Torchlight Review

As posted on ButtonMasher.

Originally released on PC all the way back in 2009, it seems odd to release it on XBLA now. But there’s still time between games. The sequel is set to land this year, as well as a certain Diablo game with any luck.

I first played Torchlight in January last year after buying it in a Steam sale. It ran fine on my computer, excellent in fact considering the state of my laptop. But I didn’t end up playing much of it.

Cue 2011 and I have the XBLA version. Time for round two.

Similar to the three classes in Diablo you have; Destroyer, Alchemist, and Vanquisher. Seeing as I already played Destroyer (a melee class) I picked Alchemist this time and called him the cleverest fantasy name I could come up with: Milton. Next I chose my pet, some sort of lizard, and named him Mustang in honour of my cat who went missing last year. God rest his soul.

If you’ve played Diablo or Diablo II, you will notice the similarities straight away. Torchlight doesn’t pretend to be unique, it’s a copy-cat, or clone if you will, of the Diablo series. Several of the designers even worked on the two Diablo games. Not to mention the same composer. The town music even has the same sounding strings as the town of Tristram in the original Diablo.

It plays just like Diablo too. Quests are given out by NPCs, you enter randomly generated dungeons, use town portals, pick up equipment, sell equipment, level up, unlock skills… I could go on.

Something that is different however, are the pets. Your chosen pet follows you throughout the game and will fight alongside you. Fishing at fishing spots, will net you fish (surprising I know!). Feeding your pet a fish will temporarily transform it into a creature. Depending on the fish it could be a water monster, or yes, even a fried egg. You can send your pet off to town with all of your unwanted equipment if you’re too lazy to go back yourself. And your pet will come running back with all your hard earnings.

Normal difficulty is a little too easy. Once I got the hang of things I don’t think I died… at all. I had way too many health potions at my disposal. Sure I could’ve changed difficulties, there’s a lot of options available, but challenge frightens me, I’m funny like that. Controlling your character with the analog stick is a pleasant change compared to the OOS gained from Diablo play sessions. Coins are picked up automatically by walking over them, and tapping A when walking in range of items will pick them up. Spells are a little more fiddly. You map them to four key buttons as seen in the screens above. Then you can change these up by switching skill sets. There’s a whole lot of text when navigating menu screens, especially reading up on equipment and spell stats. I felt I had to sit closer to the screen, but that could just be my eyesight failing me – even more than usual.

Ringing in at under 200MB it’s a rather miniscule download for a game its size. And for some reason it has extremely slow loading screens. Really a minor annoyance, but when you load dungeon after dungeon, those seconds add up. Just think of all the years of loading screens you will never get back! What’s worse than that, is that without co-op you might find the game getting a little boring. Sure you can’t complain about a feature that doesn’t exist, but even the original Diablo had co-op.

Closing Comments
There’s something about Torchlight. I’m not sure what it is, but it didn’t compel me to finish it, unlike Diablo II. It just feels like something I’ve already done before.

It looks nice, it sounds nice, it even plays nice. But I felt like it was trying to fix an already great game. Diablo II is a hard act to follow. But if you want an Action RPG without the incessant clicking, Torchlight XBLA ain’t a bad choice.

If you’re put off by the lack of co-op, I recommend waiting for Torchlight II, which is the game’s selling feature.

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