Torchlight provided PC gamers with an addictive, loot-filled, distinctly Diablo-esque dungeon crawl experience when it was released in 2009. Today at Microsoft's February Games Showcase, we got to trade in the mouse and keyboard for a controller and get a feel for the soon-to-be-released XBLA version of the popular game.
Torchlight's charming, cartoony visuals appear to have made the transition to XBLA unscathed, and just as in the PC version, we were able to zoom the camera out to an overhead view that gave us a good sense of our surroundings or zoom way in for a better look at the action. We played as the destroyer, the game's fighter class, and hacked and slashed our way through swarms of the ratlins and varkolyns that infest the Orden Mines, the earliest section of the Torchlight dungeons. After a brief period of adjustment, using thumbsticks and buttons to decimate creatures of the underworld felt as natural as constant mouse-clicking. The left thumbstick controls your character's movement directly. While the PC version involved clicking on enemies to target and attack them, here, the primary target of your attacks is automatically selected based on your position, but any enemies within the sweep of your attacks are liable to take damage. Button presses let us perform our standard attacks and use our special abilities, like summoning a spectre to attack our enemies. The combat had an immediately gratifying hack-and-slash feel to it, and the left and right bumpers gave us instant access to our health and mana potions. All the controls are mappable, so you can use the configuration that you're most comfortable with.
The character and inventory screens have been significantly altered from the PC version to make them more controller-friendly, with items appearing in categorized lists for easy sorting, rather than in the slots used in the PC version. The changes seem to be for the best. It's still a breeze to compare and equip items, spend your earned points to enhance your character, or give unwanted items to your pet and send it back to town to sell them off. (Our pet was a cute little dinosaur, exclusive to this version, though the dog and cat will also be available.)
Torchlight seemed uncompromised during our brief time with it. The combination of exploration, combat, and loot should prove to be as addictive on XBLA as it was on the PC. In any case, we won't have to wait long to find out. Torchlight opens its gates to 360 owners on March 9.