The PC release of Torchlight was greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm. Here was a highly polished, furiously addictive action-RPG from a team composed of people who wrote virtually the book on the subject. Runic Games was established by veterans of Diablo and Fate, and their experience shines through every moment of Torchlight of the Xbox Live Arcade port.
The template is familiar. Players choose from three distinct hero classes, and venture from the town of Torchlight into the nearby dungeons and mines to solve the riddle of a mysterious mineral. Gamers battle a wide variety of monsters to complete quests, all while picking up as much loot as possible.
Torchlight might just have gaming’s most useful NPC pet to date. Forget Fallout, Fable, or Half-Life - your trusty in-game pal (who I named Butters, after my dog) will do just about everything for you but pick up your dry cleaning.
Can’t carry any more loot? Give it to your pet and he’ll run it back to town and sell it for you. Getting attacked? Your pet is ready for the fight, and will even cast spells. Need some serious backup besides your little friend? Feed him a fish and turn him into a rock monster or some other beast. It doesn’t make sense to me either, but it works.
PC-to-console ports often struggle with converting the control scheme, but Torchlight has been expertly adapted expertly to the Xbox 360 controller. Bumpers, face buttons, and triggers are all effectively and seamlessly used, with gamers able to hot-key their favorite abilities to customize as they wish.
Managing inventory is confusing at first, but you spend some time moving items around it becomes second nature.What I like most about Torchlight is how it effectively used so many elements from great games both past and present. To be sure, fans of Diablo and Fate will feel right at home with this title, but if you look even deeper you can see the influence of games like Gauntlet, Oblivion, and Zelda, as well as the aforementioned Fable and Fallout.
Unfortunately, like its PC predecessor, Torchlight has no multiplayer offering. You can gift potions to friends and there are leaderboards to show off your score, but there is no co-op or competitive play. The lack of multiplayer is a minor quibble, especially considering it wasn’t available in Torchlight’s initial 2009 release, but the Xbox 360 is so well known for online multiplayer its absence really feels like a missed opportunity.
However, only the hardest heart could maintain a grudge against Torchlight. Dungeons are incredibly expansive, there’s a never-ending amount of quests to keep you busy, and after completing the main missions – which, at around 10-12 hours, are substantial for a downloadable game - still more randomized levels and dungeons are opened up. In short, this is a ridiculously deep game, and at this price it offers miraculous value.
Having never played Torchlight on the PC before, I was floored by everything the game had to offer. The looting, the character progression, and the addictive combat, all wrapped up in an attractive bow with a low price point. A must buy.
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