Torchlight is one of the freshly announced Xbox Live Arcade titles that are part of Microsoft's House Party event set to run in February and March. The game is a conversion of the sleeper hit from developer Runic Games that served up a tasty dose of Diablo-esque dungeon exploration. We tried out a work-in-progress version of the game at Microsoft's CES press event and are pleased to say that the game looks to be making the move to the 360 in style.
If you missed Torchlight when it hit the PC in late 2009, you missed out on a fun dungeon crawler that cast you as one of three adventurers who, with a pet in tow, set out to help the town of Torchlight as it contended with an evil, corrupting force. The quest sends you exploring mining tunnels beneath the town--which are filled with enemies as well as convenient helpings of loot and gold--as you work your way to a face-off against the game's big bad guy. The game's familiar premise is complemented by equally familiar gameplay that calls to mind the best, addictive elements of Diablo with some unique extras that add to the fun.
The Xbox 360 version of the game is a smart conversion of the PC title that brings the gameplay, fantastic art direction, and rich musical score over in style. The work-in-progress version of the game we played, though not complete, was already running smoothly and looked great. We were especially impressed with the tweaks done to the game's interface, which, while different from the PC game, retained its spirit, and the controls worked out great on the 360 controller.
In terms of content, Torchlight brings the core PC game experience over to the 360 with some enhancements, although it leaves some bits behind. The single-player game has been brought over in its entirety and now features a number of different enhancements. You'll find a fourth pet (a small dragon) to choose from, new armor sets, a new quest giver tossed into the mix, achievement points, and an option to send a respect potion to a friend. The only major piece of the original game that's missing is the level editor, which, while unfortunate, isn't the end of the world considering how fun the game is. As far as any other gameplay additions go, while there isn't any multiplayer option, Runic is keeping an "open mind" with regard to DLC once the game ships.
The visuals have also made the leap to the 360 without losing much from the PC game. The original game's low system requirements have made the move to console hardware pretty easy from the looks of things. The 1080p graphics are comparable to the PC, although some tweaks to character animation are being implemented to improve the feel of combat. In our time with the game we got to level six and were impressed by how things are looking. The control makes smart use of the Xbox 360 buttons and triggers to retain the smooth feel of its PC predecessor and make the game a breeze to pick up and play. The game's HUD has seen some tweaks, along with the menu system, but all the information you need is laid out smartly and in unobtrusive fashion, so we're not seeing that there will be much to complain about in the final game.
From what we played, Torchlight is looking great and should be poised to take Xbox Live Arcade by storm. The game is ridiculously fun and addictive, so anyone hungry for some dungeon crawling should keep an eye out for it. Torchlight is slated for release during the five-week Xbox Live Arcade House Party event, which begins on February 16.