TORCHLIGHT - PC - Review
Way, way back in the Edsel days of the era known as modern gaming, a Cadillac came along that really set the standard for dungeon-crawling role-playing games. Actually, it was more than a standard-bearer; it was the foundation, the pillars and the game everything would draw comparisons to for a long time to come.
Wait a moment … (closing the eyes won’t work, especially if reading this) … deep breath … look pious and say the name with reverence – Diablo II.
Oh, those were the days! Blissful, pure gaming, decorating dungeons with splotches and splatters, all in a vibrant red motif. Of course, there was treasure, and armor drops, and spell scrolls and health potions, and … well, it’s all pretty standard stuff. There have been any number of Diablo-esque imitators over the years. Runic and Encore have one just out, and it goes by the name of Torchlight. But however similar Torchlight may be to Diablo II (and it is very similar), it still is a very well executed game that has a graphical charm to it. The story is a rehash, certainly, but it provides more than enough impetus to blast, shoot, or hack through dungeons.
Torchlight released as a download in October 2009, but recently hit retails in boxed form. Inside is a snazzy RPG title complete with a mod editor that allows players to create their own levels.
The game revolves around the mining town of Torchlight. A valued resource, Ember, was easily mined but strange goings-on have taken place and the mine is overrun with all manner of foul and nasty creatures. Players start off selecting a character from three basic builds available. They fall into the generic categories of Berserker (tank), Alchemist (mage) and Vanquisher (ranged attacks). Although the characters are pre-built, there is some latitude as players kill, accrue experience points and level up. There are different trees where leveling points can be allocated and these bring a nice dynamic to the character and allow for minimal customization.
Additionally, like any good dungeon crawler, as the hero kills, the mobs drop all manner of items - like coins, armor, weapons, and so on. Each of the characters comes with a pet, and the pet has inventory slots available to tote items back from forays deep into the mines. There are three pets to choose from – cat, dog and ferret. The looks are mostly for aesthetics as the pets all roughly have the same function, but nuances are thrown in when the pet’s look is transformed by the type of fish you feed it.
Torchlight does provide reason to continue the excursions into the mines to get to the root of the evil infesting it. One of the first missions received is to rescue a warrior that has gone into the mines to hunt down the mage-centric individual who attacked his companion. He is pretty much a loose cannon, but nonetheless joins the player’s team and there is some decent hacking and slashing to be had for the 10-15 minutes it takes to descend a level and find the bad guy. Unfortunately, it’s all a trap and the warrior that the hero was sent to retrieve is corrupted by foul Ember and transformed into a beast that must be put down. Bad doggy-monster-thing!
Oh, and by the way, the magic used to transform soldier boy into monster tainted the hero. Find a cure or suffer a similar fate.
That’s the story in a nutshell. The rest of the game is pretty much grab a mission, descend into the mine (mobs get tougher the deeper you go), slaughter and reap the rewards, and consequently level up. Torchlight may be stock stuff, but the game is graphically a feast for the eyes. It has a cartoon quality, but is lush, bright, and well animated. The sound serves in the role of supporting cast member and does its job well.
While not overly complex, Torchlight is a solid and entertaining game that does what it set out to do - and does it well. There is enough reason to keep venturing into the mines, to level up and power up skills for maximum effectiveness, and generally it’s a good time in the best of dungeon-crawling traditions.
Review Scoring Details for Torchlight
It’s not complicated; the camera angle is fixed and there are environmental elements that get in the way, but this is a point-and-click game that plays like Diablo II.
The look of this game is rather appealing.
Nice supporting cast member; there is some voice work and the music is unobtrusive
The overall concept is not new, but this is a very well-done tribute to a style of gaming that is basic, and enjoyable.
Runic is, though, apparently working on a F2P (free to play) MMO in the same vein.
It’s not a new concept, but the execution is tight. Torchlight is a nice ride that echoes with memories of grand gaming times of the past, while using an updated style and graphic charm to keep it fresh and fun.