Quite a while ago, my brother recommended Torchlight to me, and I had no time to check it out. Recently I have been at an all-time low of gaming motivation. Seriously, after analysing one game for so long (The Sims) I guess one’s perspective shifts – for the worse in terms of gaming enjoyment. I used to dwell a lot on the fact that most games are based on repetitive input: once you learn what exactly to do to reach a certain ending the game loses some of its appeal.
But not so with Torchlight! The game is finally a true Diablo clone, and comes with all the addictiveness as well. I know, it is repetitive in its own way, but the constant quest for better items or cooler boss monsters really keeps you going. Additionally, it was really cheap. I don’t know why I didn’t play this earlier, it’s a great deal of fun. Let’s have a look:
Torchlight plays like Diablo 2, with an environment mixture between Trine and Warcraft 3. Personally, I like the cartoony, chunky graphics. They’re quite colourful for a game mostly set underground. For that matter, the levels are really diverse as well. I haven’t finished playing it yet, although it was hard to put down, but until now, it looks great. What reminds me of Trine is the ever-glowing, 100% magic atmosphere. For its chunkiness, the levels look really mystical and immersive. Just like in Trine, there are thee available characters, a warrior, a mage and a rogue: the basics, so to speak. I really like the steampunk style of my archer chick. She can not only use bow and arrow, but also guns! Of course it’s no surprise that the game feels like Diablo, since some of its developers are the same people who worked for Blizzard. Most obvious about this is the background music, which is pretty much the same, thanks to the great Matt Uelmen.
There is one addition, of course, the pet: In the beginning the player can choose between a wildcat and a dog (it sure looks like a wolf to me), which can then be transformed into all kinds of monsters by eating fish. It sounds ridiculous when you put it like that, but it is actually a great way to bring variety into the game. The fishing itself is a little ‘game’ of fast reflexes and quite addictive. The pet is very useful as well, he runs back to town to sell your stuff (I bet the shopkeeper rips him off every time!) and helps to fight. He can also learn spells and wear rings. Bling!
The story of torchlight is simple enough, interesting, and (so far) very linear. The available side quests organise around the “bring stuff to someone” principle. There is a great number of boss monsters to wrestle with in every dungeon, and the feel of achievement when they drop good items is still one of the most motivating elements of the game. By the way, I play it on ‘hard’, and it’s still okay. I feel reasonably challenged, but I don’t run a way screaming every time a mob of spiders gangs up on me. The only times I died were when I forgot to drink potions because I was too busy taking screenshots.
Apart from being just addictive, the game seems to have a quirky sense of humor, too. One of the things that cracked me up was when it pulls a Captain Hindsight on you: the game announces “a trap has been sprung” every time some barrel just exploded in my face. Really? I wouldn’t have noticed!
What else is there to say? It’s easy to handle, intuitive for Diablo 2 players since it uses the same controls, and has many little ways to make the gameplay as fluid as possible. You can just dive into it and play. It is not the most complex or detailed game ever made, but hey, I wanted hack’n’slay, and that’s what I got.