Beneath the mining town of Torchlight lurks a dark evil. You have been Chosen to explore the depths beneath this small town and uncover its secrets, in order to rid the world of the forces that corrupt the precious Ember and those who use its power.
From the creators of Diablo and Diablo II, Runic Games’ Torchlight breathes life back into the dungeon crawling, action RPG style game, bringing it from the PC to Xbox Live Arcade. Over 750,000 players have experienced it on the PC, but can this port stand up to the expectations of the console crowd?
Torchlight is your classic dungeon crawler in the spirit of Diablo II. As the hero, you accept various quests in town, and head in to the multilayered mines below to battle creatures. Along your adventures, you gather quest items and various drops from creatures, and bring them back up to the surface. An interesting addition to this game, however, is the ability to accumulate fame amongst the villagers. The more quests you complete, the more fame you accumulate. As your fame increases, you are awarded more skill points which are then applied towards your chosen character type skills.
The number of character types is more limited with Torchlight than Diablo II, with only the Destroyer (Barbarian), Alchemist (Necromancer), and Vanquisher (Amazon) classes available to play with each one outfitted with their own specialized skill sets. For example, the Alchemist has the ability to use enchanted, ranged weapons and raise minions, while the Barbarian uses melee combat items and has the ability to summon ancestral spirits to his aid. And finally, the Vanquisher’s weapon of choice is a bow and has the ability to set traps to harm or confuse enemies.
When selecting your character class at the beginning of the game, you also have a few pets to choose from. These pets serve as battle companions in the game, as well as pack mules to carry additional inventory items that you pick up during your crawls. However they aren’t much use beyond that. Most often you’ll find that your pet will go running into the middle of a horde of enemies, only to take enough damage that they’ll run off in the opposite direction, leaving you to clean up their mess.
Unlike Diablo and Diablo II, where the world spanned across many different areas and towns, there is only one town in Torchlight. And instead of moving across a sprawling landscape, you delve deeper and deeper into the mines below. The lower you go in the mines, the higher the level of difficulty. You would think that the game could very quickly become tedious and boring because of this, but you’d be wrong.
While you progress, the landscape changes as you discover and explore many different civilizations that have preceded yours, each with its own distinctive flair, keeping things new in terms of your environment. You also run into many more diverse types of monsters, allowing for the combat to continuously evolve.
Another aspect that keeps the gameplay interesting is the modular design of Torchlight’s levels. So if you finish the game as one character and decide to start a new one, chances are that you’ll find very few similarities in the levels that you played in the previous run. This helps to maintain replay value as your crawls won’t feel so monotonous by having the lay of the land memorized every time you start a new game.
But if you do feel that the game is becoming a little boring, or you just need a breather, you can always sit down at one of the few fishing holes in the game, drop in a line and see what you catch. This fishing mini-game allows you catch different kinds of fish that when fed to your pet, it will take on the fish’s attributes.
Understandably, many Diablo II fans may be reluctant to pick up this game due to the fact that, in the past, ports of games on the console have not been able to stand up to par with their predecessors that resided traditionally on the PC. For those of you who are hesitant: fear not! The control scheme has been moved over quite effectively to the Xbox controller. Game play is smooth and intuitive on the console controller, allowing you to enjoy the game, as there is no need to concentrate on a poorly designed control scheme.
There are only two real complaints with Torchlight. First, the text is a bit too small, making it difficult to read from a fair distance. This can be a little frustrating when you’re initially getting the hang of the controls and trying to figure out what does what, especially when swapping things around in the equipment menus.
Second, and most surprisingly, is the lack of a multiplayer element. This game absolutely screams to have a co-op capability at the very least. While instanced towns where you could meet with players to set up parties or trade goods would be another excellent addition. Sadly, neither the PC version nor the Xbox 360 version has anything of the like.
Runic has done an excellent job with the game itself, but it is clearly paying homage to the Diablo series. While the game has a few neat twists, what they’ve has done best with Torchlight is to use a formula that has worked superbly for years, wrapped it up in a shiny new bow, and brought it to the console where a game like this is long overdue.
Torchlight releases on Xbox Live on March 9th for 1200 Microsoft points.