Harkening back to the simpler times of Diablo-esque dungeon crawling, Torchlight has been a hit on the PC for quite awhile, now it’s the time of the console gamers to get a taste of this little gem with it’s release on Xbox Live Arcade.
On load up you’re confronted with your traditional character class choice, Destroyer, Vanquisher or Alchemist… Essentially they’re a different way of saying Barbarian, Ranger and Mage. If you’ve played any form of these games over the years you’ll know what to expect. The Destroyer’s your heavy, wade in and dish out the damage with melee combat type, the Vanquisher is the hang back and dispatch the enemy at hand with ranged weapons and the Alchemist, well he’s going to be whipping up a magical storm with fireballs, lightning bolts and the such like.
Along with your character class you’ll also get to choose one of three pets, a cat, a wolf and a lizard thing. All three serve the same purpose so it’s purely down to your personal taste here. With your character and pet chosen and named it’s time to set foot into the town of Torchlight for the first time.
The town itself isn’t very large so you’ll find it easy to navigate and locate the various merchants and quest givers that you’ll have copious dealings with as you progress through the game. Then off to the west you’ll come across the first encounter, a few denizens of the depths attacking Brink and Syl. With the monsters defeated Brink heads off into the unknown leaving Syl behind, which is handy as she’s your main port of call for story related quests.
To be honest, that’s it as far as the story is concerned, strange things are afoot in the realms below Torchlight and it’s up to you and your pet to find out what’s going on and save the inhabitants from the terrors that lie below. It might not sound like much, but believe me it’s enough. Where Torchlight wins through is the gameplay and the loot… don’t forget the loot.
The controls have mapped across nicely from the PC version to the 360’s controller. Your bumper buttons are health and mana potions and they can’t be changed, along with the A button being “Interact” but other than that the rest of buttons and the two triggers can be set with whichever attack/spell you fancy, and there’s plenty of these to choose from. Not only that, but you can configure two skill sets that can be switched between on the fly using up and down on the D-pad.
I mentioned the loot, didn’t I? There’s tons of the stuff! You’ll soon find your 50 slot inventory filled with goodies. Weapons, armour, jewellery and ember fragments aplenty. Not to worry, your pet has an inventory as well and can be sent back to town to sell any items you don’t want. You’ll also find two stash chests in town, one personal and one shared. The personal one is just for the character you’re currently playing, whilst the shared is available to all characters you’ve got on the go.
Essentially the gameplay isn’t that complicated, it’s a matter of progressing through the dungeon levels collecting the loot as you go and eventually getting to the “Big Bad” at the end of the section and beating that before heading back to the surface to take a break and sell your unwanted trinkets and try your hand at enchanting some items for bonuses. Then again some of the greatest games of all time haven’t exactly had complicated gameplay have they? The complexity comes from the skill trees and setting up your character. Although there are only three classes, the wealth of options available on the trees is enough to keep you pondering where to spend you hard earned skill points for quite a while. Trying to decide if my Alchemist was going to specialise in summoning minions to help or dish out the damage himself with some impressive looking electrical spells was a hard choice. If you don’t like the choice you’ve made there’s a respec potion you can buy that let’s you reclaim all the skill points and then start again.
Enter into this the sheer number of weapons, armour and their assorted bonuses that can be upgraded using enchantments and by equipping ember fragments into their slots, you’ll be kept busy for quite some time.
Let’s not forget your pet in all of this. They can dish out the damage for you too. You can also equip trinkets to enhance resistance to damage types and the damage they inflict. If that’s not enough you can teach them two spells as well. I can tell you it’s very useful having a wolf wandering around you summoning skeleton minions as well as flaming swords to attack the hordes just round the corner.
Eventually, once you’ve vanquished all that lays in wait your character can enter retirement. Now hold on, you’ve spent ages tweaking and equipping until you’ve got your chap/chapess just so, why would you want to retire them? Well doing so gives bonuses to the characters you create after them, but I’m not saying what. You’ll have to find that out for yourself.
The graphics don’t disappoint either, with a nice stylised cartoon take on the traditional RPG character types. There’s plenty of detail in the surrounding environments too, so there’s no excuse for accidentally setting off the exploding red drums. The myriad of enemies are also well designed, a bit too well designed if you’ve got a phobia of spiders. Things can get a little hectic when there’s a huge mob on screen and you’re throwing around fireballs and pounding things into the ground, but you can still tell what’s happening and where you are in all the mayhem.
There are only two downsides with this game. First, the camera angle is fixed. You can zoom in and out but you can’t rotate the camera to see what’s going on when you walk behind a wall sometimes, which started out as annoying but eventually I got used to it. Secondly, there’s no multiplayer. The PC version of this had co-op so you and your adventuring friends could trawl the dungeons and caverns together. But for some reason they cut it from this version and this is the one thing that this title is crying out for. The sequel to this is due out on PC later this year and there’s rumoured to be an XBLA version of this in the pipeline too. Hopefully they’ll include the co-op on that version.
Overall, this is a fantastic game that will keep you occupied for a good while, even without the co-op play, and one that deserves to be in everyone’s collection.