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Torchlight Review - a New Action RPG You've Been Playing for Years

by: Tony Coffee ; edited by: Lamar Stonecypher ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

Welcome to an action RPG set in a quasi-Diablo world with all the same features of any action adventure, hack and slash, semi-RPG that you’ve seen before. With a surprising price tag of $20 and no retail boxed product, Torchlight is worth diving deep into to see if it’s worth your time.

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    About Runic Games

    Runic Games RPG   Runic Games, formerly known as Flagship studios and also formerly known as “the creators of Diablo," doesn’t quite seem to get the big picture. Gamers do not care who created Diablo. If the game sucks, nobody is going to play it. Diablo was a fantastic game for its time, but it simply doesn’t hold a candle to today’s selection. Runic Games seems to think that using the phrase “by the creators of Diablo" will move copies and motivate you to buy whatever they throw at you. While that may have been true back when Diablo was first released, gamers have gotten smarter and know better than to take someone’s word for it. We know what a good game should be no matter who makes it.

    Runic Games used the same sales phrase in hopes of selling more copies of their previous title, “Hellgate: London." For whatever reason, the Hellgate: London MMO tanked and the servers are offline. Those who purchased the $100 lifetime subscriptions were left with a sore feeling for the company. Maybe this won’t affect sales so bad for Torchlight?

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    Torchlight Gameplay - Torchlight In A Nutshell

    Torchlight RPG Game   What do you get when you combine the level design techniques of Diablo, the loot system from Diablo 2, the monsters and creatures from World of Warcraft, the music from Diablo, and a few borrowed ideas from Diablo 3? Torchlight…it’s like the best of all the above but not nearly as fun or exciting.

    You walk around, you kill stuff, you collect loot, you level up, you spend stat points and skill points to make your character stronger, and you do one epic storyline quest to complete the game. If you’re looking for more options, I’m sorry, you’re out of luck.

    You’re going to be spending a lot of your time mindlessly clicking any random skill, hammering on random mobs, and browsing through which loot you want to wear. The mobs offer no real challenge and the entire game lacks in difficulty even with the added difficulty levels. Honestly though, I couldn’t tell you how much harder the game is on the harder difficulty levels. After you complete the game, your character does not even have the option to continue on in a harder difficulty setting. You’re stuck in the setting you choose with nothing to do but the endless, randomly generated dungeons. There is no point to continue the same character after you defeat the final boss. Had it not been for this, I would have undoubtedly taken my character into a harder difficulty. And after the first ten dungeons, you’ve seen what the entire game is all about.

    Runic Games' logic behind character progression feels to be a bit backwards in Torchlight. They give you the option to retire your character after you have killed the final boss. Retiring a character will render it completely unplayable and is irreversible. You do, however, get to pass on one of your character's items as a heirloom. It’s supposed to improve the items stats and be useful in some way to the next character you create. The item level requirements stay the same, however, which means your character won’t even be able to wield it until they beat the game themselves. This makes the entire process useless. You are better off simply throwing all your gear in a shared chest before you retire. The benefits of retiring will only net your next character an extra level of fame and you start with an extra skill point. There is more benefit from avoiding the retirement system all together. A higher level character is better off hunting items to allow for ‘twinking’ rather than retiring it. While this action RPG doesn't lack in action, it lacks in every other aspect.

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    Torchlight Content - Or Lack Thereof...

    keyboard sleep   There are only two other quests that you can take on, and they ultimately end up repeating over and over. You have your basic assassination quest that wants you to go to this place, kill this mob, and return. Then you have the over-done item hunting quest where you go to this place, collect this item and return. Technically you could say that the game consists of three quests- the main storyline quest, the monster hunting quest, and the item hunting quests- which pretty much sums up the single player experience. This, by the way, is the only way to experience Torchlight as multiplayer was excluded entirely.

    Rounding level thirty, I found myself nodding off. The game is so mindless that I couldn’t bring myself to play any longer. Torchlight exemplifies this by allowing you the option to never even have to return to town. Your pet has an inventory in which you can junk up and tell it to head to town to sell your junk. This gets old and repetitive extremely fast. Even the level design that was said to be random isn’t so random. Most levels are designed exactly the same way, just with different textures.

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    What Torchlight Has To Offer

    Torchlight Classes   Torchlight is simple and addictive fun for anyone old enough to stomach the bloody gore and repetitive level design. It’s a game for casual players at best as it doesn’t bring anything new to the action RPG hack and slash genre. Hardcore gamers will be completely turned off inside of 10 minutes.

    All three classes have three skill tabs offering ten skills which put each class coming out with thirty spells, most however, are used in each of the three classes. This gives us 64 unique spells to allocate skill points to between all three classes. It falls a little short and makes one class almost pointless to play. The Destroyer and Vanquisher share so many skills that you’re better off playing one or the other. Adding to the mix, characters can also loot spell scrolls of any type. You can equip up to four and use any spell in the game, so long as you find the spell scroll and have it equipped. Most of the scrolls, either found or sold, are more unique than those a player can invest in with skill points.

    Don’t forget about your pet. The only type of character customization (aside from loot) doesn’t even pertain to your character, but your pet instead. You get a whopping choice of either a dog or a cat- character customization at its worst. Not that it matters the least bit as the loot you will equip will completely cover your entire character model.

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    Final Thoughts On Torchlight

    failboat arrival   If you’re more of a casual player and never got into Diablo or Diablo 2, Torchlight will be a game you play for hours on end on a daily basis. You may even call it the best game ever made. More seasoned gamers however, won’t gain much (if anything) from the game. Even a $20 price tag sounds a bit much after you experience about thirty minutes of Torchlight.

    That being said, Torchlight is a classic that should have been made years ago. The formula used to create the game may have worked in the past but not so much with today’s games. It’s now easy to understand why Runic Games decided to distribute it via download instead of spending the money shipping it in a retail box. The amount of money they saved probably prevented them from going belly up… again. The game falls way short of being considered a real full title, even with the mod tools said to be released in a few days. Torchlight appears to be more of a springboard quick launch to fuel hype for their MMORPG that is in the works.

    Aside from the graphics update, there is no real reason to play this Diablo clone. Unless you are just wanting to play something to bide your time while you wait for Diablo 3, then stay away from this time-sink of a game. You would be much better off, and probably have more fun, saving $10 and picking up Diablo or Diablo 2 from the budget rack and giving that another go.