A Wonderful Game With A Lot Of Technical Problems
Torchlight, originally released in 2009, was a surprise PC hit from a small development team consisting of some of the guys that developed the two Diablo games. Due to it's success, the game has now been ported to the Xbox by way of the Xbox Live Arcade. Despite a myriad of technical problems, Torchlight is a wonderful throwback to older action RPGs and well worth the $15 price point for loot-whores like myself.
Torchlight tells the story of the town of Torchlight and a villain who threatens its very existence. The story has three or four characters that set up the background and give the player motivation throughout. But, to be totally honest, I didn't care about the story. It's not that it was bad, it was just that I was more interested in exploring, fighting, and specking out my character. The nice thing about the Torchlight story is that one can speed through the dialogue and cutscenes and get back to what Torchlight does best; action, exploring, and looting. The writing is just fine and the set up is good enough. I wasn't disinterested in the story because it was bad. I was disinterested in the story because I was much more interested in playing the game.
Torchlight can be summed up as follows; a mix of Diablo's gameplay mechanics with World of Warcraft aesthetics. Within the town of Torchlight is a large mine which consists of 35 floors. The main game focuses on progressing through those floors. As the player travels deeper and deeper more difficult enemies will appear as well as much better loot. Loot, as well as increasing the playable character's stats, is what drives this game. Throughout each floor, the player will come across hoards of enemies. Once they are killed, the player will become enamored with loot and gold. Like Diablo or Borderlands, increasing the stats, bettering the equipment, and changing the look of the main character is the main draw that will keep players progressing through the game. If that doesn't sound entertaining then Torchlight isn't for you.
There are a number of side-quests but they all involve searching the mines in what amounts to fetch quests. There is also a 'fame' rating along with the the character's overall level though I was never really clear as to what that rating did for the player besides provide an achievement once the maximum rating is reached. The only other real gameplay innovation that sets this game apart from games like Diablo and Borderlands is the inclusion of a pet. The player's pet is a fighting companion, another inventory where loot can be placed and can travel back to town to sell loot for the player so that the player doesn't have to leave the mine. It seems like a silly thing to add but the addition of a pet who can travel to town to sell loot really helps the flow of the game and keeps the player fighting and progressing rather then selling unwanted junk.
The controls are very responsive and easy to use. The player has direct control over the main character. The fighting is either focused on melee, long-range, or magical attacks. Managing the fighting is very easy and straight forward. There are also three character classes. I can't speak about each class, however, as I only played as a Warrior (which is essentially a tank class). The menus are surprisingly easy to navigate considering this is a port of a PC game. The fighting is kind of mindless and the game is very easy. But the game is fun regardless and the controls work perfectly fine for what the player is asked to do.
Torchlight is a bit of a mishmash technically. Artistically, the game has a very stylized look that I like a lot. As I mentioned previously, the aesthetic is very remeniscent of World of Warcraft. The mine also changes its visual theme about every fifth floor which helps keep the game visually interesting. The problem comes in the form of a very bad framerate. Of all the Xbox 360 games I've played, whether they were retail or on XBLA, this game has the worst framerate issues I've ever seen. As soon as one gets into a fight the game starts to stutter. At its worst, the game literally resembles stop-motion animation. This didn't affect the gameplay for me personally but I also made a character that was a melee-tank. If the player chooses a character that requires more precision than the framerate may be a big concern. The sound design is very well done. The ambient noise is perfectly reminiscent of the areas being explored and the music is beautifully arrange and composed.
Torchlight is a bit of a mindless action RPG. But, despite its simplicity, it is a very fun experience that one could easily play for many, many hours. I felt I was done with the game when I had reached the highest fame rating after I had finished the main game which was after nearly 12 hours of play. There is a lot of game to be played here. The framerate is disappointing and there isn't much here for players that aren't interested in loot and building stats. But, if you can look past the framerate and enjoy exploring and finding loot, Torchlight is a very good game you should look in to.