Torchlight PC DVD
Published by: JoWooD Entertainment
Developed by: Runic Games
Given the popularity of Diablo II, released back in 2000, it seems kind of strange that ten years later we're still to see a third game in the series (although it's in development of course). Over the last decade there have been many games that try and tap into Diablo's appeal but none have captured the true spirit of Diablo as well as Torchlight. This probably shouldn't be surprising as Runic Games, the team responsible for Torchlight, includes some of the developers who worked on the first two Diablo games.
You can choose from three playable characters to take on your journeys through the mines of Torchlight. The male characters are the muscular Destroyer and the more modestly proportioned Alchemist whilst the only female character is the rather curvy Vanquisher. Regardless of the character you pick, you'll get to choose either a dog or a cat to have as your pet. The pets will accompany you on your travels through the mines and fight alongside you. You can even equip items to your pet and they can even learn a couple of spells which makes them a rather useful companion to have fighting alongside you. They also have their own inventory and you can even send them back to the surface of the mining town of Torchlight so that they can sell any items you've amassed and no longer require.
There's not much of a storyline in Torchlight but in truth this isn't the kind of game that requires an elaborate plot. The mines of Torchlight are prized for their deposits of Ember, a mineral which is desired both for trade and for its magical properties. With the discovery of some ancient relics and the presence of monsters in the mines however, all is not well in Torchlight and it's up to you to explore the mines and kick as much monster butt as you possibly can. The game begins with you entering the mines in search of a man called Brink but the search for him is just the tip of the iceberg and the many quests that await you are much more challenging.
When it comes to the action and collecting loot, it feels just like the Diablo games. You’ll move by either clicking with the left mouse button or simply by keeping the same button pressed down and moving the mouse around. Attacks are performed by left clicking on your chosen enemy and you’ll use the right mouse button to cast spells. The combat feels spot on and is highly addictive. The three different playable characters are well balanced and there is a choice of four difficulty levels so that all ability levels are nicely catered for. You can even elect to play the game in “Hard-core” mode if you wish although it’s not for the faint of heart as in this mode once you die, it’s game over. There are loads of items to get your hands on during the course of the game and you’ll really appreciate the ability to send your pet back to town to sell the unwanted stuff as your inventory will fill up really quick. Thankfully you can also store a lot of items within the town itself if there are things you want to keep but not carry with you all of the time.
There is quite a lot of replay value to be found in Torchlight. You’re looking at around fifteen hours or so to play through the game but there are many reasons to play through the game multiple times and it’s not just because there are other characters to play as. Dungeons are randomised as are the monsters and loot, so you’re never going to get the same experience twice. Should you complete the game and reach the 100-level cap you can retire your character and pass on a special perk to their descendant which is a nice touch and will encourage you to play through the game one more time.
Probably the only respect, in which Torchlight disappoints, is the lack of any co-operative or indeed any multiplayer component. It would have been a superb game to play online or even over a local network but sadly there is no support for either and it definitely feels like a missed opportunity. However, it’s difficult to complain when the asking price for the game is well under £20 and the single-player experience is so good.
Torchlight has an almost cartoonish visual style that may be a little simplistic but there’s no denying that it’s rather charming. The level design and the design of the dungeon as a whole in Torchlight is first class. It should also be mentioned that whilst there’s a single dungeon in the game, it’s huge and there’s more than enough variation in its design to prevent the whole thing from becoming visually repetitive. One of the benefits with the game not being very demanding is that it will run with ease on older PC configurations. The game even has a Netbook mode which supposedly allows the game to run on laptops and newer netbook computers. I can’t say whether this works well or not due to only having a desktop PC but the sentiment will surely be appreciated by those who either don’t have a desktop PC or who like to spend time gaming when they are out of the house or away from the desk.
It’s rather pleasing to find that Torchlight is subtitled and that deaf gamers will be able to enjoy the game without any real problems. All of the essential dialogue is subtitled so you’ll be able to follow the storyline without any problems. All quest information is shown in text and you’ll be fully aware of the rewards that can be acquired for successfully completing a quest. There are some items of speech that aren’t subtitled however. When you click on an NPC to interact with them they will say “Hi there,” or “Hello there” and these greetings aren’t subtitled. When your mana and health is running low a verbal warning is given out but there are no subtitles for these comments. This would be a serious problem if it weren’t for the fact that the interface does a splendid job of making it very clear when both your mana and health is running low. You’re also not notified in text when your inventory is full although you’ll figure this out when you can’t collect the items you’ve just earned. In short then, it could have been subtitled better but there are no real obstacles for deaf gamers who want to experience what Torchlight has to offer.
All things considered, Torchlight is a quality dungeon crawling action RPG that can be nothing other than highly recommended. Its budget price is simply the icing on the cake. Yes, there’s no denying that some form of co-operative multiplayer would have been appreciated and had the game been a full price title it may have been a legitimate complaint. What you are getting however is a top quality action RPG that captures the spirit of the Diablo games to a tee and includes enough original features to give it a personality of its own.