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Video Game Review: Torchlight

March 6, 2011 | By Herija Green | comment on this post
Torchlight
It’s gonna take more than rain to wash these spiders out.

Microsoft’s House Party promotion gets its fourth installment with Torchlight from Runic Games. Originally released on PC back in 2009, the hack n’ slash action RPG is getting a second life on Xbox Live Arcade. The transition is undoubtedly a smooth one, even if your hours hunting loot are still destined to be undertaken alone.

CONTROLS (4.5/5)

Runic Games handles the always iffy proposition of transferring a PC setup to console nicely as combat is second nature and item management works well enough. Each character has a basic melee attack (X) and a button to pick up items (A). Beyond that, you’re able to map four spells/abilities to the remaining triggers and face buttons — press the d-pad up/down for two sets totaling eight slots. The camera is fixed, leaving the right stick to zoom in and out only.

GRAPHICS/SOUND (3.75/5)

Although Torchlight is a good looking game, the number of enemies and constant spell effects filling the screen don’t give you much of a chance to admire it. Zooming in does reveal some respectable detail work in the environments and enemies, but considering how difficult it is to keep track of things when you’ve got the camera pulled all the way back, it’s unlikely you’ll even bother. There is some slowing here and there when things really get out of hand. It’s never too bad, though.

Each of the game’s settings (separated by a boss battle and ensuing waypoint) has a distinctly different look to them. However, they all “feel” the same. That’s not surprising given the dungeons’ randomly generated nature, but it can get tiresome to see the same formula of branching paths and bridges throughout the levels.

The musical score in Torchlight is respectable, as is the sparse voice acting. The sound effects don’t fare nearly as well as there just isn’t much variety relative to the amount of time you’ll spend hacking and enflaming hordes of enemies. Repetitive is one thing, annoying is another, and the near constant whimpering of your pet or the in-game voice informing you for the umpteenth time that said pet is fleeing definitely falls into the latter.

GAMEPLAY (4.25/5)

While Torchlight certainly has its share of virtues, the story is not one of them. What minimal plot exists is told mostly via screens of text. Essentially the town of Torchlight was built above a series of ember mines — ember being a valuable ore with magical properties. However, the ember is having a corrupting effect, leaving the town in extreme peril. Now it’s up to you (created from among three character classes) to investigate the subterranean realm and cleanse it of evil.

Along the way you’ll collect loot, lots and lots of loot, the pursuit of which is truly the driving force behind the game. Like the dungeons, loot drops are purely random, and you’ll identify/sort through an amazing amount of sub-par items to find that one game-changing weapon or piece of armour. But when you do, somehow all that effort seems worthwhile.

Armour, weaponry and jewelry are all tiered. For example, orange items are unique, purple items are part of a set (the more of which you equip, the more bonuses you get), green items are enchanted and so on. In addition, many items contain slots that your collected ember can be inserted into. These provide even more enhancements, and as you progress you’ll find your equipment will often have a laundry list of augmentations to things like health, armour, elemental resistance, attribute bonuses and more.

Of course no self-respecting dungeon crawler would be complete without the arcane, and Torchlight delivers a healthy selection of spells as well. Some you’ll find or purchase, while others will be unlocked through the use of skill points you’ll earn each time you level up. Within the list of available spells you’ll find plenty of offensive and defensive options along with some cool summons.

Regardless of whether you choose to begin your adventure as an alchemist (wizard), destroyer (warrior) or vanquisher (ranged specialist), you’ll have lots of options as to how to progress and grow your created character through the distribution of attribute points, unlocking of skills and collecting of items. You’ll also have a faithful pet by your side that can equip jewelry, learn spells and even be transformed by consuming fish. All of which adds a good deal of replay value.

Combat in Torchlight can get pretty repetitive. Sure, you’ll do some planning — more so as the ranged/magic classes — but when groups of enemies inevitably close the distance on you, the screen often becomes a muddled mess where spamming “X” and keeping an eye on your health meter are all you can really do. This rarely bothered me as the hunt for items and my character’s growth into a legitimate bad ass kept me engrossed. Others, however, may crave more variety.

Perhaps the biggest drawback is that, like its PC predecessor, Torchlight on Xbox Live is purely a single-player affair. That lack of multiplayer support (local and online) is going to ruffle some feathers. I’d like to think the game’s fun factor and addictive qualities more than compensate for the omission, but I’m sure for some it constitutes a deal breaker

OVERALL (4.25/5)

Easy to grasp and hard to put down, Torchlight is a shining example of a genre we console gamers don’t get to see very often. Action RPG fans should take one look at the 1,200-point asking price and laugh all the way to the bank… the blood bank.

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252 Responses to “Video Game Review: Torchlight”

  1. Wuvein says:

    Think I would have to go with Destroyer

    @wuvein

  2. SpaceBabs says:

    I would play as the Alchemist :) I like Mages and Wizards in RPGs :P

    @SpaceBabs (Tweeted also)

  3. OmegaLiquidX says:

    I’ll be rocking the Destroyer.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Ill be using the alchemist

    twitter- @jeniffi909

  5. ArkOfTurus says:

    I’ll play Vanquisher, I suppose.

    twitter: @arkofturus

  6. VivaLaLazlow says:

    Destroyer all the way

    @VivaLaLazlow

  7. lanmanna says:

    Destroyer for the win.
    @Lanmanna

  8. aWonton says:

    I will definitely be playing the Alchemist.
    Twitter: @aWonton

  9. slaptarze says:

    Well it has to be all in, balls deep Destroyer for me. Don’t think ill even bother to acknowledge the other two

    @Slaptarze

  10. bomberbadj says:

    I’d play as Vanquisher. I always take the ranged option in games like this…
    @bomberbadj

  11. VDH says:

    I think I’ll go with the Alchemist, not my usual choice but I think it sounds fun this time.

  12. James Earl Grey says:

    Vanquisher all the way. Gotta have the guns ;)

    @JamesEarlGrey

  13. Jarrod says:

    Gonna go with the Destroyer.
    @grydersmith

  14. DSkye says:

    I guess I’ll pick Alchemist. Shooting pretty colors is always fun!
    @dskye42

  15. Empty1 says:

    Vanquisher First then the other two.

  16. Velikost says:

    I think I’d play the Alchemist! Thanks for the contest, and great review!

  17. PastaGabe says:

    Destroyer, I like to destroy things :D

  18. Mike D says:

    I’ll probably play as a Destroyer…I always play as the warrior class first in RPGs.

    @Superman64 on Twitter.

  19. Darklurkr23 says:

    Alchemist! It’s always so much more fun to do stuff with Magic. Brute Force is boring.
    @Darklurkr23

  20. SirKhalid says:

    I usually play as a range guy. I will play Vanquisher first!

    @SirKhalid

  21. Ken H says:

    I’ll probably pick the Alchemist. He has the best hair. That’s what makes a game.

    @KHunt_

  22. Yama says:

    Leaning towards Destroyer!

  23. Yama says:

    Oops forgot to ass twitter lol.

    “Leaning towards Destroyer!”

    @yamayamayaamaa

  24. Jen says:

    I’d be a destroyer.

    @sodapopgatts

  25. Matt says:

    Destroyer

  26. ppself says:

    The vanquisher is what i roll with.

  27. Adam B. says:

    I would be an Alchemist.

    Thanks for the opportunity!

  28. Garrett Yu says:

    If I win Torchlight on XBLA I will select the Destroyer as it matches who I am on any game I play! :P
    Twitter: @garrettyu

  29. craig anderson says:

    alchemist every time, magic is king in fantasy games.
    @maidenofhaste

  30. Magdaluna says:

    I would play as the Alchemist !

    Thanks for the contest !

    Good luck everybody !

    Twitter username : @MagdaTwitt

  31. Justin says:

    I’ll try something different. I think I’ll go with the Alchemist.

  32. okiraan says:

    The Alchemist! Following @okiraan

  33. filthhealer says:

    I’m leaning towards Vanquisher but I might just go with Alchemist, depends on the variety of spells. I will probably play both.

    Existing follower; @filthhealer

  34. Mark says:

    I’ve always like the ranged physical damage classes, so I’ll be sticking with the Vanquisher :)

    Following and tweeted @muser_mark

  35. Duncan says:

    Looks good, shame there is no co-op though.

  36. Duncan says:

    Looks good, shame there is no co-op though.

    @weejok

    oops forgot twitter name on last post (not trying to get 2 entries!)

  37. Gil says:

    I’ll probably pick Alchemist, I love mage classes!

  38. HC says:

    Magic over brawn any time for me, bring on the Alchemist!

    @hma42 (tweet + follow)

  39. Jordan says:

    Vanquisher is the class for me.

    Been following and tweeted @JordanRowe24

  40. Will says:

    Definitely Destroyer!

    @moneykid16ify

  41. GamesB2 says:

    Definitely Alchemist! I love magic ;D

    Previous follower: @GamesB2

    :3

  42. Eric says:

    Game looks awesome – I’ll go with Vanquisher.

    @starkeee on Twitter

  43. John says:

    I think ill choose the Destroyer. @averageoptimus

  44. Sean McKay says:

    Gotta go with the Destroyer. Always been a hack-n-slash type of guy. Like the blood splatter across my face as I slice through stuff. ;-)

  45. sakanakami says:

    I would be a vanquisher, I always go with the rogue/ranger type characters.

  46. @mattvander says:

    I’m excited for this!

  47. Michael Johnson says:

    Alchemist is the only way to go this time!

    @MichaelJ325

  48. Reid says:

    I would probably try out destroyer. The others just don’t appeal to me until I actually played the game.

    @mstrfantastic

  49. sara says:

    I’ll be trying the Alchemist
    follower @saraWell87

  50. Letsgetacid says:

    I’ll most likely be playing as a Destroyer for starters.
    Following with @Letsgetacid