This little light of mine...
First Dragon Age 2, then Two Worlds 2...and now Torchlight. This has been one magnificent time for an RPG addict to well...basically feed that addiction. I missed Torchlight on the PC until much later in its release cycle. I love Diablo and Diablo-style games so when the chance came to grab it for the Xbox 360, well, I leapt in both feet first.
There's the usual fantasy story, told time and time again, it doesn't really do much in the way of new for the narrative...but that's like expecting a Ghandi style story in a game like Borderlands. This is hack and slash, its single player story is there to drive the game's random dungeons and character archetypes quest for more loot. So yes, story is thin but that's fine.
Simple and effective gameplay marks Torchlight on both the PC and 360. The controls have been tweaked for the 360, given a level of polish and the gameplay is fun and satisfying. It will certainly appeal to Diablo fans and provides a huge amount of content spread across various randomly created dungeons beneath Torchlight Town itself. The town is a hub where you do all your shopping and return to sell loot, buy more cool equipment and get things enchanted and so on.
You have a plethora of skills and abilities that you can buy once you level up, you have 3 character archetypes to choose from. They are the: Alchemist, the Destroyer and the Vanquisher if you are curious about their names. The Destroyer is a wandering warrior; he can call on various ancestor spirits to do magic. The Alchemist is your more standard magic user class with magical powers from his focus glove. He can also summon imps and robots, which are very steampunk.
Finally the Vanquisher can fire ranged weapons, use traps and is very skilled at long distance combat.
Each character gets a pet that you can take with you into the dungeons, the pet can be transformed later on with the use of fish and it can carry loot. It can also learn spells too...just like the main character, regardless of class. The pet can also be sent off to go and sell loot back at town, which means it'll be out of action for a short while whilst it does that...a very useful feature.
When you become more powerful and finally need to retire, there's a legacy feature that's like New Game+ where a new character can inherit an heirloom item from an old one. Its things like this that I really do like and they add even more replay to the game. Talking of replay value though, once again I come to the random nature of the dungeons. The game has a series of chunks, modular bits that can be assembled to make the dungeon, these are extremely well crafted and the whole thing fits together perfectly giving you a great environment to explore and tonnes of monsters to fight.
Torchlight has some big boss battles too, full of great moments and lots of loot. You gain XP as I said before, levelling up and placing that into a series of skills that all have various benefits. You upgrade your characters stats as well, like many of the modern RPGs. There's a nice old--skool meets new thinking feel to the gameplay of Torchlight and it's accessible across the board. There are lots of little things that you discover as you play, many of them that are surprises, new gear that form epic sets of equipment as long as you have the stats to wear or use them.
It always keeps you adventuring for more loot and just to see what's a level below.
There's also the good old Town Portal and Indentify Scrolls, the former lets you zip back to town, ala Diablo and the latter allows you to ID magical items in the field allowing you to get some pretty sweet equipment and use it right away.
The game doesn't have a huge story length but the random dungeons and the 3 playable classes bring you back for more. It is well worth the 1200 msp that it'll set you back to buy.
Torchlight is colourful and it's got a great sense of character. All of the locations are extremely well designed; the themes to the various areas are excellent. The art style is definitely stylised but that's perfect for this kind of game. The use of eye-bending special effects and a bright palette for many of the locations lend it a cartoon feel that works perfectly in the context of the game's art direction. There were a couple of frame drops now and then with big spells, but nothing that really stopped the game for me. The interface is also nice with the various menus being easy to navigate and I actually loved the auto-map, that made it so much easier to adventure in the various dungeons.
Torchlight is a game that brims with love, especially when it comes down to the animations, the 3 classes are all different and I love the Vanquisher especially if you tool her up in some Gunslinger gear with a decent pistol. The various pets are cool as well, especially the wolf, I'm pretty glad the team put one of those in for obvious reasons. Combat animations are superb and so are the monster animations, with some of the big critters looking suitably intimidating.
There are a few pathfinding niggles now and then, nothing major. Your pet AI is really useful and the critter will actively engage in combat, try to cast learned spells when appropriate and basically aid you where possible. You can change the state of your pet's AI with a quick menu and even send it back to town to sell loot. Enemy AI varies and some will rush in, some will back off and flee and others will basically try and grind you into dust.
There's not much that I can say about the physics engine, it is there, it provides some nice explosions and so on.
Beautiful sound design coupled with nice spot audio, Torchlight once again oozes atmosphere in that department with the dungeons coming alive audio wise with various ambient sounds and noises.
Torchlight has some great music that fits whatever you're doing at the time, be it battling hideous monsters in the depths or exploring the town. It's a high quality fantasy theme that is whimsical at times and works perfectly within the context of the game's art direction and world design.
Voice and Dialogue
It's a pretty decent script, typical of the kind of game Torchlight is, that's not a bad thing. The voice work is decent and many of the roles have a lot of humour to them.
None, wait for Torchlight II though - it should blow us away!
Torchlight is a great game, it was great on PC and it's now on console. I am thoroughly enjoying hammering through the dungeons and watching my character grow in power as the monsters flee before her. It's good stuff and there's no game so far that's managed to capture my love of Diablo or the essence of that game, until now. I eagerly await Torchlight II and being able to adventure with my friends and XBL buddies.