Torchlight

Reviewed by Tap on Apr 10, 2010
Rating
m
4/5
(Great!)
Game Overview
Publisher:
Runic Games
Developer:
Runic Games
Release Date:
October 27, 2009
Platform Reviewed:
Personal Computer
Platforms Available:
Windows
Mac
Xbox 360
Features:
Single-Player
Requirements: 
Windows XP or later, OS X version Leopard 10.5.8 or Snow Leopard 10.6.3 or later, 512mb RAM, x86-compatible 800MHz processor, and DirectX 9 or OpenGL 2 support with 64mb or more video memory. The initial install takes about 400mb of space.

Players: 1

Runic Games wanted to make a dungeon crawler, and they succeeded. They plan to eventually release a MMORPG based on the Torchlight universe. Does this mean you should just wait for the MMORPG and skip Torchlight? Well, let me explain the details before you decide.

Torchlight is an action RPG of the "dungeon crawling" style. It greatly resembles Diablo, but it is much more than a Diablo clone. It has randomly generated dungeons, meaning every character sees a different dungeon, furthermore, every time you play, you have to relearn where things are. Some levels don't change, mind you, because they're designed for boss battles.

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The visuals are crisp and beautiful with lush colors and stylized characters. The environments are full of lights and interactive objects, like chests and levers. The only downfall is the lack of a 3d camera. I, personally, hate the inability to rotate the camera view. That really isn't a big deal in this game, though, and you will never find an actual need to rotate the view. Also, the ability to zoom in and out remains, allowing you to see things up close or from a bird's eye.

Note: A trainer exists called TorchCam. It gives you the 3D camera controls you expect of 3D games with lots of customizable options. It doesn't break the game at all. I use it myself on a regular basis.

Every dungeon crawling game needs loot. Torchlight doesn't disappoint. It has chests, desks, and breakable barrels, amongst many monsters, all of which drop scrolls, weapons, gems, and armor! Equipment can be enchanted at magical fonts for free or at enchanters for a fee. Enchantments give equipment extra qualities, like "+2 fire resistance" or "4 health stolen on hit," and if your equipment has empty sockets, you can equip gems to them, similar to materia in Final Fantasy VII, to gain even more enhancements.

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There are three character types, all of which have a specific stat enhanced from start. The warrior is a bulky male character who relies on brute strength, the marksman is a thin female character who relies on long range weaponry, and the alchemist is a thin male character who relies on magic. Each character starts with their most useful stats, but you may ignore the starting stats if you want a female brute or a male archer or even a bulky magic user. I must be honest, the characters seem quite limited in the customization area, at first, but they can become far more varied as they "level up" and learn skills.

While on the subject of skills, you get one point to put on one skill every time your fame or experience level increases. Skills are in the form of tree lists, but you are not required to learn any skill before or after another. You are given total freedom in the choice of what to learn.

Whenever your experience level increases, you get five points to add to your base stats, which are strength, dexterity, magic and defense. These stats determine what weapons and armer you can wield. Higher strength means better use of swords and blunt weapons, higher dexterity means better use of bows and guns, and higher magic means, you guessed it, better use of spells and wands. Defense, of course, determines how much armor you can wield and how little damage you take.

You can get hurt from the enemy characters, of course, but there are also some traps hidden (poorly) within every dungeon. Traps come in the form of fake chests, exploding barrels and even the occasional ambush by monsters. These traps are actually a welcome form of entertainment rather than an annoyance. You can also use traps against enemies, but if you're playing in casual or easy mode, they aren't really needed, but they're there if you want to mess with them.

The music is nice but nothing special. The character voices are also nothing spectacular but not bad. The sound effects are very well used, though. I really like the sound effects.

The story is almost non-existant, giving Torchlight a much more arcade feel than I would have wanted, and whenever a character talked, I tended to just skip the conversation, because I didn't feel like reading scrolling text. However, this game isn't about its story, it's about the dungeon looting and character leveling, and it excels at that goal.

Overall, I love this game, and I see myself sticking with it for a couple years into the future, both because I'm cheap and Torchlight is fun. I strongly recommend this game as a solid RPG for PC.

Places you can buy this game include the official site, Steam, and retail stores. Steam has been known to sell the game as low as $5 during sales. The usual price is $20. I say get it through Steam, because it's easier to keep updated and you get achievements. Also, if you lose your saves, the Steam version automatically downloads a backup. All versions of Torchlight share the same saves. I recommend trying the demo first. If you like the demo, it's easy to upgrade to the full version.

Torchlight's biggest flaw is the lack of any multiplayer or coop features. Torchlight 2 intends to fix this with a new coop feature. It releases February 2011.

PC When we refer to PC, we mean personal computers, so be sure you read what operating systems support this game. Currently, we review games for Mac, Windows, Linux, and DOS.

Another thing to look for when browsing PC games is the system requirements. There are really 4 things you need to worry about: RAM or memory, processor, video card, and finally, the hard drive space. Memory can be upgraded fairly easily, and it shouldn't cost much. We recommend having at least 1GB memory, 2GB if possible. Your processor needs to be fairly modern, and a Pentium 4 probably won't cut it. We recommend a 1.8Ghz Core 2 Duo or better. Your video card should support DirectX 9 (or higher) and have a minimum of 256mb memory attached to it. We recommend 512mb or greater. Hard drive space is subjective, but we recommend having a fairly large amount of space. You could settle for as little as 40gb and be able to play most games, but we recommend having 80gb or more space to make sure you have room for multiple games at once. Most PC games don't run straight from their disc. They usually require an install process, and most modern games require around 8gb of free space to install.

PC controller PCs are the ultimate game console, because they can be upgraded, and they will never go out of style. PCs can also play most old game systems through emulators, so if you lose your Playstation, you can just play your games on your PC. You can also play classic arcade titles and have infinite coins!

A lot of people complain about having to use a mouse and keyboard to play PC games. This isn't a requirement, fortunately, and we have what we call gamepads or joypads. Yes, we can use game controllers! We can even use Xbox controllers! That said, it's not as plug-and-play as a game console, and some games simply will not work with your joypad. Fortunately, Steam tells you if games support controllers, and if your favorite game doesn't support them, you can map the controllers to keyboard and mouse controls.

Just be careful when buying PC games. Read reviews carefully. If a game gets a 1/5, don't buy it. If your PC is a cheapie, don't expect modern 3d games to work. Read the system requirements very carefully. If you don't know anything about your system, you can find help in the PC Stuff forum.
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