Review of Torchlight
by Brandy Cross
Early in January I was shopping (for groceries) when I happened to wander into the video game store (oops). From there I quickly found the sale section and noticed one ‘Torchlight’ for PC. I wasn’t going to purchase it at first. In fact, I almost didn’t even pick it up in favor of Skyrim vs. Elder Scrolls which was lying next to it. But I did pick it up, and although the front cover and the description on the back cover were not hugely inspiring, one thing did catch my eye. Torchlight is made by Runic games.
A Brief History of Blizzard North
To understand why this is important, let’s go back a bit further. In 1993 a group of game developers formed a game studio called Condor Studios. This studio worked on some of the best games ever made (in my opinion) including Diablo. The studio was later bought out and re-named Blizzard North (which is a name that everyone knows thanks to Diablo I, Diablo II, and more recently the WoW ripoff that is Diablo III, as well as the entire World of Warcraft series. The team who formed Condor Studios formed Flagship Seattle where they worked on Hellgate London and Mythos. When they dissolved in 2008, two of those members went on to form Runic Games. Being partially responsible for some of my favorite PC games, I couldn’t resist the urge to make the purchase.
Initial Impressions: Is Torchlight a Diablo II Rip-off?
As a Diablo fan, my first impression was that this game is essentially a paired down version of Diablo II. From the game load screen to choosing and naming a character and then getting started, everything was familiar, and easy to play mainly because gameplay and style are exactly the same as Diablo II. With only three characters available, no expansion, and only one disc to play on, Torchlight is sort of like a limited Diablo II. Despite, or perhaps because of, that, I kept playing and after about 50 hours of play since then, have decided to write a review of Torchlight.
Torchlight gameplay is exactly like Diablo II. First, you get to choose from three characters including Destroyer, Alchemist, and Vanquisher. The Vanquisher is a female, so I chose her (obviously). While each character is uniquely suited for certain types of attacks, any character can develop their skills in any direction which allows the character to be more versatile. I have however found that the Vanquisher works best with her intended ranged weapons so I mostly stick to those. You can gain a maximum of 100 levels and 55 fame.
You also get to choose a pet which can be a cat or a dog. Feeding the pet a fish will give it unique properties for a certain amount of time (usually 30 to 90 seconds). The pets will attack with you, can take your stuff to town to sell it, can be equipped with rings and jewelry, and can even use up to two spells of your choice.
Attack modes are standard multiple enemy against one player although you will be joined by occasional NPC characters from time to time. Standard weapons range from hack and slash swords, axes, and hatchets to long range weapons like guns, crossbows, and bows. These are extremely versatile, easy to come by, and actually quite affordable from the NPC stores.
Gameplay options include Easy, Normal, Hard, Very Hard, and Hardcore.
Note: Don’t play on easy unless you want enemies to line up and wait for you to slaughter them.
The storyline is where my Torchlight review goes wrong. The story is thin, poorly written, and really is only there roughly hold together a string of dungeon exploration quests. Essentially the entire plot revolves around Ember which is a magical substance pulled from the ground that can imbue magical power to items and people. It also causes corruption in those who are exposed to it.
Torchlight revolves around you, the main character, being directed on a range of quests by the female mage Syl (she’s nicer if you mute her), who is searching for the Alchemist Alric. The plot basically features fighting your way down through the dungeon to find an ancient civilization and the source of the embers corruption.
There are also multiple side quests that are just as much, if not more, fun as the main story line.
My review of Torchlight is overall quite high. Despite having a poor story, the game is engaging, fun, and a great dungeon crawl. If you’re in to modding, you can also download TorchED and actually modify everything about the game as you see fit (although you might have trouble adding in more plot).
If you run through the game as quickly as possible, it takes about 10 hours to play from start to finish. If you take the side quests and explore every inch of the dungeon, Torchlight takes about 40 hours to play.
Needless to say, if you need a game to have a great story than Torchlight is definitely not for you, if you don’t mind, then it is a great dungeon crawl that will give you hours of fun. You can also replay the game with different characters for a slightly different experience. No it’s not quite up to Blizzard North quality standards, but it is a lot more true to the ‘Diablo’ style of playing that Diablo III. Overall, I would say that my review of Torchlight is definitely positive and its worth a go, especially if you catch it on sale on Amazon or in game stores.
Download the PC version here.