Torchlight fills a void that I’ve wanted to close lately: an urge to play Diablo 3 without having to pay the £44.99 my store is asking for. I bought it a while back when it was 400 MSP (Now retailing at 1200MSP or £9.99 without being in sale), and I must say it’s worth every penny. I’m 14 hours in and one of the last achievements I need to get is to get my fame at the highest I can (from what I’m aware, level 33 is the highest), and yet I feel I still could play this game plenty more, which is saying a lot for such a cheap title. I’ve played games a lot less and paid up to 4 times as much, which makes me truly value how much of a step in the right direction Torchlight was for XBLA games.
The game starts off with a lone wonderer (a character of your choosing) coming across the town of Torchlight, where supposedly there has been many monster attacks recently. You are given control of your character and can then explore the town. At this point in the game there really is no need; you have next to no money and there’s nothing to fight until you reach the other side. Upon helping a man being attacked near a cave, you proceed inside, going down floor by floor until the story is finished (the cave is technically endless, the game finishes around 33). I say story, but what I technically mean is a narrative to justify trekking through the cave. It doesn’t work, but is at least something to work towards.
Torchlight comes with the traditional three classes: Destroyer (Melee expert), Alchemist (Magic expert) and Vanquisher (Ranged expert). Each class is best suited to certain weapons, magic and armour. Within each class there are different abilities to unlock, allowing for a player to still chose a magic route even if they’ve chosen the Melee class (albeit the magic would be more catered to attack magic rather than defensive). This gives a lot more freedom than most games allow, showing that the gameplay really can be taken advantage of by any player style.
Combat is simple: you press the X button to use what weapon you currently have equipped, you then assign different spells/abilities to the buttons Y,B,RT,LT. At the start of the game you’ll find yourself only using the X button until you start levelling up and making use of the better abilities in the game. I found myself using only the abilities towards of the end of the game: having so many mana potions made this possible. Mana potions and Health potions are administered using the LB and RB buttons, making the process of healing extremely easy, no need to pause the game every few seconds. Weapons can be assigned in the menu, as well as all of the players spells.
Loot comes in all different shapes and sizes as you’d expect. Majority of it is junk, but you’ll occasionally come across a valuable piece that will last you a good portion of the game. Some pieces of loot will need to be identified before you can equip or use it, meaning that in theory a player will have to choose wisely what they identify, and what they don’t. This wasn’t a problem for me during my playthrough, as I had enough identify scrolls to identify most objects I came across. One thing I’d like to point out is the unique way Torchlight deals with junk items you find around the place. Once in the menu you can swap items you don’t want with your pet, enabling you to carry a lot more. If you really don’t want all this loot, and instead want to get the money, you can send your pet back to the town, which will gain you a profit whilst still going through the dungeons. This is a fantastic feature that allows you all the benefits of loot, with little of the drawbacks. A slight drawback of all this cash is what to spend it on: There’s nothing. I found that the only thing I spent my money on was the enchanting service, which in itself has drawbacks. (Every time you enchant an item there’s a greater chance the item will become disenchanted, which happens all too often.)
Your pet is not only a bag for loot, it also becomes an invaluable ally in fighting; using spells just like the player and even transforming into a whole new creature when fed a fish. This makes for some very interesting gameplay situations, for example towards the end of the game my pet was just the normal wolf, and was completely underpowered, yet at the start I transformed him into a troll and he was completely overpowered. Players should heed my warning: use your pet to your advantage, doing so will make the game a lot more enjoyable, and a lot easier.
Overall Torchlight is a fantastic game which could become a torch bearer for all XBLA games; it shows a standard of gameplay rarely seen on a downloadable game. Bear in mind that this game was made in 11 months, and you see how much of an accomplishment Torchlight is for Runic Games. There is a lot more I could say about Torchlight, but the main question is: Should you buy it? I think the answer for most gamers is a reassuring “yes”.