Torchlight Review
Torchlight box art
System: PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Runic Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Runic Games 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 27, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating:Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
The Call of Loot
by Andrew Groen

As a single-player, dungeon-crawling experience, Torchlight has substantially raised the bar for what we can and should expect from future entries in the genre. Even the long-awaited Diablo 3 will have a lot to answer for now that we have such an excellent precedent for the modern era.

Torchlight screenshot

The Torchlight team is comprised of years of experience working on some of the greatest dungeon-crawlers of all time, including Diablo and Diablo 2. This wealth of experience has combined to create a game whose many elements tie together wonderfully to create a cohesive, though perhaps heavily derivative, RPG. And here's the kicker: it only costs $20.

Torchlight plays like I imagine Diablo 2 would play if all of the fluff and annoying parts were stripped out. While this means that the game has great influences, sometimes those influences are a bit too prevalent. If you're a Blizzard fan, you'll instantly recognize the "squad-like" behavior of many enemies - a group of weaker enemies will often have a commander of some kind, such as a Shaman that can resurrect the weak enemies. And I could swear that I once saw the spitting image of the giant dwarf statue from outside World of Warcraft's Ironforge inside one of Torchlight's fortresses. Warcraft obviously played a big role in inspiring the art and architectural style of Torchlight.

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Though it has very visible influences, Torchlight is not without its own innovations. Chief among these is the pet companion that players bring with them on their adventures. This pet is incredibly useful and represents something that should be included in every dungeon-crawler from this day forth. The pet is not just helpful in combat, but it also serves as a second inventory bag. The very best part about this is that your pet can be loaded with loot you don't need and sent back to town to deliver the goods to the merchant for gold.

Torchlight screenshot

The other unique aspect to this game is the fishing mini-game that is interspersed throughout the world. In certain places you'll find fishing spots, and clicking on them will bring you to a fishing mini-game which requires you to time your clicks in order to catch fish. These fish can then be fed to your pet in order to heal them, and also to change them into different creatures with special powers and abilities for a limited time. It's a unique feature that adds depth to an already deep game.

It's not all good news though. Torchlight lacks multiplayer support of any kind, which I can't help but feel is a pretty big omission for this type of game. Especially in a genre where online and LAN games have been a staple for years. Despite not having a multiplayer component, Torchlight includes a full modding set with the retail package, providing the possibility for tons of user-generated levels to be added to the mix.

Torchlight screenshot

That said, the game does seem to be designed more as a single-player experience, so there won't be too many times when you're wishing you had friends around. In general, environments tend to be narrow passages that would cause a lot of crowding if more players were involved.

Screenshots / Images
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