I really can't say enough good things about Runic Games' work with Torchlight. These kats really know how to capture what makes RPGs fun and engaging all while balancing accessibility with a very present sense of depth. This is probably the most well-rounded Xbox Live Arcade Game I've ever played. Best of all, Runic understands what it means to make a game only as long as it is fun. I've critiqued so many developers over the years for giving us more games where the fun ran out before the game ended. Runic knew that the Torchlight model would become routine over time, so they decided not to make this game wear out its welcome. And for this, I give them mad props. For those of you that don't mind the repetition and just want length of play, rest assured, there is an option to keep playing after you beat the game.
Since this is a console game, Runic was charged with boiling down the more complicated gaming interface of its PC brothers. This was a welcome simplification because Torchlight on 360 still gave me enough control over my character in combat and in customization to feel rewarded. Plus, for folks that didn't grow up playing PC games who may find some of the interfaces a bit daunting, Torchlight on 360 is very easy to pick up and play. From intuitive menus to ability mapping for combat, Torchlight is squared away.
Top this off with the fact that Runic Games gave Torchlight mechanics specifically designed to cut down on tedium. The greatest example is your pet who aids you throughout the game. Not only can you customize and grow your pet into a crazy workhorse fighting machine, you can also use him to return to town to sell items when your inventory gets full so that you can stay in the dungeon and keep fighting.
The following are the categories of gamers who I believe will enjoy Torchlight the most.
First and foremost, this game is all about Builders - While you only get three very basic classes with limited visual customization at the game's onset, rest assured that the true joy of customizing comes with playing the game, leveling and then choosing what your character will ultimately become. Even though you do choose between a Warrior, a Gunslinger, and a Mage, you can take comfort in the fact that none of these character classes marry you to a specific path. If you want your warrior to use ranged attacks or magic, simply equip him with the right weapons and have him learn what spells are available to him. You'll also get a fairly large amount of skills, weapons and armor sets for each character. Everything you wear shows up on the character adding a level of customization that even AAA titles don't provide consistently. Not only that, there is no ridiculously low level cap to stop you from customizing your avatar with skills to your liking. If you are willing to put in the time, you will be rewarded with a good amount of skills that you can make stronger over time.
Strategists - will enjoy the sense of variety Torchlight gives. The skills Torchlight allows you to develop give you a significant amount of options for taking out your enemies. Setting traps, casting haste or even summoning monsters to fight at your side can all play a part in how you dispatch your foes. The beauty with Torchlight is that - while simple in its approach - it affords you the ability to control the battlefield to your liking.
Gamers who may be slightly disappointed by Torchlight.
Collaborators - One of the things that made my experience with Sacred 2 so enjoyable was the ability to play it with friends. Torchlight aint havin' that. You'll be rockin' this joint Han Solo.
Bookworms - will feel slightly let down as the story is very obviously not the focus here. One saving grace for this type of player is the narrative. While the story is not overly deep or well developed, it is at the very least presented in an enjoyable and often humorous fashion.
Explorers - should enjoy Torchlight a good deal. For starters, this is a loot-mongering game much like it's forefather, Diablo 2. You will find more money, armor and weapons than you'll ever be able to use. Also, Torchlight gives you a decent amount of freedom to handle sidequests in the manner of your choosing. On the slightly negative side, just know that there's not much by way of actual exploration. Torchlight is essentially a dungeon crawl with a central hub town for buying and selling equipment and turning in completed quests.
Visualists and Audiophiles - I dug Torchlight's graphical style, use of color, the music and the sound effects. But I can't really say that any of these elements did anything significantly memorable.
If you dig RPGs you need to play Torchlight. Don't let the dungeon crawling aspect completely turn you away if dungeon crawling is not your thing. I've never really cared for Dungeon crawlers but felt Torchlight's accessibility, style and relatively short completion time kept the grinding and crawling from becoming too monotonous.
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