Archive for November, 2009

Torchlight

Torchlight

If you’re searching for the Diablo clone du jour, look no further: Torchlight it is.

On the completely arbitrary ‘number of hours it’ll keep you awake past your usual bedtime‘ scale I’m giving it a ‘3’ just to indicate that, yes, it will keep you playing. You’ve already fallen victim to it the second you’re thinking about whether you could tackle one more quest/floor or not – you’re as free to leave as a person who wants to quit smoking, but is holding a cigarette and a lighter in his hands. Yeah, good luck with that.

Torchlight in a nutshell: The game was developed by Runic Games, a company founded by former employees of Flagship Seattle. Thanks to the Hellgate fiasco, the team saw Mythos ripped out of their hands before it could be finished – a job that’s being taken care of by the South Korean publisher HanbitSoft and their internal studio. There are three classes available: the Destroyer (aka ‘tank guy’), the Alchemist (your friendly neighborhood mage), and the Vanquisher (assassin-esque class with a faible for guns and traps). You can name your character and the pet that will accompany him/her all through the game — don’t expect any customization options beyond that.

The pet — a concept Runic’s Travis Baldree had already established in Fate (link) — serves three purposes: It helps you fight your enemies and can be even equipped with spells, and it extends your inventory. Much more importantly: You can send it back to the village to sell the loot you collected and put into its inventory. Which is a really neat way to streamline the gameplay and get rid of an element that never was much fun to begin with. Selling off items is something you will have to do unless you have no interest in earning some money and getting your equipment enchanted. If you want to travel back, you still can use a town portal scroll, of course.

The art direction has a WoW-esque quality to it and is more on the comic side of things rather than trying to be incredibly realistic. It looks quite good and still throws some nifty effects at you, but Torchlight has surprisingly low system requirements and even features a “Netbook Mode” in its settings.

According to earlier statements, Runic is working on an MMO chassis for Torchlight which may or may not get released next year. While some sort of multiplayer part would be nice for some coop action, I’m holding its lack not against the game since it’s not a full price title. As Bill Harris said:

It’s a win cake, filled with win filling, with win icing on top.
The candles on the cake, of course, are made out of win.

Don’t get it for the story or though; it’s really generic and told through some brief dialogues and load screens. I sure wish the developers had added more depth to the world to make me care about the town or the characters roaming through it.

Note: Torchlight costs roughly 20 Dollars and can be bought directly from the developers. However, that version apparently comes along with an install limit (10 or so); if you’re not a fan of such approaches, you might also fetch it through Steam and the like. You don’t have to buy a pig in a poke: There’s a demo available.

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