(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.