My experience of “Torchlight” is that of a game that pulled inspiration from the source but went it’s own way. This was not my experience 6 years ago after playing “Torchlight 2.” Looking back on that earlier review I will definitely be returning to that game and seeing if the harsh criticisms I gave still hold up. This is a game that obviously takes inspiration from the APRG that “Diablo” is one of the most obvious starting points. Given how much my analysis has hopefully grown since that time I plan to return and do a replay to see if I still generally agree with the initial review. I really enjoyed this game to the point of finishing it over a weekend. I can see the “Diablo” dark inspiration but the “Dungeons and Dragons” inspiration seems more-so as I hardly remember goblins, trolls and dragons are something this game did really well. I don’t remember “Torchlight II” doing this as well.
“Torchlight” was created by Runic Games and published by Perfect World.
The story follows your character who is an Destroyer, Alchemist or Vanquisher as they arrive in the town of Torchlight as you are pulled into Alric and his plot tied to the powerful corrupting Ore of Ember as you investigate the source of the corruption.
The World – The world is fantastic. This world feels like it more pulled from “Dungeons and Dragons” than Diablo as you fight through a goblin fortress, a corrupted Dwarf keep and a hellish landscape dominated by Dragonborn and demons. It is really cool and your character is naturally pulled in as you follow an adventurer who is tracking his leader Alric. Syl his apprentice is the main person trying to stop Alric after her corrupts the third member of their party Brink is transformed into a monster by Alric, solidifying his corruption and drive for power at any cost. The fact that this story is what you are investigating as Alric’s journals give you taste of what each area will be like really enriches the game and makes the world rich.
Gameplay – The gameplay is a lot of fun for a dungeon crawler. I never felt overpowered and had to strategize to get through some areas. What helped along those lines was the level variety and unique bosses as well as the fact that you have a pet who can sell your gear in town.
Level Variety – There is a huge level variety that stood out for me more than “Torchlight II.” The goblin fortress feels like a goblin fortress and it makes sense that they’d set a big troll on you that they control and heal. Same goes with the corrupted Dwarf Fortress being ruled by a Demon and the undead area being ruled by ghosts. The levels made sense and built upon each other, which only enriched the world and the experience.
Unique Bosses – The one thing all the bosses have in common is that they are almost always bigger than you. What is different is how you fight them. You fight a giant Troll that you can only beat after you kill the goblin healers who are constantly calling in adds and you fight a demon who replicates herself so you have to focus down the real one and then the final boss has constant adds that he kills to heal and it becomes a war of attrition. The final boss fight feels worth it in the end and it is a victory you earn. In the first game The Dark Alchemist was difficult and I think the only one I died against but didn’t even compare to the difficulty of the dragon Ordrak.
The Pet – One of my biggest issues with APRGs and Dungeon crawlers is the need to go back to town to sell loot or simply dropping loot in order to wait for the good drops. Having a pet that fights with you and sells your gear solves this. This is one thing I wish “Diablo III” had done as it would have solved the overload of gear problem that none of the “Diablo Franchise” really addresses.
Story – The story is simple, but it works. You are helping Syl stop her corrupted master from summoning Ordrak who will conquer and corrupt the world. When you fight Ordak he clearly can do this as he sets tons of Dragonborn and undead against you over the course of the battle. To get this point you fail to save Syl’s friend Brink and you get corrupted by the Ember too. Syl saves you from the corruption only to get captured and after you save her…only to get corrupted at the end when you hold Ordrak’s ember heart. It is well done even if on the face of it it is following the corruption ark of the Warrior in the first “Diablo.” There are enough “Dungeons and Dragons” elements as well as you following the story of the other adventurers to set it apart.
The Hero’s Motivation – Your character shows up but we don’t really get his motivation. I played the Alchemist and he was almost immediantly corrupted after defeating the final boss. There was not motivation and setup, which is a shame as I felt I got to know the characters who surrounded him.
I ended up really enjoying this game. So much so that I’m giving “Torchlight II” another chance. Here is my Old Review of Torchlight II. This was a solidly great game and I enjoyed my time in the universe as well as the fact that I could keep on playing after defeating Ordrak. The graphics and world feel unique and I’m really curious to see if “Torchlight III” will be any good. If you are looking for an older dungeon crawler to play, definitely check this one out.
Final Score: 9 / 10 It is a shame the sequel doesn’t live up to the original. This one improves on the gameplay of the first “Diablo” while still telling an original story without getting cartoony.