Torchlight first came to light in 2009 through the Steam platform on the Windows platform. Two years later it’s finally hitting Xbox LIVE as part of the House Party promotion. Is Torchlight worth having a look or should it be locked away in a dungeon?
We are holding a competition to win a copy of Torchlight on XBLA, details after the review.
HERE’S WHAT’S GREAT ABOUT IT…
From the moment you begin Torchlight you’re not going to have any trouble figuring out what to do. You’re a hero and Torchlight is a small town so you can explore it quickly. Characters that have quests for you will be marked on the mini-map and vendors of various types each have their specific icons on the map. Basically, Torchlight is a game with some depth but it keeps things simple so anyone can pick it up and play right away.
THE MINES RUN DEEP
Due to the depth of the ember mines and the extra dungeon maps you can obtain, you’ll find at least fifteen hours of straight up gameplay in Torchlight. Once you enter the mines you have to explore each area to make it visible on your map, and you’re going to want to explore every nook and cranny so you can find all the loot and gold. You’ll battle varkolyns, spiders, and trolls and much more while delving deep in the dark mines. You may find phase portals within the mines which allow you to travel to another floor or a completely separate area, but be warned you may have to fight masses of enemies in order to get the loot and return to the last area. Talk to vendors in town and in the mines and you can buy extra floor maps to access more areas which helps to extend the gameplay even further. If you’ve played the PC version, don’t be afraid to check this one out because there are new floors, a new pet, and more!
HACK, SLASH, MAGIC!
Hack and slash games aren’t for everybody, but for those of you who enjoy this style of gameplay are going to love Torchlight. You take on quests from people in the town of Torchlight, and in the mines you have to search chests and kill every enemy you see to obtain specific items, or simply eliminate certain enemies to complete those quests. You’ll loot tons of items including weapons, armor, magic spells, and more from your enemies and depending on the requirements of the said items you may be able to equip them and raise your character stats. Combat works best when you use a mix of magic and melee damage in some cases, but you’ll learn some enemies are resistant to particular types of attacks.
SKILLS & POWERS
As you level up your character in the game you’ll unlocking stat and skill points to use on a variety of powers. You have the basic stats including strength, dexterity, magic, and defense, each level gained will provide you with five stat points to split between those categories. Depending on your character, you’ll find you rely on some stats over others, for example, a mage will likely have high defense and magic. Also included with each level is one or two skill points which have their own unlock tree. Each skill can be a maximum of level ten and you can learn powerful magic such as ‘Doomquake’, or you can increase your armor effectiveness, and decrease the requirements to use high end equipment. One skill can actually upgrade your pet to make it much faster and increase its combat skills.
Coming from a PC to a console is always a challenge and one of my worries was the inventory screens and the heads-up display (HUD). With these types of games it can be rather cumbersome to play with a controller rather than a keyboard, but Runic Games has managed to streamline the process in a way that makes it feel like Torchlight naturally belongs on the Xbox 360 platform. You can equip up to four spells in your skill set and they can be mapped to B, Y, RT, and LT. You can set up two skill sets and switch between them in the skills menu if there’s a different combo you wish to use at any time. Within the menu you can hit X to swap items between yourself and your pet which is great to free up space, plus you can send your pet to town to sell items and bring back the gold. Comparing weapons and armor to see stats can be toggled with the D-pad and all information seems to be straightforward. Newcomers might have to play around with the menus for a few minutes to learn what’s what, but they should quickly take a liking to the setup.
Torchlight is a really beautiful game in all aspects. Compared to its PC counterpart you might find the colors to be slightly duller, but only if you played the game on an amazing monitor with the highest possible settings. The XBLA version is no pushover, and it offers off a really beautiful underground world to explore. Battles can really heat things up on screen and you’ll have thousands of tiny colored particles exploding along with ice, fire, and other types of spells being added to the mix. You’ll explore mineshafts, molten tunnels, and magical looking caves, all of which have unique designs that will have you awestruck.
AND THE NOT SO GREAT…
HOW DID FAIL THAT QUEST?
Whether it’s outdated, or a developers’ choice in games of this nature, I’m annoyed by a small factor. When you’re on a quest for a specific item, I wish the game would eliminate the possibility of selling that item accidentally. Early on in the game I realized I had outstanding quests that I was sure I had obtained the items for and I realized that I had been selling my inventory constantly to keep room for more loot. Unfortunately the items I had for a few quests were included in those items, and little did I realize the game would allow me to sell them. For a loot-based game such as this, I truly wish it had a safety feature against doing this.
In the case of Torchlight, I really feel the technical issues are due to hardware limitations and I can’t fault Runic Games at they’ve done the best they can. In larger-scale battles you’ll have so much occurring on screen that the framerate can take a dive for the worst. In the first twenty floors this issue will be minimal, but as you progress deeper and into the higher character levels you’ll find it happening more and more. It’s playable still, and sometimes it acts more like a slow motion video, but at times the game can run a little chunky. In addition to this issue there’s a tiny amount of screen tearing. It’s not nearly as frequent as framerate drops, but it should be mentioned. Maybe we’ll even see it fixed with a patch? It’s been done in other games.
LET’S WRAP UP…
Torchlight is an exceptional mix of visuals and gameplay and it truly deserves a home on Xbox. Even with a few technical issues the game offers a very smooth experience and it’s extremely fun and addictive. It’s got all the PC content and some extra stuff packed in to increase the value, and for only 1200 you can find your immersed in the world of Torchlight for hours on end.
Hack and slash gameplay at its best, and combined with magic it's a truly addictive experience. Massive battles can leave you with rough framrate drops but it remains playable.
It looks almost as beautiful as the PC version, but there's some minor screen-tearing.
Decent background music to keep the mood, and some basic voiceover work help to bring the game to life.
We are giving away one code for the XBLA version of Torchlight via Twitter. To enter, you must be following @Gamergeddon and RT the following message:
Win Torchlight #XBLA from @Gamergeddon & @runicgames #GGTorchlight. 1 RT per person, winner picked at 3PM EST on Mar. 7