Torchlight (PC, 7 hours)

I had a friend whose dad’s entire livelihood was Titan Quest, a game very much in the style of Diablo or Torchlight. When he wasn’t going to work or taking care of his kids, he was playing Titan Quest.  These style games do tend to be addictive, though not to the degree of World of Warcraft, let’s say. Torchlight is an artistically beautiful “skeleton-click” game from the people who brought you Diablo 1 and 2. There was a lot of hype surrounding Torchlight prior to its release and for good reason: it’s an enjoyable dungeon-crawler with really great loot to keep you interested.

Torchlight happens to be the name of the only town in the game. In town, you can sell items, buy items, and take on quests. After you agree to take on quests, a portal will zap you to the dungeon you need to be in for that quest. For those who have never played a dungeon-crawler, it’s a bit like an action RPG like Secret of Mana, except the whole fun of the game takes place in the dungeons. Inside the dungeons, you click on an enemy to attack it, and pick up its “loot” once the enemy is defeated. So much of the fun of this game is the loot. You are constantly determining whether the items enemies drop is better or worse than the items you already have equipped. If better, you equip it, then check out how much better off you are with your new sword, armor, etc.

A really brilliant addition to Torchlight is your pet dog. Now when you have more loot than you have spots to hold things, you stop and look at what you don’t need anymore. If you really don’t need it, give it to your dog, who takes a trip to town to sell the goods for gold. No longer do you have to slog back to town yourself when you’re carrying a valuable load. This little touch makes a big difference in terms of enjoyment. It was also really smart to have only one town – the town of Torchlight. If you’re ever unsure what the next best weapon / armor / ring is, chances are good it’s being sold in the only town. Also, there’s no backtracking. You’re either in the dungeon on a quest, or in town doing more mundane things.

The artwork in Torchlight is just great. The game wasn’t pushing the limits of PC hardware upon release, but the developers got so much mileage out of simple graphics. I saw an interview with one of the Schaefer brothers, who worked on the Diablo games before the Torchlight series. The interviewer asked “What’s different about making games this time around?” The answer was, “The tools [to make games] are so much better.” It’s clear that the team at Runic Games had an easy time working with the development pipeline. The game has a slight breeziness about it. Torchlight never crashed on me in my time playing it, and the loading times are minimal.

Dungeon-crawlers aren’t for everyone. A lot of people think they’re boring. Shawn Elliot on GFW Radio (podcast) mockingly called these style games “skeleton clickers,” a genre name I actually kind of like. Torchlight succeeds with a great simplistic art style, high quality voice acting, a smart one-town setup, and fun questing and looting. The Torchlight series is now a trilogy, so if you know you enjoyed this one, there’s probably more to enjoy in the sequels. Also, the sequels allow for multiplayer, which sounds like a blast. A fun time, if you’re into this sort of thing.

3/5

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