is great so these small things are easy to overlook. The fact that Runic put this out in little over a year builds my confidence for their future endeavors.
To sum it up, Torchlight is a blast. Little refinements, like being able to run over piles of gold to pick them up, really show the care put into making this the best iteration of an action-RPG to date. You will get WAY more than $20 worth of fun out of this title, guaranteed. I haven’t even gotten the chance to play around with the level editor that comes with the game, and I’m sure some brilliant people will come out with amazing fan-made levels in the months to come. Stop reading and log onto Steam, you can be playing this game in minutes.
Take #2 from ClassicMoments: I was really surprised when I saw Spencer’s article because few parts were just word-to-word similar, and I’m not a very good RPG player unlike he is. It plays like a classic textbook action RPG, well, because it IS (mostly) made by the classic RPG developers. But Torchlight doesn’t stop there; with fantastic features such as pet system while sticking to the RPG basics, it feels like Torchlight raised the bar, showing us what creative minds can do even with a small, low budgeted team.
They used a Rock Band microphone on a laptop, recording voices under the mattress for god’s sake! As I stated months before, I’m not a huge fan of things being too shiny, and I completely agree with Spencer on his technical analysis. I’m so glad that Torchlight doesn’t have over-done shiny shaders that make everything look as if it was licked by a cow. I just love the art and audio of Torchlight. It feels like they’re in a perfect balance, giving the players solid 60+ FPS flow.
The one thing I wish Torchlight supported is customizable keymapping. Though I had no problems with the default controls, I wonder if using a controller would change the gameplay experience. I still prefer mouse and keyboard combination, but sometimes I just feel like grabbing my controller. But nonetheless, Torchlight has one of the easiest control schemes I’ve experience with an ARPG. I really don’t see why you wouldn’t want to try this game out. Such a big accomplishment for an entire development team which was smaller than a typical QA team.