Diablo 3 is going to be an amazing game… in 2011. But until then, we Diabloholics need something to keep us from going off the deep end. Thankfully we have this brand new gem, Torchlight. Torchlight is created by some of the fine people who made Diablo and while playing the game it shows. It harkens back to a more classic time in PC gaming and with this new trend of modernized classic style games like Torchlight and Dragon Age, it’s a good time to be a PC gamer.
It took me a few minutes to realize that WASD, wasn’t actually going to do anything and I was back to commanding my hero with just the mouse. It was defiantly an adjustment, especially after years of playing with both the keyboard and mouse, but it was nice. It was like riding a bike after being able to drive; you wobble for a few seconds before your muscles remember what the heck they are suppose to be doing.
But I am getting ahead of myself; I haven’t talked about the four hour stalemate I was in as I tried to decide between the three classes. The Vanquisher is your classic long range class; she deals a ton of damage from afar and looks badass with a gun. The Destroyer fills the melee quota for the game; he’s a big burly man who likes to solve life’s little problems by splitting them in two with a giant sword. The last is the Alchemist, he is our resident mage, warlock, and crazy hunter dude all mixed into one. I personally love the look of the Alchemist because he sports a fantastic looking stone glove.
Once I had finally decided on a Destroyer, it was time to start playing the game, and boy did I like what I saw. Torchlight has a fantastic style to its credit; it mixes a colourful world, with appealing characters and monsters that won’t scare off those who are intimidated by Diablo 2’s gothic art, while also sporting a ton of bells and whistles in its spells and effects. Seeing my Destroyer materialize a giant sword of purple-ish black energy never got boring to see and each spell has a real level of impact, you can get a sense of the amount of force your abilities are spitting out.
Torchlight should also be given a medal for the inclusion of a small animal companion. It’s an idea that once you see it, you’re saying to yourself “of course, why didn’t they do this already?!” Much like in Saints Row when you realize you can have a guiding path on your minimap, which helps you get to where you need to go. The dog or cat allows you to sell off any unwanted loot without having to go back to town. It’s such a brilliant idea that allows you to just keep playing and only go back to town when you need new quests or more pots.
Another great idea found in the game is the merchants that can be found scattered in the depths of the mines and below, these guys sell much needed supplies, fine weapons and armour, as well as a very cool item that I’ve never seen before, which is maps. These maps are original in the fact that they open up portals to dungeons not directly linked to the main game, meaning that there is a ton of extra content to enjoy as you progress through the main story.
Combat is classic in the sense that you click and hold on your enemy to have your character attack, and click the right button to have him or her use their designated spell. However there are some refinements that allow for a greater diversity of combat. By hitting tab you can switch which spell will be cast by the right mouse button. This is really helpful as I would use my cleave ability against strong single enemies and then switch to this epic thunder jump that would damage a whole crowd. You can also bind additional spells and potions to the number keys.
However for all of Torchlight’s charm and enjoyment from the good old days, it is missing a key feature that any good title in this genre must have, and it is multiplayer. It is such a fundamental component of what makes these games work, that not having it in the game isn’t a question of why, but a question of how they could ever do that to us! Torchlight is a game that would be so much more addicting if you could play with other people instead of only getting to tell stories about your own adventures around the campfire.
But when the last troll or demon is slain, and your hero retires for the day you’re left with an imperfect gem. Torchlight is homage to a simpler time in gaming, one that deserves all the positive word of mouth it has been gaining. But for me the lack of multiplayer stops this title from greatness. So I say onto you Runic Games…. get to work on number 2!