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Video Game Review: Torchlight

March 6, 2011 | By Herija Green | comment on this post
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.


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. gaz says:

    i would have to try all 3
    twitter @gazzie81

  2. megaplushie says:


    I’m the one and only @megaplushie!

  3. iZer says:

    I’ll start with the Destroyer i think.

  4. T3hAnubis says:

    I would probably play as an Alchemist, bit destroyer looks good too.

  5. Arthar says:

    I’ll be a alchemist, as usual :P

  6. agentxk says:

    Rolling with the vanquisher!


  7. _Valisk says:


    I’ll probably play as the Alchemist, since I used him in the PC version, but the Vanquisher seems really fun too.

  8. H4K says:


  9. JZ nology says:

    Alchemist is the only way to start.


  10. fresh02_88 says:

    the Destroyer

    Twitter @fresh0288

  11. David says:

    Davicams on twitter
    I will be picking vanquisher.

  12. Alchemistlord says:

    The alchemist!
    Twitter @Nvsareval

  13. Chris says:

    Alchemist for sure. Cheers for the review I value your opinion. @wicket2961

  14. Gary says:

    I will be the Vanquisher.
    Twitter @garymamba

  15. SSLMelon says:

    I’d love to try all 3. I think the Destroyer is going to be the most comfortable for me, at first.
    Twitter @SSLMelon

  16. squidpunch says:

    Alchemist all the way.

  17. gamerchef says:

    The alchemist for sure

    Twitter, @stephenrogers71

  18. BlackArrow says:

    I would like to try all 3 as well!

  19. Caleb Toney says:

    I think i will start with the destroyer

  20. V2Blast says:

    I think I’ll be going with Alchemist.


  21. Caleb Toney says:

    my twitter is really @cyclones_toney disregard that last post

  22. TheOtherBarber says:

    either the Destroyer or Vanquisher. Alchemy doesn’t really interest me as a character selection – too many button combos to remember…

    Twitter: @TheOtherBarber

  23. MT says:


  24. Kaltic says:

    I definitely want to try the Alchemist (magic users are awesome).

  25. xenoshade23 says:

    I will be Destroyer with pleasure.

  26. Vashman2002 says:

    I will be an assassin. @vashman2002

  27. Big Ninja Jim says:

    I’d say that I’ll go with Vanquisher. She looks close to being a Rogue, or thief or whatever you wana call it. I like being able to either sneak by or stand a little ways back and hand out damage, with out having to run for cover the minute I pull aggro.

  28. Dere says:

    Destroyer for sure! Can’t wait!

  29. DereK says:

    Destroyer for sure! Can’t wait!

  30. hlprmnky says:

    @hlprmnky – definitely going to start with an Alchemist, just like on PC – though I’ll probably start alts as soon as something really nice for another class drops (just like on PC!).

  31. Carlos says:


  32. DirtyDozen says:

    Thanks for the review and a chance to win a code. I’m really excited for this release. I’ve been waiting for it.

    Normally I’d play as a Destroyer, but I’m very curious to try a Vanquisher instead.

    Twitter: @DirtyDozen

  33. TxdoHawk says:

    Destroyer, no doubt.

  34. kuz101 says:

    I will be an Alchemist, I’ve played too many warrior classes, i want to try a magic one

  35. Neil says:

    I’ll be playing Destroyer, because I like to destroy everything!! ;)

  36. ArmanC says:

    Its a tough choice, all three classes are appealing. I just wish they weren’t gender specific, would love to play a male Vanquisher. However, since we don’t get that option, I’d probably go with Destroyer as my first character.

  37. ArmanC says:

    Crap…forgot to add my twitter, its @Kulluminatii

  38. Linda says:

    I want to play as the Vanquisher because it’s the only female character :P

    RT’d and followed as @lindamomma

  39. Fragger says:

    Nice review. I’m a bit of a ranger, so I’d be going with the Vanquisher. =P

    I Retweeted the message: @lFraggerl

  40. Hector S. says:

    Nice Review, I like to be the powerfull guy, so I’ll be the Destroyer

    Retweet your message :D

  41. Cassy says:

    2.Already following: @phantoms_heart

  42. Judy says:

    I will be the Vanquisher.
    Twitter @kidojly

  43. Jerry says:

    1. I’ll be starting with the Alchemist.
    2. Following @VideoGamerRob and RT
    3. @Jdr01071989

  44. Will johnson says:

    Probably destroyer

  45. Ben Sweeney says:

    Following on twitter @sweeneyben
    RT’d as well.

    Thanks for the contest!

  46. Unrestr1cted says:

    1 Destroyer
    2 followed @Contest_Enterer
    3 rt!/Contest_Enterer/status/45491143022100480

  47. Justin says:

    1) Alchemist
    2) Followed @VideoGamerRob
    3) Tweeted today, and my Twitter is @jclast

    Thanks for running the contest!

  48. Corvak says:

    Yeah! Destroyer!

    Twitter: @corvak

  49. JustinM says:

    I think I’m going to play as a Destroyer… I’m going to have to check the spells/abilities out before I decide! @viisual