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Denny Markovic
29 Jun, 2010

Torchlight Review

PC Review | Diablo eat your heart out.
Even if you’re not a fan of the series, admit it; Blizzard Entertainment absolutely pioneered the action-RPG genre with Diablo. At its time of release there was nothing like it around, and loot-whoring and dungeon crawling became a whole new trend that’s still hulking itself around the gaming industry today. But strangely enough, apart from Diablo II, there haven’t been many action-RPGs around like it that have managed to capture that addictive ‘feel’ associated with the genre. Titan Quest was pretty good but didn’t feel quite right, and Throne of Darkness was a nice game albeit not as appealing. But we think we finally have a game that we can say definitely captures the feel, and its name is Torchlight.

Amusingly enough, the developers of Torchlight consist mostly of ex-Blizzard employees who worked on the first two Diablo games, so it seems to be just them (now Runic Games) going back and showing everyone else how it’s done. To set the scene, Torchlight is set in a small mining town unsurprisingly named Torchlight, which was founded after the discovery of a mysterious ore under the town named Ember. This ore allows the enchantment of weaponry and the use of magical powers, however with this comes a lot of potential corruption, which becomes the primary problem in the small town. Thus, adventurers are sent in to check it out, and this is where you come into the fray.

Torchlight gives you the choice of three unique and different classes; The Destroyer, a warrior-based melee class; The Alchemist, a spell-casting, ranged class; and The Vanquisher, a ranged-based class with traps and physical attacks. All three classes give very different and interesting styles of play as you progress through the game, allowing full customisation as you level up with the skill tree and attributes section. Gameplay essentially revolves around the basic ideology of all action-RPG games; click on monster to kill, pick up loot, move through dungeon, rinse repeat. It does indeed sound awfully repetitive, but any fan of the genre knows just how addictive and enjoyable it can actually be. Dungeons are never actually the same and are always randomised, and the same goes for loot and special monsters too, so going through the game is always an unpredictable and different experience, adding an obscenely high level of replayability, especially considering the three classes to play with as well.

The Destroyer eats a Burrito, and all Hell breaks loose.

The Destroyer eats a Burrito, and all Hell breaks loose.
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And if you’re any kind of old school Diablo player, you probably already picked up on the fact that this all sounds very similar to the original classic. Well, it is. The three classes are essentially re-designed and re-thought out versions of the original Warrior, Rogue and Sorcerer classes, Dungeons, loot and special monsters are randomised and always unique, and the whole thing in general definitely feels very Diablo bar from the ultra-evil feel. And yet regardless of all its similarities, Torchlight is still a whole lot of fun and feels strangely fresh. This may be due to its many improvements featured in the mechanics, in particular the ‘pet’ you have as a companion in your journeys.

The one major gripe that action-RPGs have always had have been the fact that when your inventory is absolutely full, you have to head off back to town to sell it all off so you may continue stealing things from peoples coffins. It’s not necessarily a big issue, especially considering you have access to town portal spells, but it becomes one in the long run because there’s just that much loot that needs collecting. The pet alleviates this and quite brilliantly in Torchlight. Your pet also carries an inventory system of its own, allowing you to offload a lot of the loot you grab onto your companion, giving you more space to play with. When you do fill up however, with the press of a button you can automatically send your pet off to sell the loot while you continue to fight your way through dungeons. It works really, really well, as not only does it keep you in on the action but allows you to continue looting corpses while earning money. If only grave robbers in the real world had such luck.

Your pet is also used for another feature, which is combat. While it doesn’t necessarily do much in its normal state, pets can actually be fed certain foods that you find in the game, transforming them into hellish conjurations of destruction and terror that aid you in incinerating monsters in your path. While we found we didn’t use it that much with our Alchemist (we were feeling obscenely overpowered with some of the spells we had at our disposal), it’s a very nice addition to have that makes your pet useful for things other than selling stolen goods.

Place your bets here! The big monster, or the Cyclops?!

Place your bets here! The big monster, or the Cyclops?!
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Apart from the utterly addicting nature of Torchlight, the game also keeps you hooked with its great use of visuals. While it’s certainly no technical masterpiece, Runic Games seem to understand that having a great art style with stylish animations is far more important, and it shows. Combat is full of colour and flair, with abilities and attacks feeling appropriately powerful, and lighting and environments are used to absolutely fantastic effect. Enemy designs are also full of character and are animated very well, giving the game a very unique look. Sound is also well done in Torchlight, with powerful abilities sounding thunderous in their execution, and the squeal of burning monsters sounding devilishly satisfying. It’s all a very consistent and well-designed package that favours style over raw power, and Runic Games deliver on all fronts.

If you are any kind of fan of the action-RPG genre, or are a manic Diablo fan eagerly anticipating the third in the franchise, then you should already be buying this game without hesitation. Torchlight is an addictive, fun and memorable piece of gaming that’s definitely worth a buy, especially considering its low price. While it does lack Multiplayer for the moment (an ‘free-to-play’ MMO is in the works), and isn’t quite as expansive or long as some big-budget productions would be, it’s a damn good piece of entertainment that confidently flexes its polished muscles to the gaming public, and does it deservingly.
The Score
Torchlight is a lovingly crafted and polished action-RPG that is an absolute must for any fans of the genre, and well worth looking into from anyone else even vaguely interested.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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10 Comments
3 years ago
Just bought this then off Steam. Now I have to wait for my proper internet to come back on before I can download it icon_annoyed.gif.
3 years ago
Nice review Denny. Torchlight is a great romp, especially at its price. It will be interesting to see how it goes up against D3 when/if that's released icon_smile.gif
3 years ago
Torchlight is a little gem. Far, far smaller in scope than Diablo II + LoD expansion but for the price you can easily forgive that. It also cuts to the core and just gets on with the action.

My only annoyances were you still end up playing the 'inventory management' game far too often and it just seems too damn easy. Perhaps the latter is my fault though, as I only played it on Normal instead of something a little more challenging.
3 years ago
Oh, I can't believe hwo many people I've had to tell this to - do not bother playing Torchlight on Normal if you have EVER played Diablo, or a Diablo-like game! It's just too damned easy. Things start getting more 'playable' on the higher difficulties. It's a shame that they under-specced Normal like that, as it really seems to put people off.

I have two bones to pick with your review, Frozone:

The maps are not fully randomised, unless that's changed with a recent patch (doubtful) - the storyline ones (as opposed to portal scrolls) have a few different varients for each that cycle through, but are very much limited. I've played through the same opening dungoens (albiet sometimes at different rotations) so many times now icon_smile.gif

Also, you didn't mention that your standard pet can be buffed with magic items and taught spells - this can make it quite a worthy companion before any transformations. I personally love having a Heal All and Frost spell assigned to mine - handy dandy!

For everyone else - if this review isn't enough to convince you (and it should be!) then take my (dubious at best) word for it. Torchlight is the best of Diablo (the first one), modernised. Just make sure it's patched though, the early versions have some mad balance issues and are fairly unrefined. I wouldn't touch it before updating.
3 years ago
Karai Pantsu wrote
Oh, I can't believe hwo many people I've had to tell this to - do not bother playing Torchlight on Normal if you have EVER played Diablo, or a Diablo-like game! It's just too damned easy. Things start getting more 'playable' on the higher difficulties. It's a shame that they under-specced Normal like that, as it really seems to put people off.
I'm guessing this is a direct response to my 'annoyance'... There's no way to tell ahead of time how challenging a difficulty level will be. Comparing Torchlight's and Diablo's Normal levels, Torchlight is significantly easier, but you can't do that from a menu-select screen =P

But you are right, the low difficulty was a little disappointing. Perhaps they were aiming at a more casual gamer than Diablo though. Or perhaps they aren't any good at their own game icon_wink.gif
3 years ago
Wow. Such a late review. I had fun. Then it got samey

6/10
3 years ago
Karai Pantsu wrote
I have two bones to pick with your review, Frozone:

The maps are not fully randomised, unless that's changed with a recent patch (doubtful) - the storyline ones (as opposed to portal scrolls) have a few different varients for each that cycle through, but are very much limited. I've played through the same opening dungoens (albiet sometimes at different rotations) so many times now icon_smile.gif

Also, you didn't mention that your standard pet can be buffed with magic items and taught spells - this can make it quite a worthy companion before any transformations. I personally love having a Heal All and Frost spell assigned to mine - handy dandy!
Most of the dungeons I found to be fairly random. Apart from the story ones most are pretty different, particularly the post-end areas. I do see your point though, I haven't played through the story mode in a while, busy grinding through the end stuff!

And yes the pet spells! I completely forgot about them, probably because my Alchemist is so ridiculously powerful that I barely ever used my pet. Plus I wrote this under the guise of a fever and flu, so my memory is already tardy >_>
3 years ago
grim-one wrote
Karai Pantsu wrote
Oh, I can't believe hwo many people I've had to tell this to - do not bother playing Torchlight on Normal if you have EVER played Diablo, or a Diablo-like game! It's just too damned easy. Things start getting more 'playable' on the higher difficulties. It's a shame that they under-specced Normal like that, as it really seems to put people off.
I'm guessing this is a direct response to my 'annoyance'... There's no way to tell ahead of time how challenging a difficulty level will be. Comparing Torchlight's and Diablo's Normal levels, Torchlight is significantly easier, but you can't do that from a menu-select screen =P

But you are right, the low difficulty was a little disappointing. Perhaps they were aiming at a more casual gamer than Diablo though. Or perhaps they aren't any good at their own game icon_wink.gif
Sorry, on reading that back it sounds like I was having a go at you. Wasn't meant to. Was just trying to voice frustration at the shitty Normal difficulty, and emphasize my point so that hopefully anyone reading wouldn't go on to get stung by it. Hell, the only way I found out was by playing through a few chars to mid-point, getting frustrated, and starting Hard icon_wink.gif

Denny - Yeah, I hear ya. I figured they'd have the Alcs nerfed a little by now? Guess not! icon_biggrin.gif
3 years ago
Karai Pantsu wrote
Sorry, on reading that back it sounds like I was having a go at you. Wasn't meant to. Was just trying to voice frustration at the **** Normal difficulty, and emphasize my point so that hopefully anyone reading wouldn't go on to get stung by it. Hell, the only way I found out was by playing through a few chars to mid-point, getting frustrated, and starting Hard icon_wink.gif

Denny - Yeah, I hear ya. I figured they'd have the Alcs nerfed a little by now? Guess not! icon_biggrin.gif
Nps. Maybe that's what I should have done, discarded my progress and restarted on a higher difficulty instead of powering through the mediocre challenge =P

Alchemists are overpowered? I was playing one, so maybe that contributed to the 'easiness' too. Although my co-worker kept telling me how simple it was with his rogue (aka bowazon) too.
3 years ago
Yup this game is the original Diablo polished and loved to death. Played the hell out of it when it came out just before my birthday last year (October) and even bought it in nice boxed edition a few months ago just to show my appreciation again. Pretty much if you ever liked Diablo this is a must play. The grind does bring you down after a while but it's great while the magic lasts.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  27/05/2010 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Mindscape
Genre:
  RPG
Year Made:
  2009
Players:
  1

Read more...
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