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Torchlight Review: Calling All Loot Whores & Dungeon Fiends!

The runaway PC hit Torchlight has finally made its way to consoles, and might I say it’s about time? When I was young (before I became the bitter old soul I am today) I spent an inordinate amount of time pillaging dungeons and raiding the depths of Hell itself in the Diablo series. Sadly, I’m a Mac convert so these addictive activities were no longer available to me once Steve Jobs delicately lured me to the dark side with promises of shiny, and incredibly expensive gadgets. Since then I’ve dreamt of the better days when I wasn’t just Adam, but Adam, The God of Sex and War, and now I finally have a game that lets me dawn my demon slaying gear so I can kick some monster ass yet again.

Let’s forget all the hullabaloo surrounding the possibility that Diablo 3 might come to consoles because after a couple hours with Torchlight you just won’t care. Not only is this game similar to the undisputed king of dungeon crawlers, but it’s streamlined many of the controls and inventory, and it’s gorgeous art style makes it infinitely more appealing to the eyes. I can only explore the same gore-filled catacomb or lava spewing Hell pit so many times before I start to feel an overwhelming sorrow wash over me. Head past the jump for my thoughts on this loot-hoarding, demon-slaying epic and whether or not it’s worth your hard-earned drug money. The Baby Factor: If Diablo’s old school dungeon crawling got together one night with Fable’s vibrant hand-drawn art style, Torchlight would be their sexy, fun and insanely addictive dungeon baby.

One of the first things you’ll notice is how vibrant the world is. Yes, Torchlight is all about protecting the world from a dark evil by slaying countless monsters, but that doesn’t mean it will share the gritty and realistic look other games in its genre have. Outside of its vibrant hand-drawn aesthetic there’s also a wide variety of unique environments to explore. The dungeons and catacombs are expected in a game like this but there were also some vastly different areas like temple ruins overgrown by nature, massive libraries and a bizarre, otherworldly cave. If anything the large selection of places to explore keeps the game from ever looking to familiar.

Much of the design from past dungeon crawlers has been carried over to Torchlight, including different classes of equipment and weapons (like rare, unique and set items), an arsenal of spells, skill trees and much more. Many of these features have been streamlined to make them easier to use, for example, the inventory is simple and intuitive and you have a pet that can help you conquer foes as well as take loot you don’t want to the town for money.

The real issue with games that are designed for the PC before getting ported to consoles is the controls rarely mesh the way they should. Torchlight really doesn’t have this issue as your spells can be mapped to several of the face buttons on the controller and navigating your inventory and menus is as easy as it is in any other game.

Experienced demon slayers be warned, if you’ve played games of this ilk before I suggest choosing a difficulty above normal as I’ve played through much of the game without any enemies posing any real threat. I only have limited experience with games like these but I rarely had a foe even dent my health, much less take out my Badass Sorcerer Shield of Doom and Chaos (I forget the spell’s real name).

By far my favorite feature in the game is the option to trot on over to one of the town’s many citizens so he can work his magic and enchant one of my items, giving the item extra sockets or special abilities. I must’ve done this to my Badass Purple Snake Staff of Venom and Destruction (again, not the real name) over a dozen times before I became worried that I might lose the enchantments. You see, the more times you enchant your weapon the greater the chance you have of losing every special bonus on the item. This happened to me once after I had invested a healthy portion of my gold reserve into upping its Demon Ass-Whooping Factor and when the red text told me I had lost everything I think a tear escaped my eye. I was a very sad panda.

As for the story, you play as one of three classes, the archetypal burly soldier dude that like getting up close and personal, the hot chick with a bow and arrow and the wizard. Granted, none of them are called that in the game (they’re dubbed the Destroyer, Vanquisher and Alchemist, respectively) but we’ve seen these classes in a myriad other games so I’m sure you can figure out their abilities. Like any good dungeon crawler, you’re the sole person who can vanquish the evil that’s getting ready to tear the world apart so get to it, eh? I would’ve liked to see some unique classes, looking at Diablo II’s Assassin and Druid classes for example that were familiar while still retaining some surprises for gamers accustomed to these types of games.

Really, the only things this game is missing are more interesting boss fights and cooperative play. Regarding the former, essentially every boss you encounter can be defeated by attacking it directly until it croaks. I would’ve liked to see some extra strategy thrown into the boss encounters to mix them up a bit. And sadly, Torchlight is a game for people looking to spend some time alone. I hear the upcoming sequel has taken this into consideration and will include some sort of multiplayer so I can only hope the game makes its way to consoles sooner than its predecessor did.

The Final Word: This is a fantastic game that offers many, many hours of entertainment for the paltry price of 1200 Microsoft Moose Monies. If you’re a fan of loot, slaying hordes of demons or simply looking for a game you can play with anyone (what little gore the game has can be turned off), Torchlight is a fantastic addition to any gamer’s library.

P.S. If you don’t own a console or just don’t want to play this game on anything but your PC it just so happens that Torchlight’s price has been dropped to $14.95 on the PC as well, so it matches its console-based sibling’s price.

This review is based on a digital copy of the Xbox 360 version of Torchlight, which was provided by the publisher.

Have a question? Feel free to ever-so-gently toss Adam an email, or follow him on Twitter and Bloody Disgusting.



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