Torchlight


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Rating: 4.8/5 (109 votes)
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Torchlight

DoraTorchlight, the time-devouring new roguelike action RPG from Runic Games, is good. Like, really, really good. Ideally, you would take me at my word, and I could go back to tracking down Earthreaper the Cruel on the nineteenth floor of the Tuatara Ruins. But apparently people will start making noises about "journalistic integrity". (*snort!*) So this review is going to talk about stabbing, monsters, treasure, fireballs, all the rest of the addictive awesome inside Torchlight, and why you should be playing it now.

TorchlightAs it happens, Torchlight is the name of the town the game is set in. A tiny little village with a rather robust mining community, all built upon the discovery of Ember, a mystical ore with rather... unique properties. When monsters begin swarming out of the mine, it seems like the perfect opportunity for an adventurer such as yourself to make an appearance. At least, that is, until you discover that it might be unhealthy for you to leave even if you wanted to. Luckily for you, with the randomised dungeons, endless monsters, and tons of treasure, why would you want to?

There are three characters to choose from when you start the game, but nobody really has an advantage over another, so feel free to pick whichever strikes your fancy. Sink enough strength points into the agile Vanquisher class, and she'll be able to swing for the fences as well as the Destroyer. You'll navigate your way through the world with the mouse; clicking on a location makes you run there, and holding the button down will keep your character moving in the direction of the cursor. People, items, and, yes, monsters, can be interacted with simply by clicking on them.

Those of you looking for a game with deep, tactical combat are probably going to have to keep looking. Despite making up the lion's share of the gameplay, combat in Torchlight consists of clicking once on a monster to hit, or holding down the button until the monster is dead, or you need to run away. You'll be able to get various spells and special abilities you can bind to hot keys, and upon death monsters drop not only items and gold, but experience and fame. With enough experience you can level up to allocate new skill and stat points, and with enough fame your renown spreads and you'll be able to get more skills. Which you'll need, since the game's randomised dungeons and monsters means it's hard to be prepared. Luckily for you, you've got a kitty cat!

TorchlightOr a puppy dog. After all, what hero-in-training doesn't go everywhere with his or her fluffy companion? You can choose between a cat or a dog upon starting the game, and while the choice is largely a cosmetic one, you're probably going to become pretty attached to your four-legged friend. Not only can your pet be a valuable ally in battle, you can equip it with rings, teach it spells, use it to carry items when you run out of room in your own inventory, and — are you ready? — send it back to town to sell off whatever you don't need while you keep adventuring. In a short time, your pet will be back by your side, returning with the gold value of the items it was carrying. Sort of makes you wonder why you can't send it off with a shopping list and a sack full of gold when you get low on healing potions, but who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth? Uh. Cat. Dog. Whatever! Love him and pet him, or fish up some strange sea creature to feed to him and watch him change into something else temporarily.

While the visuals in Torchlight are bright and colourful, not everyone is going to appreciate how cartoonish they are. The exaggerated designs for characters and enemies are actually very well done, but zooming in makes them look a little square and blocky. Of course, this does mean the system requirements for Torchlight are pretty low, and you'll spend enough time admiring the vibrant surroundings and extravagant spell effects that you probably won't care about the very minor graphical downgrade compared to other titles. Besides, you know what Torchlight has that they don't have? Tons and tons of fun.

Analysis: While I love rich, compelling stories and intricate gameplay as much as the next person, every once in a while all I really want to do is play a nice roguelike/action RPG game for a few (million, billion) hours. If you too share this feverish compulsion, you'll be happy to know that not only does Torchlight fulfill it, it does so well enough that it was only with genuine reluctance that I pulled myself from my dim den, squinting resentfully into the monitor to type this review.

It's not because I wound up deeply invested in the story. Sure, you're given a reason to be descending deeper into the dungeon, and they do try to impart a sense of urgency, but it just doesn't hold up. You spend so much time rampaging through hordes of beasts that your occasional interactions with characters when you come up for air to sell items almost wind up feeling out of place alongside the rest of the gameplay. Sure there are a few other sidequests you can take on, but they involve getting more treasure, or slaying bigger monsters. If that sounds like fun to you, (and it is) then you'll probably have a blast with Torchlight. But if you demand a more potent sense of fantasy and deep story to drive you along, you may be disappointed.

TorchlightSpeaking of disappointment, while we're here, let's lament the lack of multiplayer. Join me in my plaintive chorus, won't you? Yeah, I know, Runic Games is planning an MMO set in the Torchlight universe, but, well, that's not what I want. This game is begging to be played with a buddy. Why can't we have two or even three person co-op play for the campaign? Why can't I have someone to pound fists with over the fallen remains of our foes? Sure, the single-player campaign will probably keep you busy for a good long while, but there is going to come a time where you'll stumble across some treasure you won't use. You know, a wand, or maybe a bow. And you'll think about how your friend, Bob? How Bob loved bows. And a single lonely tear will trickle down your cheek.

But even lacking buddy capabilities, Torchlight is still easily worth the price tag, offering up hours upon hours of playtime, and a lot of replayability. Once you've got the hang of things, try out the punishing Hardcore difficulty, which represents a whole new challenge. Or just keep going deeper into the infinite dungeon available until you become an unstoppable war machine, like dear old ma would have wanted. It's incredibly satisfying to see a mob of enemies go zinging across the room from a fireball, or to see one explode into messy chunks from a critical hit. There are unique items to track down, entire sets of armor to assemble, and much more.

So, is Torchlight Diablo? Only in the sense that Diablo has almost become a genre in itself. Calling something a "clone" to me implies that you might as well be playing the original because they're identical, and I feel Torchlight manages to stand on its own nicely. The influences are obviously there, and you'll probably also recognise a little Divine Divinity in Torchlight's gameplay, but the game itself is just pure fun and a wonderful homage to those that have come before.

If you enjoy action, adventure, and, oh yes, treasure, then Torchlight probably has a lot to offer you. With addictive gameplay, a dedicated development team, and the upcoming editor that will allow you to make your own modifications to the game, Torchlight offers a lot of bang for its respectable buck.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.

28 Comments

Pyrokinesis1019 November 8, 2009 12:48 PM

Based on the review and the pictures, this game really reminds me of Fate. I played the Fate demo a bunch of times, and this looks just like it.

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Not to be a total dork, but from what I see, I wouldn't call this a roguelike. I've been looking for a modern roguelike for a long time, ie, a lot of short and brutal character deaths with an occasional obscenely long game that makes for borderline traumatic character deaths.

I think that no one is willing to make roguelikes anymore because, to do so, you have to HATE THE PLAYER and feed off of their hatred and suffering.

But are these diablo-like games roguelikes? (Never played diablo, this is a real quesiton) Do they give the traumatic and abusive relationship that I seek? :-D

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tenkuchima Author Profile Page November 8, 2009 12:56 PM

If you play on the the higher difficulty modes they can be. especially when death comes at a cost in gold and xp. if you really want to feel the hatred, there's a mode that makes death permanent(meaning if you die, your character is deleted)

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I did find a downloadable Torchlight demo out there. To avoid link dropping, I won't post where, but you can find it via Google. Just a heads-up!

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If you're anxious about Diablo 3, I recommend this game as a small taste of what you can expect. As a bonus, Torchlight isn't too resource intensive when correctly configured.

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Silent-Runner November 8, 2009 2:08 PM

Played the demo, then bought the game, it's just 15 bucks. For the amount of data (~600 MB) it's astonishing what you get. Having a blast playing it so far. Sure, Co-Op would be the icing on the cake, but, well, you can't have everything. So far i like the Alchemist the best, all those minions going rampart is pure fun. I am currently Level 54 and still having fun. The death penalty is ok. I'd recommend trying out the demo. And well, 15 bucks, peeps, it's not like you're paying 50 bucks. So give it a try.

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adam Gunderloy November 8, 2009 2:13 PM

reading the review just worsened my mood about my puny mac not being able to play anything i like.(my parents won't let me get boot camp)

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If anyone who reads this has seen the gameplay footage of diablo 3, this is very similar. I would almost call it diablo 2.5 since some of the design team worked on the diablo games. This game is great for a casual dungeon run and can offer a decent challenge on the harder difficulties.

The lack of multiplayer is a let down but the FAQ on the website leaves the option open for the future, along with other downloadable content.

5/5 game, at 20$ it is better than most 60$ games.

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I totally agree with you, Pyrokenisis. I've played Fate 1 and Fate 2 and this is almost identical when it comes to cat/dog. In Fate, your pet also fights and you can send it to town to sell.

All in all, this game's pet concept is nearly identical to Fate. I'm not saying this is a Fate copy because the rest of the game isn't too much like Fate, but the pets are very similar.

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I'm happy to see Torchlight featured at JIG! I purchased this game pre-release and I can say it is more than worth the $20. I also played the FATE series, and although there are some UI similarities, the gameplay and character development are unique enough to not be considered a repackaged sequel.

The 2 main reasons I would recommend this title to any RPG/aRPG fan are the community and TorchED (the editor tools being released for free tomorrow). Developer interaction with the forum community is unlike any game I have ever played. I've already seen several ideas mentioned on the forum implemented in game within days. Runic Games staff read and responded to all threads regarding bugs/gameplay issues on release a couple weeks ago and released a big patch right away fixing everything the players founds (with constant communication/updates being posted on the forums hourly).

TorchED will allow players to create their own dungeons, classes, skills, quests, items, etc.. Members of the modding community include modders from FATE, Oblivion, Warcraft, and others. Expect at least 300% of original content available by years end including Total Conversions.

Back to the game!

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waycooler Author Profile Page November 8, 2009 5:59 PM

I downloaded the demo, and I'm about to try it out. I just wanted to mention that after I saw the :S rating, I went to watch the trailers to see why, and realized it was probably because of the blood etc. There is a setting that you can... set... to turn of the blood. It's under Settings, surprisingly enough. But it made me happy cause the almost excessive blood made me not want to play. Now I can, with no fear! :D

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I snagged this and quite frankly, I'm not impressed.

The pet system is totally identical to Fate's: Feed your cat/dog fish and it changes shape. Yeah, real innovative to use a system everyone already recognizes.

Roaming through the mines, I noticed that the walls DO NOT turn opaque to show you what you're doing behind them. This makes it rather difficult to notice items without the ALT/item names to find them, but there's nothing you can do about monsters hiding behind walls.

I'm also disappointed by the lack of character classes or at least some customization. It just gets rather cookie cutter when you see the same classes with different names and not much new.

On the bright side, I did like the background story of a mining town under attack.

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The reason why Torchlight is so similar to Fate is that Travis Baldree, the creator or designer of Fate, is on the Torchlight team (according to Wikipedia).

Personally, I think Torchlight is enough of an improvement to Fate that it's not a big issue - I didn't like Fate, and I am enjoying the Torchlight demo so far.

The one thing that drives me insane is that you can't seem to move the camera. Have I just not figured it out yet, or is it really impossible to move the camera to look in the direction your char is moving?

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I know I was badmouthing Torchlight, but just to put things into perspective:

Torchlight: $15
Fate: $5 (at Walmart, of all places)

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I found the game fun until I beat it. After that, the endless dungeon didn't really interest me. There are no runs or much variety to keep it interesting. Hopefully the mods will open things up.

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I bought this game and i like it very much. Today the editor should be released and then I will try to do some modding.
Mods could keep this game alive over many years.

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Torchlight Fan November 10, 2009 2:05 AM

RE: Upaut

There is an option in the settings to show objects behind walls. If this is on you will see monsters as a "Negative" image... white/red and glowing. it's not directly viewable but it's enough to allow you to identify monsters lurking behind the scenery.

Just got this game two days ago and it's definitely satisfying my hunger for Diablo 3. Hopefully it can hold me over until then... whenever that might be. I'm not holding my breath.

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Even though playing this game, hearing about it and seeing the graphics style I was IMMEDIATELY reminded of Fate. I mean, it has the fish changes your dog/cat feature and everything.

How peculiar, my impression is that it's just a minor upgrade to Fate that probably costs more since it seems to be getting a lot of publicity.

I guess I'll try out the game now. trollface.jpg.

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I picked this game up a little while ago and had some fun but have already stopped playing. I have a hard time putting my finger on it, but it is somehow a lonely play experience.

Maybe it's the combination of the friendly, cartoony style of the game mixed with the fact that you spend all your time along in these dark dungeon levels below the town, or the fact that you never see daylight, or the fact that you have all these RPG-lite elements (loot, levels, etc.) but never interact with anybody (real or NPC) other than to pick up generic "kill" quests, etc.. I don't know. All I know is I got depressed playing the game.

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I find it hilarious that people are actually turned off by graphics in a game. Some of the best rated games on JiG look like dog meat - but are still good because of their playability. And you can tell that the graphical direction in Torchlight was leading more towards short development time rather than coming out after Diablo 3.

I think without cut-scenes, story in a Diablo-like is only gonna get in the way.

And if you don't straight up like killing things, nicking all their loot, buying a bigger sword and then killing those thing's parents, then a Diablo-like is not for you. If it is your bag, then this game is great, and I still come back to it now and then to rape and pillage the infinite dungeon.

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I absolutely love this game! The graphics are really good, and it is versatile (I play it on a laptop and it is brilliant!). It presents a challenge, and I very much prefer it to Diablo (1&2) or Fate. I do have one thing to complain about though...

All of you who are complaining that Torchlight is too much like Fate, Diablo etc, why don't YOU try coming up with new game ideas AND put them into practice. There are only so many styles of computer games, and trying to make a succesful game with a new method of gameplay is very hard to do.

You can expand on old ideas, and maybe some of you have great new ideas, but (I repeat), you just can't break out of a set idea that thousands of people have about fantasy RPG games. I am a VCE student in Media and IT, and I know all the basics about the commercial side of computer games and how audiences percieve them.

Yes, Diablo will always be a classic, and Fate will always be a pretty good game, but Torchlight is also a great game, and if all you are going to do is compare it to other games (unless you're a reviewer) and try and spot the flaws, then what are you doing playing it?

You just have to remember the golden rule of any game: Have FUN!

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It is quite a bit like Fate, but I think the inventory system is a considerable improvement. Weapons, large and small, fit in one slot; unlike Fate's where if you found a tower shield you lost about one-fourth of your backpack room.
The story is a bit more interesting, even with the three fetch-and-carry quests going on. You're investigating wrong-doing, instead if questing to find one beastie at a certain level of the dungeon, and kill it. Fewer avenging chickens quests, only two people doing fetch-and-carry, and the bard is actually giving you quests to increase your fame, instead of simply taking your money.
Lastly, the characters look like they're in their twenties at least. You don't feel like you're sending some little kid and their Jack Russel into a dungeon crawl.

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snoop dogg January 8, 2010 1:48 PM

actually there is a mac version; i found it on isohunt. theres also a multiplayer mod supposedly - video of it can be found on youtube. as to its genuiness im not sure. why arent they puttin it out? i guess youre supposed to pay for the game but mods usually re free unless theyve worked out a license deal with the creator/distributor. anyways ive lost 4days in a row on this; great game!

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Anonymous January 9, 2010 11:14 PM

This game is AMAZINGLY similar to Fate. You even still use fish to transform your pets.

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I have to disagree with the review on the subject 'diablo genre'. God of War is a good example of a game in the same genre, that is, hack'n slash with top down camera. Torchlight's similarities with Diablo go down to subtle details! Even the music is way too similar.
.
Still, I don't think this is a bad thing. I actually prefer this cartoony visuals :D

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snoop dogg February 15, 2010 8:53 AM

actually there isnt a mac version someone just winebottled it or wined it up. need to figure how to add the extra compatibility layer so i could do the same with fate or any other game to make native window games playable on mac.

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Wangaren May 16, 2010 10:55 AM

The mac client is already out, went out on wednesday, together with steam for mac:-)

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I downloaded the free two-hours trial, and I was really worried about rushing through the game only to get as far as possible within the trial period. Usually I don't pay anything for a game - there's just too many free-of-charge alternatives on the web. But this one really got me. Gonna recommend it to some friends :)

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