The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

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Torchlight’s out

It’s pretty excellent. It’s also only $20, so you should probably just get it instead of listening to me rabbit on about it. But, if you insist.

First off: yes, it will run on your computer. The requirements are hilariously low — 800 MHz or better x86-compatible processor, 512 MB RAM, GeForce 2 or better video card. Despite running on ten-year-old hardware, though, it doesn’t really look like a ten-year-old game; the visuals have style to spare, and the effects are vibrant and pleasing. The models are large enough onscreen that it’s fairly easy to differentiate among them, so you don’t have that annoying issue where you can’t tell what the hell mobs you’re fighting without reading the tooltip. "Special" mobs are usually huge and have an aura, so they’re pretty easy to pick out from the crowd. The sounds are good on a whole, but the voice announcements when you raise a level or whatnot are a bit odd. Also the game suffers from rather a lack of damage-taking grunts; often I don’t even notice I’m getting hit until I get the "about to die" warning.

Playwise, the game is basically Diablo++. It’s obviously very strongly inspired by the original Diablo, and features the same structure of dungeon-below-the-town that game (and, yes, I know; many many MUDs before it) used. You have basically the same classes: Destroyer (Warrior), Vanquisher (Rogue), or Alchemist (Sorcerer), though they’re more versatile. The game features both random spell books like Diablo and skill trees like Diablo II, meaning you’ll always have access to important abilities that improve your class, but you’ll also still have the fun of discovering a powerful new spell. Loot is basically the same as Diablo, but magic items drop much more frequently (and, in return, sell for much less money).

Almost every annoyance from Diablo was ironed out in Torchlight. Durability is gone. Tetris inventory is gone. Gold taking up space is gone. Items being hard to pick up is gone. Constant trips back to town to sell things are no more; you now get a pet who can take loads of items back to vendor for you. The game plays like a really streamlined Diablo, with all the fun bits, like the horde of mobs and treasure, and none of the boring bits, like the walking back and forth to town every three minutes. The difficulty curve is somewhat kinder, also, and it doesn’t look at this point (though I have a long way to go) like it’ll pull the famous Diablo trick where the dungeon’s too hard for you to go any farther, so you need to go through again and powerlevel.

The visual style is bright and colourful, and really really fun to look at. The dungeon also has vertical elements, so you’ll be able to see where you’re going (or, sometimes, where you’ve been) from other areas, which is a neat effect. You can also see mobs scurrying along down below you on the next level, which is cool. The sound is fine though unremarkable, except for the town music; it’s very very clearly a reimagining of the music that plays in Tristram in the first Diablo, and that’s pretty funny.

I’m told they’re releasing a full editing suite shortly, so you can design new everythings for Torchlight — levels, mobs, items, classes, what-have-you. If that’s up your alley — and lord knows it is mine — then that’s a major plus right there. Runic is also planning to run its own mod database, so if they do a decent job you won’t have to crawl around shitholes like IGN and GameSpy trying to find them.

In all, it seems like Runic and I are completely on the same page. We both agree about what makes a game fun — maximise the fun bits, minimise the bullshit. It’s light, it’s quick, it’s action-packed, there aren’t very many cutscenes. You should probably get it. Oh, also: it’s twenty bucks. And it’s on Steam. And I guess there’s a demo, too. So, really, just get it. It’s good.


October 27th, 2009 Posted by | Games | no comments