Torchlight (PC) review
"Your first step into Torchlight will put to rest your worries or quell your doubts. The rich art style with appropriately used earthy colors and a darker, grimmer setting tell you that this is a far cry from Fate's somewhat confused atmosphere. Where the latter is cartoony and a tad happy-go-lucky forced into the same bed with violence, blood-letting and terror, Torchlight is consistently dark and moody. It doesn't pretend to be My First Diablo Clone, but knows what players are looking for. It shows the level of detail that Runic Games put into this game, and that they really wanted you to come, stay and get cozy."
My aching, game-lusting mind was still itching for a Diablo clone. I was tight on cash and grimacing from the sour taste Fate left. I still eyed Torchlight, mostly because it fell into my then-sought-after criteria, mostly because I'd read a fair amount more praise for it than for Fate. Yet still the painful memories of Fate came back to me: the fun it provided at first, the way it addicted you, became boring, and then let you down when you felt like you couldn't just give up on the game, the arduous hour spent clicking for little to no gratification like a sick junkie developing a resistance to his juice.
I was still hunting my purple dragon, and there it stood before me for a mere $20. Time to bite the bullet and spend about two hours of pay (after taxes, of course) on hopefully many more hours of fun.And a savvy investment it was. Torchlight helped me catch that purple dragon and put a rusty sword through its throat and finally give me a sense of closure.
Your first step into Torchlight will put to rest your worries or quell your doubts. The rich art style with appropriately used earthy colors and a darker, grimmer setting tell you that this is a far cry from Fate's somewhat confused atmosphere. Where the latter is cartoony and a tad happy-go-lucky forced into the same bed with violence, blood-letting and terror, Torchlight is consistently dark and moody. It doesn't pretend to be My First Diablo Clone, but knows what players are looking for. It shows the level of detail that Runic Games put into this game, and that they really wanted you to come, stay and get cozy.
Your first experiences with the natives are not much different from Fate. An aging wizard gives you the lowdown and you march your customized character, built from one of three classes (the same warrior, rogue, mage classes you see in every similar game, only renamed Destroyer, Vanquisher, and Alchemist, respectively), further into a dark abyss teeming with the same giant spiders, goblins, demons and just about everything from every other point-and-click bestiary, except with an almost-steampunk spin.
It's intuitive and familiar, but not so much been-there-done-that as welcome-back-we-missed-you. It uses all the same elements and devices we all know and love like hordes of undead minions clawing at your warm flesh with one lone shaman to resurrect them or behemoth mini-boss “champions” with an orbiting swarm of powered-up minions to add peril and challenge and sweeten the experience. Battle is no different. Click them to death, use skills, gain levels, allocate skill and attribute points, become more powerful, and find new items will long ridiculous names.
Fate gives you little reason to keep pushing forward other than throwing new enemies at you occasionally. Torchlight sends all manner of beasties, some of them gigantic and monstrous. It's awesome just to behold them, especially so once you get a little further along and fight a boss battle. Yes, this game has bona fide bosses and not just glorified enemies with ridiculous names like the fabled Goblinlicker. Your opponents are a colossal psychotic wraith called The Overseer, a giant simian beast with crystals jutting from its back, a mighty goblin champion with a giant spiked club and iron-tough hide... Again, evidence that the developers spent more time on the loving details of the game.
Survival is largely dependent on the kind of character you create. If you're not so adept at building characters, then perhaps you're in the wrong arena. Build something meaner, though, and you can practically cheese your way to the finish.
Unlike Fate, there seems to be a greater depth to what you can do with a character. The skills screen features different tabbed sections for different sub-class types. A Vanquisher, this game's long range attacker who relies mostly on dexterity, has three different skill tabs: Marksman, which focuses on long range attack skills; Rogue, which works with knives and gains short range skills; and Arbiter, which works with magic. It's like having a dual class, giving you the blueprints for different types of classes within the classes themselves.
If there's one place in which Torchlight soundly trounces Fate, it's in the details. Fate was basically Diablo without a plot. You know very little about the world your character inhabits. There's no mythology to be told like in Diablo, nor is there any back story or side story or any story, really. The premise is that your character is a random citizen who aspires to become a hero by slaying monsters in a vastly deep dungeon. There are no developments or twists, you are simply tasked with killing a random monster turned final boss and that's that. Torchlight carries the torch of Diablo; yes, horrible pun intended. It has a story, adequate but not brilliant; it has details and back story--even a mythology. Possibly the best part of Torchlight's plot is the subtle back story involving the levels in which you travel, and finding out that they are all ruins of different civilizations, and even finding out why those civilizations went to ruin and discovering the awful truth hidden below the city you wish to save.
It isn't quite the perfect package. There's no denying the repetition involved and the lack of challenge. Most enemies will succumb to the same strategies. All that might be required of you is to click like mad and go for the skills that target multiple enemies or have splash damage. The Vanquisher has a couple, like a shot that can tear through enemies in a line or a fireball attack that does massive damage to enemies in a given radius. All the while you're provided with an opulence of potions or money to buy potions, and you'll almost never find that you don't have access to them. While it may be empowering to be so powerful, it can also demean the fun at certain points. The only challenge to be had is by intentionally hampering yourself, but I suspect most of you won't do that.
Oh, and pets are back, giving you the choice of a dog, a cat or a ferret. Same story as with Fate, they level up independently and collect items for you, but transformation items only last a temporary length of time.
Torchlight is not by any means a spectacular game or a major A-list title. It's an inexpensive Diablo clone that does just enough right to be a fun, addictive and stylishly beautiful game. It's very well worth the mere $20 price and is far and above recommended over lesser clones like Fate and Depths of Peril. It's amazing what a few small details like a basic plot, better objectives, and a more expanded world can do for a game rather than just taking the bare bones approach Fate did. If you're a Diablo fan looking for a separate experience, give Torchlight a try.
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (February 16, 2011)
Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.
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