When Torchlight first landed on PC a little over a year ago, fans of dungeon crawlers, such as Diablo, were stoked. Not only were they able to get their fix while waiting on the oft-delayed Diablo 3, but the game was actually really damn good. That is partly because the development team is comprised of the same talent that brought Blizzard’s classic to life. Fast-forward to 2011 and console owners are finally getting to experience what PC players have been raving about. Torchlight for XBLA is just as good as its PC counterpart, making it a steal on Microsoft’s download-only service.
For anyone unfamiliar with the game style, let me break it down as best as I can. A dungeon crawler is precisely what it sounds like. You traverse various floors of a dungeon, stomping out enemies and collecting loot. Said loot can be anything from potions to weapons to armor. The idea is that you are constantly collecting items like a pack rat. You can sell them to merchants to buy new goodies and even enchant and modify them with other items. It is the ultimate collect-a-thon, so to speak.
Much like any other RPG, you will also gain XP and be able to level up your character. The skill tree varies depending on which character you choose, and the XBLA version allows you to earn a respec potion just by gifting one to someone on your friends list. Speaking of classes, there are three to choose from, covering the gamut of quintessential personalities. The Vanquisher works as the traditional long-range character. She uses bows and guns and a one-handed weapon. The Destroyer is basically the tank. He lugs around large weapons and can take massive damage. Finally, the Alchemist is your traditional magic user. He also has ranged attacks and flashy spells.
Amazingly, one of the greatest innovations that Torchlight brought to the genre is also its most simple. The pet you choose at the beginning of the game does more than nip at the heels of enemies during combat. It basically serves as an errand boy to get rid of your unwanted loot. Now, this is absolutely brilliant. Inventory all full and in need of a trip to town? No problem. Just send Fido (yes, you can name them) on his merry way back to town with all your unwanted goodies and he returns with a bag of gold. This keeps you in the action and only needing to warp back to town to gather quests.
The biggest concern with bringing the game to a console was how it was going to handle without the mouse and keyboard setup. Well, with the way the game is setup, it works beautifully with a controller. You move your character around with the left stick and zoom in and out the camera with the right stick. The X buttons is your main attack while the two triggers and face buttons can be used as hotkeys for your spells and powers. The bumpers are used for mana and health potions. The A buttons serves as the action button and the start and back buttons work for menu and inventory screen. Clicking in on the right stick brings up the mini-map, so just about everything you need is right at your fingertips.
When you consider the sheer amount of content and quality of the game, Torchlight is one of the best values available on XBLA. With over a year between PC release and its console counterpart, one area still remains disappointing. That is, of course, a lack of multiplayer. Looting dungeons is a blast, but that fun doubles (or triples) when you throw in companions. This feature alone would have had PC players double-dipping for sure. Still, even without the feature, Torchlight is more than worth the price of admission.
Visually, I love both the style and art direction that Runic Games has gone with. Unlike Diablo’s gothic sense, Torchlight is brighter and full of primary colors. The character designs for each of the three warriors is outstanding, and the enemies range from standard fare to some truly lush bosses. The dungeons also seem to feel unique, even though they do recycle some of the same architecture. The score is fantastic, mixing some truly epic tunes with some solid sound design. This game sounds great coming through either a nice surround setup or a quality pair of headphones. I also have to give credit for the menu system. This game is one slick package that is also smooth to navigate.
Torchlight is what happens when developers with a passion for what they do come together. You can tell the guys and gals that made this game truly love the genre and know what makes it fun. Torchlight doesn’t do anything that will reinvent the genre, but what makes it special is that it does everything right. If you enjoy hack and slash or dungeon crawlers there is no reason to pass up this amazing title. Console fans are in for a treat with Runic Games latest, and it comes at a fraction of the cost that it is worth.
Review copy provided by publisher.