First < day with Torchlight

(yes, the Lesdanaday -is- a unit of measurement)

It’s got tons of little things, some more little than others, that make it utterly impossible to go back to Diablo II (or any other dungeon crawl isometricky cRPG) with any sense of satisfaction. Wouldn’t be surprised if D3 ends up lifting some of this stuff from Torchlight. In no order of importance:

+ It’s pure, unadulterated, 100% raw cane fun, and that should be the zeroth law and mandate of any game of this ilk.

+ Your pet. You can choose kitty or doggy. You can name it. It’s got its own inventory space. When your space is full, you can pass stuff to the pet and send it back to town to sell it so you can keep going. After a while it joins you again in the dungeon. It takes longer to come back the deeper you are. You can teach it spells and it has a few equipment slots, so you can customize your companion like that. Make it a healer, a summoner, a caster – whatever rings and pendants you can equip, it can too. If you find a fishing spot you can catch fishies that when fed to your pet they can temporarily transform it into something else, with different strengths and weaknesses. Brilliant.

+ When you are in town you can access your own character vault, or another vault which is shared between all your characters. Found something you don’t want but would be nice for another character? Stick it in the shared vault.

+ Mapping actions, skills and spells to your KB/Mouse layout takes a minute to learn and after that is smooth usage all the way.

+ If your character meets the stats requirement of the item, you can equip it. Period. That keeps it interesting and opens up a layer of customization via pure itemization to jitter things a bit and keep them fresh. The skill trees are visually short, but lean – some skills are more useful than others, but I couldn’t find any terrible ones.

+ Other than a healer, you’ll find pretty much everything you need in town, including NPCs for side quests, item enchanters, a guy to transmute your equipment into something else (think Horadric Cube), the option to remove gems from your socketed items to use them into a new one, sellers with a good selection of items and so on.

+ Music is very good. The town is Tristram all over again (heard it was composed by the same person, so there you go). Voice acting is good, which in this day and age it’s as miraculous as Led Zeppelin getting back together, with John Bonham back from the grave and all.

+ I hear it’s very easy to mod, which is always a great plus.

+ Combat is fast, violent, bloody and pyrotechnic. What’s not to like?

On the not so plussy side, so far:

– It’s ITEM HELL. Good equipment drops waaaay too much and often for my taste. I’m sure this will be modded within hours of the tools being available, because as it is now it’s rather silly.

– Ditto with xp gain, a bit too much and fast for my liking. Again, I’m sure this will be modded in short order.

– I miss the feeling of open world and sideways exploration D2 had, with the roaming around the countryside, visiting new lands and towns and so on. In Torchlight you get the visual changes in scenery as you go deeper into the mountain, but it’s not the same feel. It certainly feels more on rails than D2.

– Wish there was more sidequests available, even if they’re short, to break the feeling of constantly being “on track”.

—————-

It does by far most important things right, and better than the games before it. And you can tell it was made with a lot of love. Every now and then you get games like this one, where it’s easy to tell they were loved. Somebody held its hand, taught it right from wrong, and it shows. The annoyances it has are small enough to tolerate, or can surely be modded away.

It’s $20 and still a steal at twice the price.

26 thoughts on “First < day with Torchlight”

  1. I love the kitty/doggie thing. It’s a total call-back to the roguelikes. Brilliant idea, and apparently works very well.

  2. I’m not sure, did this qualify as bullet points? I see it is a plus/minus system but it does resemble a bullet point list. I’m going to have to go to the judges on this. Anjin?

    1. I don’t do bullet points. I do +/- because I hang with the cool kids from around the block, behind the tackle and bait shop, couple of blocks down from Sid’s place, ‘cross the street from the laundromat.

      You know the place.

  3. As to the sidequests, you can buy those dungeon maps in town, and give yourself a quest to clear it out.

    I’m loving that there’s less “by the numbers” questing, and more self-driven question. “I Will Go Through This 10-20 Dungeon, and Not Use a Health Potion!” I failed that one twice last night.

    I wonder how long the main storyline is, I’m ~level 15, and would maybe like to finish the main storyline before trying the other character types.

    Is there a way to respec? I’m digging my Electric Stomping-Dual Wielding Barb^h^h^h^h Destroyer, but I’d like to try a shield.

    1. Also there’s a guy in town (sorry, can’t remember the name, but he’s on the south side of the map) whose whole schtick is to give out quests where he opens a portal to random dungeon, and you dive in to do the quest.

    2. No way to respec that I’ve found, but I’ve read it’s very easy to mod.

      Easy as in: The functionality is already there via a “respec potion” you can buy in town. It’s not present in the game by default, but a simple mod can activate the item and let it appear.

  4. My favorite thing I’m hearing about this game is the pet thing. Which they stole from a game called Fate. Which is a Diablo clone. Ah, the cycle of stolen game mechanics.

      1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torchlight

        “Development of the game is led by Travis Baldree, designer of Fate, and Max Schaefer and Erich Schaefer, co-designers of Diablo and Diablo II, joined by the team that developed Mythos.”

        But Diablo borrows heavily from Roguealikes. Fate added the pet feature of Roguealikes. Rogue has been around since the 1980s.

    1. I’m cool with stealing game mechanics. I’m also glad the idea of round wheels was stolen. Why fit octagon wheels when round are clearly, obviously, superior?

  5. You didnt mention that it is also buggy as hell, having every bug conceivable, failing to load, crashing, failing to INSTALL, SFX disappearing, slowdowns, black screens…its basically a beta-version.

    “Music is very good.”
    Thats good, because sfx randomly stop working, so music will be the only thing you’ll be listening to until restarting the game.

    “And you can tell it was made with a lot of love. ”
    And a lot of programming failures.

    1. Didn’t mention because his experience was not as yours was I’m guessing. I have not seen any bugs at all. Nothing like you have described.

      1. Didn’t mention bugs, screwups, lockups, bluescreens and the like because I’ve experienced zero of those. Can’t report what didn’t happen.

    2. Installed in under 5 minutes and runs perfectly. I can’t say it will hold my attention for more than a week or three but from a technical standpoint I haven’t hit a single problem in the first 3 hours of play.

    3. You’re in the extreme minority here. I’ve played it for multiple hours on my primary PC and netbook with zero issues.

    4. My copy has crashed three times now; each time, on reloading, I get sent back and have to redo the level. I’m hoping they release a patch soon.

  6. I’m very excited about this game. My husband bought it on Steam yesterday and I’m hoping to be able to play it today.

    From the reviews I’ve read and the 5 minutes I saw him play yesterday, and being a Diablo fan myself, it definitely seems like something I’ll enjoy playing.

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