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Action RPG



Perfect World Ent., Encore Inc.



Runic Games






October 27, 2009



- Tons of loot

- Nice visuals and music

- Big levels

- The different classes are fun

- Good item management system



- Path finding needs work



Review: The Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal (PC)
Review: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (XBox)

Review: Icewind Dale II (PC)



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Score: 9 / 10


torchlight-32.png (1946920 bytes) torchlight-1.jpg (1259224 bytes) torchlight-2.jpg (1192070 bytes)


What happens when you get the masterminds behind Diablo I and II, Fate, and Mythos in the same room?  The make an amazing dungeon explorer, thatís what.  Torchlight is an excellent entry into the genre, with three unique classes to play as, a very nice visual aesthetic, and a loot system that will keep players coming back for more in a never ending search for better gear.  Throw in the fact that this rock solid game is only twenty bucks, and itís almost blasphemous not to own it.


Taking place in the caverns below the town of Torchlight, players find themselves hunting a once-kind wizard whose research has driven him mad.  As you delve deeper into the labyrinth beneath the town, the story explains more as to why this happened, and that the ancient, dead civilizations buried in this place may have suffered a similar fate.  Itís a straightforward story, but I liked it.  I actually felt a bit bad for the wizard.  He seemed like he must have been a nice guy before he took a turn for the worse.


As mentioned earlier, players have three classes to chose from when playing Torchlight, each with their own unique approach to combat.  First there is the brawny Destroyer, a straight melee class.  He goes in swinging, up close and personal, beating the tar out of his enemies.  Next there is the Vanquisher.  She prefers ranged attacks, and can use traps.  Lastly, there is the Alchemist, a magic user.  He can use either melee or ranged weapons, but can also summon imps and golems to help him in battle.  My personal favorite is the alchemist if only because he reminds me of the necromancer from Diablo II, one of my favorite classes from that game.  I just love summoning an army of imps and a robot to help swarm the enemy, while casting magic from a distance.  Regardless of which class you pick, you also get to choose between having a pet dog or cat to accompany you in your adventures.  Whichever pet you chose, they will fight by your side in the dungeons, and players can even augment their pet's abilities by feeding it fish that can be acquired from fishing holes peppered throughout the dungeons.  Each type of fish will temporarily morph your pet into a different creature with unique abilities.  It's a fun little diversion, figuring out what food does what.  They're also useful in that they have a large inventory where you can dump items that you want to vendor later.  When your pet is full up on these, you can send them back to town to sell the items for you.  Itís a nice way of helping to manage inventory so that players donít have to constantly step back from the action so that they can teleport back to town and clear out their bags.





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Character advancement is done via two ways.  First there is the traditional acquisition of experience points.  Upon each level-up, players get to spend five points improving character stats, and another point can be spent in their characterís talent tree.  On top of this, completing quests and defeating bosses rewards fame.  As characters become more famous, they level this 


up as well.  On each level up, they can spend an additional point on talents.  Itís a nice little bit extra, as there are a lot of interesting talents to choose from in Torchlight, and having the chance to improve them a little bit more than just on experience-based level-ups most welcomed.


Actual combat is very simple.  Just left or right-click on the enemy you want to attack, assigning specific actions to each button as you see fit.  Players can also assign additional abilities to the number buttons like a typical MMORPG UI.  Itís easy, and plenty customizable.  In general, the controls are very responsive, but sometimes I found my charactersí path finding a bit lacking when sending him or her after an enemy that is far away.  Also, my summoned pets could get stuck behind obstacles occasionally when playing as an alchemist, forcing me to backtrack in order to get them unstuck.


The dungeons are randomly generated, so every time you take a new character into them, the layout will be different.  Better still is that each level is reasonably large, so there is quite a bit of exploring to be done looking for treasure, and minor bosses that not only drop loot, but reward fame when defeated.  Going through these labyrinths, itís difficult to resist checking every nook and cranny to make sure you didnít miss any goodies, especially loot, which is randomly generated.  If there is any one thing that we can learn from games like Diablo and World of Warcraft, itís that gamers seem to love getting their characters better and better gear with better stats, and also that makes them look more and more bad-assed along the way.  Torchlight certainly delivers this in spades.  One very cool feature in the game is that if a character finds a really good item that isnít necessarily useful for their class, but might be useful for another, there is a shared chest in town where the item can be left.  For example, letís say that you found a really nice axe while playing as an alchemist, and he canít use it, but you also have a destroyer who would love it.  Just leave it in that chest as your alchemist, log off, get your destroyer, visit the chest, and take it.  Boom, done.  Itís a wonderful feature for make the most out of loot drops.


Moreover, characters look good in the process, but then again, everything looks good in this game.  Going for a more cartoony look, the game has a nice, soft motif to it.  Itís not hard fantasy by any means, which is nice.  This style brings a more relaxed, fun-loving feel to Torchlight.  The music is also quite good.  Itís composed by Matt Uelmen, the same person responsible for the tunes in the Diablo series, Starcraft, and the World of Warcraftís Burning Crusade expansion.  So, if you liked his works in those games, you wonít be disappointed here.


In the end, Torchlight is a very solid dungeon exploring action RPG.  It looks good, sounds good, thereís a ton of loot to get, and the different classes are fun to play.  If you are even remotely interested in this genre, you owe it to yourself to get this game.



December 6, 2009

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