Torchlight Review

Enjoyable combat and a great loot system make this hack-and-slash role-playing game hard to put down.

It may have taken a while, but Torchlight has made it to the Xbox 360. This hack-and-slash game debuted on the PC back in the fall of 2009 to raves about its fantastic re-creation of the classic Diablo clickfest formula, and the nearly identical Xbox Live Arcade take on the game is every bit as hard to put down. Combat is fast and bloody, loot drops are plentiful and varied, and the overall production values are rich with cartoonish visuals, as well as a catchy soundtrack that will keep you humming tunes long after you have shut down the game. Only the absence of multiplayer keeps the game from reaching the heights of its action-oriented role-playing-game rivals.

Anyone with experience in action role-playing will find few surprises in Torchlight. This is a follow-up to Runic's Fate games, which in turn mimicked the old Diablo franchise. The main difference is that the gameplay is single-player only, so multiplayer fans need not apply here. Plot is a very thin device about evil thoughts and evil doings beneath the tiny medieval burg of Torchlight. This mining town has hit hard times due to problems with its deposits of a magic-generating ore called ember. Tainted ember has corrupted creatures in the mines below the town and has even caused a white-hat adventurer named Alric to embrace his inner bad guy. So, as expected, you join up with a requisite hot fantasy babe who used to run with Alric and descend into the depths of the mine to kill everything you see.

Adventurers are chosen from just three classes: the destroyer (fighter), the vanquisher (ranger/thief), and the alchemist (mage). All are traditional RPG heroes, with some minor steampunk tweaks like the vanquisher shooting guns in addition to bows, and the alchemist being able to summon robots, as well as cast more traditional incantations. There aren't any options for customizing characters at the start of the game other than coming up with a name, although a fair bit of depth is added later when leveling up. Core stats like strength and magic are boosted with skill points, and further points are spent to purchase such special attributes as souped-up attacks, a range of stat buffs, various magical gimmicks, and the like. You even start the game with a pet dog, cat, or dino that can be morphed into a more useful ally, like a troll courtesy of magic fish that can be caught at select water holes in the dungeons.

Great lighting and spooky dungeons give Torchlight a lot of atmosphere.

Controls have nicely made the transition from the mouse and keyboard of the PC to the Xbox 360's gamepad. Basic controls are mapped to the buttons and triggers, while the right stick is used to zoom in and out on the action. Some aspects of the inventory have been tweaked to better accommodate the gamepad, with slots for individual items dumped in favor of a simpler stacking option where you can hold a set number of each type of equipment. You don't even have to worry about equipping valuable items like health and mana potions in quick slots because the game does it for you and assigns them automatically to the shoulder buttons. It even scales up as you start grabbing bigger and better versions of these elixirs, and it makes the best possible version of each potion in your inventory the default.

Of course, the story and setup in Torchlight amounts to little more than an excuse to send a fantasy hero off to slaughter thousands of monsters, play medieval UPS man on quests, and acquire swords, magic rings, potions, spells, suits of armor, and the like from loot drops. Still, even though everything is formulaic, that formula is adapted extremely well. Torchlight excels in virtually every area, save innovation. The single-player-only campaign is a good seven or so hours long and packed with nonstop action. Battles fly by because most monsters take no more than a few attacks to kill. Even the bosses can generally be toasted in reasonably short order here. Game pace never drags due to monsters that take forever to kill. Monster types are also mixed up just enough to keep you intrigued.

You take on standard fantasy goons like plague-spewing undead, giant spiders, and goblins, but there are also weirder creeps like pygmies, tree creatures, balls of light, and fungus-covered myconids. Bosses are given goofball names as well, like Slag'Zanik the Cunning and Poisonflinger the Great, which adds character to the massive melees. Loot drops are sprinkled with new items to keep you interested in searching corpses. Weapons, armor, and magical accoutrements, like rings, are widely varied and come with a long list of bonuses and enchantments, keeping you continually upgrading your hero with new stuff. While in town you can even pay to add extra magical effects and increase abilities further by popping ember stones into sockets on many weapons and pieces of armor.

Varied loot drops, along with a strong character development system and skill trees, make it easy and fun to customize your hero.

Torchlight has a sense of humor, so even spreading guts and gore all over the dungeon walls feels much less grim than it might sound. Art style has been taken from Saturday-morning cartoons, with both characters and monsters boasting outlandish attributes, such as Popeye-like forearms and Russian-doll eyes. Everything here is exaggerated, from huge spin-o-rama killing blows that shower blood to monster pygmies that can leap across the screen like Batman. Randomly generated dungeon levels are also striking in appearance. Waterfalls, claustrophobic mine shafts, flowing lava, ancient palaces, and mossy ruins are just some of the picturesque locales that you visit.

There is a lot of color here, courtesy of the smart use of lighting and the massive pools of blood you leave behind after every fight. The dungeons are also constructed out of what appear to be floating platforms, so the claustrophobia of being deep underground has been mitigated by always being able to see areas of the levels below. The outstanding original score is even more memorable than the visuals. The tunes cover a range that is all over the musical map, including tension-building piano, dramatic Lord of the Rings-style military marches, and a set of progressive rock tunes. This is one of those game soundtracks that resonates in your head long after you have finished playing.

Torchlight might not break any new ground, but it remains an inspired reimagining of the hack-and-slash RPG formula. While the lack of multiplayer might keep it out of the big leagues for some players, it is still a great solo dungeon crawl with the ability to eat up a lot of your spare time.

The Good
Great refinement of the hack-and-slash RPG formula
Evocative visuals with varied and colorful dungeon settings
Impressive loot system
Wide range of monsters and bosses to battle
Brilliant musical score
The Bad
No multiplayer
Does very little that's new
8
Great
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Discussion

10 comments
BarkingSpider81
BarkingSpider81

I was wondering where all the good Diablo developers went.

nate1222
nate1222

I own Torchlight for PC via GOG download, and love it. A true gem of a dungeoun crawler and proof that the genre still has alotta great stuff to offer.

Vraeth
Vraeth

Great game. SP wise it's better than D2.

 

I'd say even better than MP, except it doesn't have any, but D2's is garbage anyway.

HateClick
HateClick

Good for its price. But even a free mmorpg gave more than ten classes to choose from in which could be in terms of sub-classing , consecutive class options or class building . The skill tree in this game is very simplified , if only it had at least twice as much skill options , it would have been a great game . Three classes , was all it gave , kinda felt like a joke there.

Combat was relatively repetitive , nothing of a challenge and no surprises . But like I said , it was cheap . A 6.5 would do for this game at most.

bahamutzzzz
bahamutzzzz

hater gonna hate.

 

For its price, TL is still good game. Of course if you compare it with Diablo 2, Diablo 2 is better but TL is very good single casual game. It is made by Diablo developers. It is enjoyable if you like dungeon crawler game.

 

you can view it as mini-DIablo 2 series. Maybe some dislike it, but the game is good considering its cheap price

forthefunofit
forthefunofit

OH  and btw...no challenge < easy targets> does not a engaging game make. I cont' care how CUTE the toons/areas are,,I want challenge not dumbed down. If they are targeting diablo here, they could have done a TON better in that regard. Diablo gave you a reason to continue. Art style as here was a factor, but you knew the challenge was worthy of your effort. I also see no mention at all < fanboyism much ?> of the horrible camera system in this game making it impossible to see certain things once you are in a corner. Diablo never caused that problem. Seven hours huh...what a joke; diablo was 10 times that long. NOthing to see here, moving right along.

forthefunofit
forthefunofit

WHy is it so kewl, to talk about 'massive pools of blood' ? Is that some gamer creed, that witout, a game is somehow less than ? I just don't get this fixation on blood in games. Is creativity gone or are people just getting more violent I wonder...HM ?

forthefunofit
forthefunofit

 @corian57 Yes, and unlike your fanboyisms, at least I come out with  specifics about why I don't like Torchlight. Yes I bought it for a ridiculously small amount of money on steam a few months back, but that doesn't mean Im enjoying it. To be fair, the visuals are nice in places, but often the fight is far easy, short of some bosses. I really can't stand, as I said in prior minireview, that you can't see whats going on when in corners or around sides of things. That never happens in Diablo that I can recall, and most def. never in Diablo 3. 

 

I realize TL2 for $20 prob. is  a great deal, but I don't like not having a rmah/gah/ah because then I have to rely on getting cheated by someone, I STILL can't stand having to see 'through' walls as its Very oddly disconverting and still not half as good as the amazing job Diablo 3 does. Diablo 3 has far superior visuals given its visuals as  a whole.

 

Call me a fanboy, but at least I have specifics.

 

If someone gave me a copy of TL2,I'd def. not say no, but at this juncture at least for me, there is a lot I don't like about it. If they address them in a patch, then we'll see.

Torchlight More Info

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  • First Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • Xbox 360
    Randomly generated dungeons and loot await in this action role-playing game from a team of ex-Diablo developers.
    8.3
    Average User RatingOut of 3737 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    Runic Games
    Published by:
    JoWooD Entertainment AG, Encore Software, Inc., Mastertronic, Runic Games, Perfect World Entertainment, Tradewest, Microsoft Game Studios
    Genres:
    Action, Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Violence