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Wednesday | August 15, 2018
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Torchlight (PC)

Torchlight (PC)

Are you a fan of Diablo? Do you long for days when games didn’t need to have DX11 effects and cutting edge engine technology to win you over? Torchlight might be the answer to your prayers, because it focuses entirely on gameplay and puts a twisted yet very interesting slant on the ‘Diablo’ genre.

When I say ‘twisted’ above, I really mean it. In Torchlight, the boundaries of your typical fantasy game are thrown out the window. Your dog can summon zombies, you can fire lasers from your hands, you can send your cat to sell goods to the nearest merchant. In the short time Torchlight has been available it has been the talking point of many a PC gamer online and rightfully so – it is such an immensely gratifying game. Diablo fans have been waiting a long time for Part III so this certainly will sate their fantasy glands short term.

This would also seem to be the case as most gaming forums are full of people saying how much of their life they have lost to this game when in fact they had only bought it out of curiosity to pass an afternoon. You kill hundreds and thousands of evil monsters ranging from giant spiders to dragon beasts and the array of powerups and new equipment is quite staggering – the developers have fine tuned the carrot on a string methodology to a whole new level. The concept is based around killing and collecting loot and myself, like many other gamers just find this simple idea so massively appealing.

It is this basic reward system that is the core of Torchlight, you aren’t bogged down with a tight set of ground rules, if you generally want to do something the game will bend and let you do it. You can send your pet to sell goods you no longer need, even while you are in the middle of a dungeon crawl – it will then return a short while later with a bag of cash and an empty sack. This pet assistance idea is not a new concept, it originated in a game called ‘Fate’ which was developed by one of the guys behind Torchlight and it is a great addition because I find the tedious nature of some of these games painful.

The game does way with the mind numbing rules of going to xxx place to sell xxx goods then returning later with your inventory able to pick up more items. Sure its not realistic, I mean when did you last see a dog running to a merchant with an inventory full of goodies, and returning with a bag of gold? It is however meant to help the player enjoy the fun stuff so it is welcomed with open arms. To further enhance this simplistic system you are also not hard wired into a limited character – the one you create can use any item in the game, if you invest enough resources into their dexterity, magic and strength.

Torchlight takes place in a huge multi level dungeon labyrinth below the main town and while it is a great setting as the game progresses you would like a wider selection of environments for the slaughter. There are some side missions offered but they are set in other dungeons with the same recycled backdrops and items so it becomes a little repetitive – especially when you don’t travel to them and fight on the way, but you get immediately teleported there.

This is where we get to the biggest limitation of the game, the overall setting. Now, I don’t know about you, but I like to be involved in some kind of fantasy based cohesive storyline – in Torchlight however you are never really immersed into the world. Sure you get a background story which is based around a character getting possessed by an evil magic but it is clear the developers really haven’t spent any time on this element of the game at all. You run from dungeon to dungeon killing everything in sight and every ten or so levels you get presented with another cut scene. I can’t say it ruined the game for me at all as I was having so much fun, but it would have been nice to feel like a hero fighting against some great evil and knowing you were making a difference, even in a virtual world.

Torchlight is very addictive, striving to reach another few levels in experience so you can wear the armor you found a few hours ago. Once you are able to wear the new armor you probably will have higher grade material you just found, and yes the stat cycle continues.

The combat is great fun … everything is bigger than real life and the spells look wonderful in action with the higher grade configurations causing a huge amount of damage to anything in the vicinity. Nothing is really taken seriously because when you look at your party it becomes almost humorous at times. For instance when I reached level 30 I had an army of little imps following me as well as my pet animal, a few golems and some skeletons and my cats zombie spawned units. The fact I am able to say that my pet cat can summon zombies gives me a chuckle everytime.

I would love to say I never got bored playing the game, but after about 20 hours I felt like I had my share of the experience – there are only so many dungeons and creatures you can kill before wondering if there really is a point in continuing to play. Developer Runic have stated however that they are looking at incorporating a MMO style aspect to the game so it may very well reach another audience entirely in the future.

Torchlight incorporates a random dungeon generating algorithm, so the first time you enter any dungeon it is unlikely to be the same as anytime you played it before. I would suggest those players more skilled crank the difficulty above the default ‘medium’ setting however as it is not really that challenging, well unless you are a n00b. You also can’t alter the difficulty on the fly so if you play for 10 hours and realise its not fun anymore then you have to restart the whole game from scratch, which isn’t ideal.

Graphically, the game is effective enough but many people may dislike the cartoonish stylized appearance – I personally didn’t mind it at all, it added a little bit of atmosphere to the proceedings. The audio is not bad at all with many ambient sounds and a plethora of hacking and slashing available for the various weapon types – its largely suitable.

Torchlight is a great Diablo filler and will appeal to the Dungeon Siege audience who want to sink their teeth into something fun to pass the time. As long as you can overlook the limited environmental settings most people would get something from this game, especially when you consider the modest asking price of $20/£15 which is basically half the price of most retail games on the market today.

You will get eventually bored killing and collecting loot, but you will have a good time doing so and all for a modest asking price. I hope the developers revisit this genre later and do something more ‘serious’ with a wider range of environments and mission objectives – I would be very willing to pay full price for a deeper game based around the Torchlight core experience.


Hacking and slashing and loot collecting – for as long as you can endure it.
Stylish and bright, effective enough.
Good ambient effects, but nothing outstanding.
Its a cheap game but it is surprisingly entertaining.

Well worth a look to pass a boring weekend.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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