Torchlight - Xbox Live Arcade

You know the world isn’t always kind to us gamers who have a PC that can barely run Wolfenstein. We sit by the sidelines and hear about all of the amazing PC games that are coming out and think how great it would be if our computers could come even somewhat close to even begin running those games at a reasonable speed. Some games have definitely made it more painful than others, and right at the top of the list would be Torchlight. God did I ever want to play this game. There was even a brief glimmer of hope when it started to run only to continuously crash within about two minutes. I debated paying for an upgrade solely to play this title.

Thankfully for me and those like me the game is coming to Xbox Live Arcade next week. This does mean I can’t draw comparisons between the console and PC/Mac versions. What I can do is confirm that Torchlight is one hell of a game.

You know about Diablo right? Ok great that means we don’t have to do the standard comparison here because yes, Torchlight is very Diablo-esque. After selecting your main character class and the breed of pet that will serve as your sidekick, you begin the game in the titular town of Torchlight that serves as the hub world where you can buy and sell weapons, pick up some side quests and more. From here you also access the game’s primary dungeon where you will spend the majority of your time. The floors of the dungeon are randomized so the layout will be different each time you play. It sounds exciting but the dungeon design is pretty basic (run up some stairs, cross a bridge, run down some stairs, repeat) so a different layout does not make multiple run-throughs more enticing. No what does make them enticing is that the game is so much fun you will likely want to play it again for that sole reason.

Let me ask you this….you like loot? Because if so then welcome to your constant orgasm because this game has one of the best loot systems I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. You essentially know the drill. You defeat a horde of enemies and they leave behind some items. Maybe they’ll be useless armor, or maybe it’s an axe that’s twice as powerful as the one you are currently wielding. It can go either way. The good stuff you equip, the not so good stuff you sell in order to get even better stuff. The best part is that you don’t have to leave the dungeon to sell off your unwanted loot. You just load up your pet with all of the gear you intend to sell, and send him off to town. He won’t be around to help you fight for a short period, but he’ll soon return with a pouch full of gold. It doesn’t break up the action at all and means you never have to worry about traversing back and forth from dungeon and town to empty out your inventory.

Torchlight is a shining example of the “ok just one more” style of gameplay. “Ok I’ll just do one more dungeon floor. Ok I’ll just get enough EXP to gain one more level. Actually now that I’ve done that I’m pretty damn close to getting to the next fame level so I might as well just keep going. Well the boss is only two floors away so I’ll just go until I beat him. Hmmm he gave me almost enough EXP to gain a level so I might as well just finish his level off.” You get the idea. This game will eat away at your entire life. Well at least about 10 hours of it since the game does come to an end. Although once that happens you are given access to a dungeon that never ends, so yes, it will in fact eat away at your entire existence if you give it even the slightest chance.

On top of gaining loot, EXP and fame, you’re always acquiring new weapons and armor, upgrading your character’s stats, learning new skills and abilities, and you can even catch fish to feed your pet to get them to turn into other animals. There is always something to drive you forward.

It certainly helps that the game play itself is a lot of fun. It’s a hack and slash through and through but it’s well done, it’s a lot of fun and always satisfying taking on hordes of enemies. The one downside is that these hordes ca cause some immense slowdown in the action. Sometimes it would slow to an absolute crawl, while numerous other times the game would just stop completely, to the point where I assumed it had locked up. It would be a good 10 seconds sometimes before it started up again. It’s not a game ruiner by any means, but it’s a pain that happened far too often.

For visuals and audio, Torchlight is satisfactory. The music is solid but you’re going to hear a lot of the same voice clips and sound effects ad nauseum. At a certain point you should do what I did which is mute the game and listen to the commentary track for Pirahna 3D. Naturally right? Visually the game certainly looks good in terms of character models and overall aesthetics, but you won’t see a lot of variety in the environments. There’s not a great deal of difference between the locations, regardless of whether you are in a cave, a temple or what have you.

None of the above can take away from the most important thing however, which is that Torchlight is a lot of fun and completely addictive. I played through the whole thing in 3 sittings and I know I could have done it in 2 had my friends not ruined it by making me be all social and interact with actual human beings. Speaking of which, the lack of co-op is absolutely a bummer but I enjoyed the game solo so much that I can look past that.

If you haven’t played Torchlight before then you absolutely need to download this as it is more than worth it. If you’ve played it before, it’s certainly good enough to demand a revisit. Besides, pretty easy achievement points, so I guess there you go?