Torchlight Review

Dec 12, 2009

Having played through it a few times now, I thought I'd post a few thoughts on Torchlight, the action role-playing game I've talked about a time or two here on the site. For those who don't already know, the game is essentially a Diablo 2 clone (with, what I would argue, are terrific updates). Read on for my take on this title.

The Good

Diablo 2 Clone
Few would dispute that Diablo 2 is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) action RPG's ever created. Often times, clones of stellar titles like that are weak. Thankfully, with Torchlight, that's not the case. Many of the developers who created Torchlight worked on Diablo 2, so they know how to make a triple-A title. All of that know-how has been put to good use here. At some level, Torchlight feels like a re-imagining of Diablo 2. It's as if the developers simply brought the look and feel into the 21st century, and that's a terrific thing.
Loot, Loot, and More Loot
By far one of the best attributes of this game is all of the loot that enemies drop. Magical items are great fun to find, and they drop with just enough frequency to hook you into looking for that rare, unique item. Set items are equally fun to find. This feature alone makes this game a collector's dream.
Great Performance
The game runs like a dream on my system, and works well on nearly all systems (so I've read). A netbook mode is even included to boost performance for older or underpowered systems. Being able to run the game on older hardware is a terrific design decision, especially in this age of ultra-realistic looking titles.
Great Looks
Despite it's ability to run on older hardware, Torchlight looks great. The cartoony atmosphere is fun to look at, and nearly all magic spells and character abilities result in terrific visual delights. Things can sometimes get confusing (especially when battling large groups of monsters), but in the end, the chaos adds to the fun.
I've already written about this terrific addition to the game, so I won't rehash it again. In short, this feature had better be in every action RPG from here on out!
Randomized Levels
With only a few exceptions (boss levels, mostly), all of the games levels are randomized. As a result, no two characters will ever see the same level layout twice. I've run across several traps and sights on my second and third times through that I didn't see before. There's no telling what I have yet to see, which I think is great.
It's Cheap
At only $20, how can you possibly say no to this game?

The Bad

Difficulty Scaling
Difficulty in this game is, on the whole, quite easy. But it scales in a strangely uneven way. On my initial play through, I played on the "Hard" difficulty level, and I was able to defeat all but one of the bosses with ease. The final boss is so much harder than all the previous bosses that the change is quite jarring. Likewise, all of the general enemies are very easy to up to the final boss level. All of the subsequent levels (in the never-ending (?) Shadow Vault) are substantially more difficult. This unevenness is hard to justify.
Weak (and Short) Story
The story is fairly weak, and relatively short (only about 30 levels worth of the game), but were we really playing this for the story? No, we probably weren't.
Only Three Classes
There are only three player classes you can experience: Vanquisher, Alchemist, and Destroyer. A few extra classes would have been welcome.
Skill Point Redistributions
If you do a bad job of distributing your skill points in the game, the final boss can become essentially impossible (as I found out on my first play through). There's a semi-official mod available that adds a "respec" potion to the game, allowing you to redistribute your points at will. At some level, having this ability from the get-go would have been welcome (though, it admittedly would make the game even easier).

The Verdict

This game is pure fun, no doubt about it. The price couldn't be better for what you get. I've played through the game with 2 of the 3 classes so far (I'm currently working my through with the last of the 3, the Alchemist), and I'm looking forward to going through again, trying different character builds in the process.



11:49 AM on Dec 31, 2009
I completed 60 levels of shadowvauult but it doesn't seems that it will ends.


7:14 PM on Jan 5, 2010
The Shadow Vault doesn't end, as far as I know. It just keeps going!

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