Gaming My Way

21 Apr

Torchlight Review

Well, I just recently got my hands on Torchlight. And let me tell you, for twenty dollars, this game is a steal. Yeah, it uses the same random dungeon below town level design from the original Diablo. But really, that’s ok. The graphical and aesthetic designs of all the floors are excellent and quite varied, and it’s quite vibrant looking. But that isn’t the important part of the game. Just the looks.

The game has three character classes, who fit the common archetypes of the Warrior, Rogue, and Mage, but with a bit of twist. They’ve been redubbed the Destroyer, Vanquisher, and Alchemist, respectively. And each class has some overlap with the others through their skills, which allows you to build characters that are hybrids of the traditional roles with a great level of ease. Add in spells that can be learned by anyone in addition to the class specific skills, and you end up with a game that, even though there are character classes, allows you to do a great deal of customizing when building your character.

The story is pretty cookie-cutter, but it does it’s job of motivating the game. In a nutshell, there’s an ancient evil below the town of Torchlight. As the hero, it’s up to you to investigate and stop it. Done.

Now, the click-fest fighting, on the other hand, is actually like nothing I’ve seen in an action rpg before. Yeah, Diablo and Diablo 2 had click-fest fighting. But not like this. You will be swarmed, charged, and ambushed. You will uses aoes, regardless of class, to decimate hordes of enemies and watch them go flying before you, only to be replaced with more than you just wiped out. In short, you will be awesome, but the hordes of monsters will keep up with you and drag you down if you aren’t careful.

On another, more mechanical note on the fighting, if you liked the way hotkeys worked in Diablo 2, you can assign hotkeys to F1-F12 and switch between them just as you did in that game. However, there is also the option to assign them to hotkeys 1-0, in which case pressing the button uses the skill. I much prefer the second way, but anyone who likes the other method is free to use it.

All characters also have a pet who fights with them, who can also be sent to town to sell junk you don’t want to keep lugging through the dungeon. They can also learn spells to cast in combat, which is very handy to have. The most useful bit is not needing to leave the dungeon until you want to go back to town to turn in quests or buy more swag.

Once you finish the game, there is also an infinite dungeon, the Shadow Vault, which is basically more of the same gameplay, at a level of difficulty appropriate to your character level. There are quests to do every floor, so those who like something to do will certainly have it. No bosses in the Shadow Vault though, so champion monsters will be the toughest you can hope for in the base game. There are plenty of champions, however.

You can also retire a character upon finishing the game, which gives you a chance to build a new character and gift them a single item from the retiring character. This item is called an heirloom, and it gains more power than it had before and has less stringent requirements for it’s use. Passing the same item down many times will make it very powerful and easy to use, though most of the benefits do cap at some point from what I’ve read.

The one thing I wasn’t impressed with was the load times. For such a small game (about 400 MB), it takes a long time to load. I’ve actually taken to browsing the internet while the game turns on and dungeons load. I usually make it 3/4 of the way through a moderate length article during a given load. Still, while annoying, it’s a minor gripe in an otherwise great game.

Finally, there’s the modding scene. Not enough content for you? Modders can make new classes, new pets, new items, new levels, new npcs, and completely new campaigns linked to the town of Torchlight. They can build standalone static levels or work them into the random level generator. They can tweak xp, fame, and gold, boost the level cap, change what you get on level up, and anything else they want. The GUI can be changed, and there are even texture packs to increase graphics quality, or in the event your computer doesn’t meet the already very low system requirements, texture packs to reduce graphic quality to boost your framerate. Absolutely everything can be changed or added to, and you can probably find a mod to bring the game closer to what you would like.

So, as you can tell, I think Torchlight is a game that’s definitely worth playing for anyone who likes action rpgs, and it might even convert a few new players to the genre. When I’m looking for some action rpg fun, I’ll be coming back to this for quite awhile.

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