Torchlight

With fast-paced combat, a distinct atmosphere, a variety of options to help you explore the dungeons, Torchlight is a wonderful choice for gamers looking to tide them over until Diablo 3

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Perfect World Entertainment Torchlight
  • Perfect World Entertainment Torchlight
  • Perfect World Entertainment Torchlight

Pros

  • A terrific game that perfectly recaptures the spirit of Diablo and improves upon it in many ways

Cons

  • If you don't dig the loot-grind of action-RPGs then you're going to get bored pretty quickly with its flimsy storyline

Bottom Line

It looks like that terribly long wait for Diablo 3 just got a bit shorter. Torchlight, a new dungeon crawler courtesy of some of Diablo's own devs has hit store shelves. An expansive fantasy world with addictive fast-paced combat and a budget price tag, Torchlight is a must-own for fans of the loot-n-grind genre of dungeon crawlers.

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The French have a term known as "amuse-bouche" which literally translates into "mouth amuser." It's used to describe a well-composed morsel which is served before a meal that should whet the diner's appetite for the main course. The concept of amuse-bouche can also be applied to game design: A short, focused experience is frequently the best way to present an idea and that's the genius behind Torchlight, an action-role-playing game designed by some of the original creators of Diablo. It presents the best aspects of the genre -- such as the obsessive loot collecting-in a perfectly portioned size and acts as a wonderful appetiser to tide you over until Diablo 3 arrives.

It showcases the addictive nature of action RPGs and builds upon the formula set by titles such as Diablo and Fate. For instance, there is an amazing amount of weapons, armor, and trinkets to enchant and upgrade, and they sport a color scheme -- green for enchanted items, purple for set items and so on -- that will be immediately familiar to Diablo veterans. Of course, if Torchlight was nothing more than a Diablo clone, it could only achieve a certain amount of success but thankfully, Runic Games went the extra mile and added some tweaks that helps improve the established formula. One of the keys to Torchlight's success lies in your pet, a helper character that not only fights alongside you in combat but can cast spells, equip items, and serves as a pack mule that can carry extra items so you don't have to clutter up your own inventory with loot. The best part is, and again, this is a perfect example of how Runic rethought Diablo and sought to make it better, you can send your pet back to Torchlight to automatically sell off unwanted gear. Diablo players know well the repetitive grind of teleporting back to town in order to clear their inventory and fatten their coin purses so being able to have your pet take care of this menial task while you continue to explore the labyrinths beneath Torchlight is a real boon.

I also appreciated Torchlight's overall presentation and mood. Many action-RPGs have a dark and serious vibe, but Torchlight features a light, deft touch that really brings the game to life. It also cleverly turns fantasy conventions on its head: for instance, during my playthrough, I was surprised by a mechanized walker that stepped out of a corridor and began blasting me with a Gatling gun. There is also a ton of potential in the mod tools, which Runic will release when you read this. It wasn't available at the time of my review but enterprising players had already figured out how to alter the game -- I was able to find one mod that turned my pet into a powerful Dragonkin -- so I can only imagine what sorts of cool and useful mods will crop up once the official toolset releases.

In refining the Diablo experience, Runic has put its own stamp on the genre with Torchlight. With fast-paced combat, a distinct atmosphere, a variety of options to help you explore the dungeons, Torchlight is a wonderful choice for gamers looking to tide them over until Diablo 3. Just don't be surprised if you find this appetiser to be just as satisfying as a full meal.

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