Torchlight

Torchlight was billed as being created by the people who made Diablo 1 and 2. That made no difference to me, I never played either and have no idea how the RPG system works. I have quite a background in RTS, played all the CNC Series (Tiberium & Red Alert, even Generals) and the Age of Empire series. I do also take an interest in FIFA having played everything from FIFA 99 to 12, and some football manager (formerly called Championship Manager). After playing some FPS in CounterStrike and Battlefield, I was a World of Warcraft player for a good 3-4 years. While World of Warcraft is a MMO-RPG, my first try of a RPG in Oblivion backfired. It felt lonely and boring since my only RPG experience was MMO based. Torchlight came across as a friendly simple short game, so I gave it a go.

Simple Mechanics

Compared to the constant min maxing and mathematical calculations involved in optimizing WoW, Torchlight is way simpler. You navigate with simple clicking and have not more than 5 main abilities to use. Generally, you end up using only 2 until a boss fight occurs. This is a dungeon crawler smash and grab game. Run into a pack of monsters, smash them to bits and get the loot. There are 35 levels in the story and once you complete that there’s an endless mode. I’m not sure if there’s a level cap but you can definitely go up to at least 100. This game shines because its easy to enjoy, the barrier to entry is nearly non existent. It’s control, inventory and combat system can be easily picked up.

Story

Torchlight is a little town that houses a huge mine holding a material called Ember. This substance is valuable and the town basically mines and crafts stuff out of it. However, the mine has been rumbling and lower levels of the mine are swarming with monsters. It is said that an evil power at the bottom of it is corrupting the ember veins, causing miners and other inhabitants to go insane. This power is referred to as Ordrak – suggesting a large powerful monster. A famous explorer/adventurer/hero called Alric has gone before you to explore but has disappeared only sending a note to his apprentice Syl. As you enter the game you witness Syl and her friend get attacked by a monster who makes off with her pal. She asks you to go and aid him. And that begins your descent into the mines.

The story holds at most only a twist or two and is fairly striaght forward. There’s nothing really special about it. It is the ease of combat and the rampaging through that make this little product from Runic Games shine. You can play as 3 classes, a melee class, caster or summoner. Obviously I played the melee class having come from a 4 year warrior experience in WoW. However, each class has 3 specialization trees that you can mix and match from (so it is not exactly a tree). A melee class can spec to go range, dual wield or go with a classic sword and board. It allows you to play exactly how you like whatever class you may choose.

Strengths

  • Simple combat and quick gratification as previously covered.
  • Excellent art style. I’m a sucker for cartoony styled games (read: TF2, WoW)
  • Well thought inventory system. Having a pet return to town to sell stuff for you made managing the inventory really easy.
  • Fight mechanics. Boss fights were interesting enough but not difficult to the point you need prior research and planning.
  • Great value for its low price.

Weaknesses

  • Scope. There’s little else you can do besides going down the dungeons and popping a endless streams of bad guys. There are minor gems and enchants but those are more luck based then anything. Finishing the story mode, you are motivated a little to dig deeper for better loot but that’s about it. I bet I won’t go pass the 50th floor.
  • No multiplayer or co-op. This is purely single player.
  • No respeccing. When you choose to spend your skill and talent points, do it knowing there’s no undo. That said this game is forgiving to the point that speccing wrong won’t really harm you.
  • No remapping of keys. For a RPG, you would expect them to allow key remapping. Thankfully, my G700 mouse could remap externally. Else I would have been stack with 1 to 0 for abilities.

A Polished Indie Game

While it does only one thing, it does it really well. If you want to have some simple fun in short bursts, this is the game to go for. It doesn’t need a high time investment yet it returns great entertainment. Torchlight 2 is in the works with a multiplayer feature. Till then you’d be alone with your pet smashing your way to greater loot.

Smashing Ordrak

Smashing Ordrak



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