LTTP or ‘late to the party’ pieces are opportunities for me to catch up and write about games I missed out on the first time around. They may contain spoilers.
I’ve never finished Diablo. In fact, I’ve never ventured beyond the second or third floor; it just didn’t click with me at the time. Time passed and so did the ever popular Diablo II. By the time I upgraded my computer and was willing to give dungeon crawlers another look, Diablo II seemed dated so I gave Dungeon Siege a tour.
I didn’t finish that either.
The next game I wanted to try was Mythos, but the demise of Flagship Studios put an end to that dream. The next logical game I would have been Blizzard’s Diablo III, but from the ashes of the fallen Flagship Studios rose Runic Games who put together one of the finest Diablo clones to-date, Torchlight.
Town Portals, identification scrolls, guitar strums and proclamations of “full inventory”; these are the things that remind me of Diablo. All of these and other nostalgic tidbits were in Torchlight. It really is a Diablo clone for the modern age. But Runic Games was not blind to modern progresses. For example, I was no longer asked to play “Perfection” with my inventory nor was I worrying about damaging my precious loot. It’s definitely a more streamlined experience.
Each one of the three classes comes with a pet which served as a mule, a distraction for enemies and a healer if I wanted. I could even feed this dog or cat (I could choose either) fish and have it transform into a handful of other beasts if I needed it to. However, the most useful thing these pets could do was run back to town and sell in unwanted loot. That’s right: I could be in the middle of a dungeon, fill up my pet’s inventory and I could send him off to sell loot for me while I continue on my journey. That’s ingenious.
Playing as the warrior — or what Torchlight refers to as the “Destroyer” — was incredibly mundane at first. I walk over to enemy zombies or skeletons, bash them a couple of time with my hammer and repeat ad nauseam. Torchlight and the eventual obsession with obtaining better gear got a hold of me several hours later, but it didn’t address the fact that this game was pretty straight forward. Enemies will make a bee line towards me, I’d spam a few broad sweeping attacks and they’d keel over. There was very little strategy required and even then that was simple kiting.
During the course of my 20 hour adventure, I probably died less than a dozen times. Perhaps life is too easy as the warrior class. Perhaps it would be more challenging with the ranger (Vanquisher) or the mage (Alchemist). I’m not certain, but I am certain that playing on “Hard” wasn’t hard at all. I guess I will know with my next playthrough.
Torchlight does lend itself to multiple or extended playthroughs. In fact, I could continue my warrior’s adventure through the randomly generated if I wanted to. I rather not though. I rather start an adventure with a ranger or a mage and start a new adventure on “Very Hard” with some of the gear my warrior couldn’t use in his adventure and deposited in the “Shared Stash”. It’s nice to have this kind of self trading mechanic since there’s a disappointing absence of multiplayer in Torchlight.
The absence of multiplayer, the limited variety in the gear and bestiary or the flimsy story; these could be easily forgiven thanks to Torchlight’s excellent price tag of $19.99. It has sharp art direction, it runs on nearly any computer hardware released in the last two or three years and it scratches the dungeon crawler itch superbly. The only reason not to play Torchlight is if you hate dungeon crawlers.
P.S – It only took 14 years and a modern day clone of Diablo for me to finish my first dungeon crawler. Imagine that.
For more information on Torchlight, visit the official site.