Review by OgesMC
"A very addictive and enjoyable addition to the genre!"
Torchlight is an Action Role Playing Game made by the creators of the famed Diablo and Fate games. The creator history shows, as many aspects of Torchlight are almost identical to the aforementioned games. The Xbox 360 version is a direct port of the PC one which was released in 2009. The 360 version has a few new features not available to the PC version and is an excellent adventure from start to finish.
The core combat is simple and addicting as you smash, shoot, or squash enemies quickly and with style. Torchlight is a single player game with no multiplayer support at all, which may be the only bad thing.
The controls are decent enough for Torchlight with the Y, B and triggers being hot keys for spells and pressing down on the d pad allows you to swap to a new set of Y,B, and triggers essentially giving 8 hot key slots. Switching between the two skill sets with the d pad is a bit awkward and nowhere near as fluid as say using a trigger could be but 8 is a lot better than 4. X is a standard weapon attack and A is for interacting (talking, shopping, fishing). Movement is fluid and feels really natural on the controller and all around the controls are tight and responsive besides the skill set swap mentioned above.
There are three classes to choose from in Torchlight: The Destroyer, a melee oriented class with strong close combat strength and abilities. The Vanquisher is an expert marksman, with abilities to perform well with ranged weapons and lay traps. The Alchemist specializes in summoning minions and casting spells. Each class has a unique set of three skill trees to use but there are no prerequisites for new spells in these trees except for your character being a certain level. It is always nice not to have to waste points in a fire bolt spell just to gain access to a meteor shower one for example. If you reach the level a spell requires for unlocking, all you have to do is place points in it, really simple and easy to use.
Alongside your character level is a separate stat called Fame. Your fame is a measure of your deeds and how the denizens of Torchlight see you, it can be raised by completing tasks for them, slaying champion monsters, and completing the tasks along the main plot. Fame actually grants you skill points as your fame rank increases so it is a neat system, earning an extra skill point every now and then for doing what you would do naturally in the game anyway.
Upon character creation you can choose one of three pets to accompany your character, a cat, a dog, and a lizard type critter. Your pet will follow you everywhere and can fight with you, hold items for you, and cart items to town to sell for you while you continue to adventure. Your pet can also learn spells from scrolls and can have 2 spells learned at any given time. Pet spell use seems random but a little common sense can determine good pet spells (summons and melee range area of effect spells work great). Your pet can also transform into other creature types temporarily and permanently depending on the fish they eat. By catching fish throughout the game and feeding them to your pet, you can transform it or give it combat boosts. A permanent pet transformation will always be undone if you feed your pet another fish to change to another creature, so testing a new creature type is risky if you have a permanent one as you can lose your permanent dragon or whatever and get stuck with your original pet after.
You can fish at fishing holes in town and in the dungeons. These holes look like little swirls in the water and are easy to spot. While fishing you will see a picture of a hook with a small static circle around it and another circle that moves in and out, expanding and contracting. When the moving circle lines up with the static one, both circles turn purple to signal a fish on the hook at which point you need to press A to reel in the fish. The moving circle will only stay in the "hook" zone or a short time so if you aren't paying attention and don't press A, it will start moving again and you have to wait for them to line up again. You can find all sorts of fish that benefit you and your pet, and items such as boots can come up semi often as well. The fishing system is really simple and easy to use, nothing tedious at all thankfully.
There are loads of items to be found with random stats and abilities which come in five varieties: mundane, magic, rare, set, & unique. Each higher grade item can have more modifiers and may be more powerful. Set items grant the wearer additional bonuses depending on the amount of items from the set you have equipped. Any class can use any piece of gear if they meet the stat requirements, so saving some stat points is wise at all times. You can buy items in town and there is even a character that sells unidentified items to you if you are in a gambling mood. Items with sockets can be enchanted with gems you find in the world, these gems come in grades and can be fused together (2 or 4 of the same grade) to create higher grade versions which have a stronger bonus. Identify scrolls are present and are required to identify magic and higher items so you can equip them, this may be annoying to some but it adds a certain nostalgic feeling that these games used to have.
Items can be enchanted for a price of gold, which grants random stats to an item (including more possible outright damage). Each time you enchant an item there is a chance in the form of a percent, for nothing to happen or for the item to lose all enchantments making it worthless. This chance percent rises with each successful enchantment and is shown before attempting enchantments so the more you enchant, the higher chance of failure.
The 360 version implements respec potions which allows you to reset your skill points. You can gift the respec potions to a friend at the main menu which also opens them for your characters. Once they are unlocked, every new character gets one potion and they can be bought in stores furthermore for 24,000 money. Attribute points cannot be reset at all, only skills in this way. This is a nice feature and works well in a game with so many skills to try and so little points to allocate between them early on.
Town portal scrolls are also in the game as well as a way point system so you can quickly travel between town and the different worlds. Every five floors or so there is a way point so it isn't anything too special but you can reach a certain level type to replay faster.
All in all, the gameplay is solid with a lot of nostalgic features for the long time player and easy enough for a newcomer to pick up and play.
The story of Torchlight is little more than an excuse to slaughter hordes of mindless creatures whilst stealing their treasure, so for all intents and purposes it does the job well enough. The town of Torchlight is under siege by all sorts of creatures which seem to flow from a mysterious ember which is deep beneath the town. It is up to you to assist the heroes of Torchlight, Brink and Syl, in uncovering the source. Syl is injured right off the bat and Brink runs into the Mines to avenge her. Syl asks you to follow after Brink and from there things unfold in the simple Action RPG fare of "kill this to get to point A, kill that to get to point B," and so on until you reach the final depths of the underground and find the real threat. Its hard to feel the level or progression is unlike that of Diablo, you descend floors until you reach a new environment, of which you descend more to the next. This style has proved to be tried and true and will have Diablo fans feeling right at home.
There are a few side quest givers that offer chances for fame and gold. These side quests are as simple as killing a unique creature, finding a piece of treasure, and entering portals to strange lands to find even rarer pieces of treasure. They are simple enough as mentioned, but they don't feel out of place or too tedious as they can be done right along the main adventure without any need for backtracking or the like.
Simple yet to the point, and we all need a reason for the mindless slaughter...
The graphics in Torchlight are really pretty to look at and everything has a nice amount of detail to it. The overall style is a cartoon type style which enables more bright and vibrant options. That is not to say you wont be delving deep in dungeons and caves, as you will indeed, they are just brighter and more full of life than you would picture a dungeon or cave to be. It is not a bad thing at all, and offers some really nice looking landscape styles.Character models are especially nice to look at, with changes to appearance taking place as you change gear or weapons. Weapons with ice or fire effects will shimmer in ice or have swirling flames about them for example, nice touches. Creature designs work really well with the cartoon style graphics as many look like something straight from a comic book and there was much more room for creativity in their design.
During the main story, you will adventure through many locals from forest ruins, to deep mines, to lava strewn wastes, and these backdrop designs change every few floors to keep the scenery fresh. Each environment is detailed in each own right and all are pretty to look at, the lava bubbles and the water shimmers, even little ambient creatures like frogs and snakes creep around. Lots of detail goes into the landscapes and the graphic style really shines in that end.
Skill and spell animations can be especially impressive, many are quite flashy and show off the creativity of the designers. Spells will swirl and track your target as particles and flame ember float through the air building up to the explosion or eruptive climax of the spell. A real treat. Blood splatter and slime effects are present and done in standard Diablo fare, if you squish an enemy, blood or slime gushes out and splashes onto the floor.
The music of Torchlight seems to fit the title well, and each respective area. The town music is especially pleasant, representing a humble gathering of huts, making your trips to town almost relaxing and not so much a chore as in most games. There is voice acting for the main quest line and main character classes and it is done well for the most part, though it can be a bit cheesy at times. Spoken phrases such as your character saying "I'm hurt!" when your health is really low or the narrator saying "You have sprung a trap" get a bit annoying if you lose health and spring traps often. No big gripes. Weapon and spell effects are done well also, swords clang and bows twang, whilst fireballs will sear through the air and explode (with those respective noise effects).
My only real problem with the sound is the lizard pet if you choose it, it makes annoying little noises very often that make you wish you snagged the dog instead! A select few pet transformations have annoying sounds as well, these are minor inconveniences at best though.
REPLAY VALUE: 9/10
The main quest line (with the side quests done alongside it) of 35 floors on normal difficulty can be finished roughly at around 10 hours play time. After completion of the main game however, you unlock a special "shadow" vault which is a dungeon open to all further characters with infinite floors and it's own side quests. This alone makes for excellent replay value, as you strive to build your character and treasure trove, or just see how far you can get.
Hardcore mode also adds replay. If you choose to make your character a hardcore one, it has but one life and is deleted upon death. Countless hours could be spent perfecting strategy and play style in an effort to tackle the harder difficulties with a hardcore character.
If you enjoy the genre and especially games like Diablo this is a wonderful game which should not be passed up!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/21/11
Game Release: Torchlight (US, 03/09/11)
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