Torchlight #XBLA VVG IndieVerse Review
VVG IndieVerse Reviews
By: Mr. Deeke
Today on VVG Indie Verse XBLA Reviews we’ll be taking an up close and personal look at one of my favorite Xbox Live Arcade games called “Torchlight”. This game is, in a word, incredible–it is a hybrid of many Blizzard titles jam-packed together in such a way that combines great elements from other games to create an entirely new and original title.
Torchlight 1200 MSP
This game answers the call that console fans have been clamoring for ever since Torchlight’s release in 2009 for PC–an iteration of the immensely popular action role-playing game for consoles. Now fans can download one of their favorite PC games and play it a whole new way–with the interface of an Xbox 360 controller.
- Developer – Runic Games
- Publisher – Xbox LIVE Arcade
- Genre – Action & Adventure, Role Playing
- XBL Marketplace URL – Torchlight
- Release Date – 3/9/2011
- Try or Buy? – Buy
- Price – 1200 MSP
- Rating – 5/5
“Torchlight is an action-roleplaying game developed by the creators of popular games Diablo and FATE. Players will choose from among three character classes, and venture from the safety of the town of Torchlight into randomly generated dungeon levels, with a huge variety of creepy monsters, endless variations of loot to find, and quests to complete. Randomized levels and an ‘endless dungeon’ unlocked after completing the main game ensure a long-lived gameplay experience.”
–Xbox Live Marketplace description
I. Story Line
Torchlight has quite an epic and adventurous story-line; our hero travels to the city of Torchlight when rumors that there is unlimited abundance of the precious power-infused crystal known as Ember. Everyone wants Ember, and it is mined all across the lands and is essential to everyday life. Little does our hero know that Ember isn’t as magnificent as it appears–the magical crystal has a symbiotic effect that can drive even the most powerful heroes mad.
As the player mingles with the townsfolk to earn simple minor quests, and upon delving in the nearby mines our hero meets Brink and Syl who are warriors trying to brave the mines to retrieve the venerated Ember stones for their mentor, Master Alric. Alric has an ulterior motive, however, and little do Brink & Syl know that they are actual mercenaries for his nefarious deeds.
Along the way players learn that the power costs a heavy price–Ember slowly corrupts minds and can turn its beholders insane with power. Will our hero stop Alric from unleashing an onslaught of apocalyptic power, or will he be corrupted by the indomitable power of the Ember crystals?
II. Game Mechanics
The controls are very easy to use, and players can assign up to four buttons (B, Y, RT & LT) in two different lists for a total of eight mapped spells. Players can do melee attacks by pressing (X) and RB & LB control health/mana potions. Overall the controls are very fluid and uncomplicated to use, which is key for an action game such as Torchlight.
The townsfolk in Torchlight all offer something different to say and sometimes can provide hints for quests and other tasks. Each merchant in the town provides a different service; there is an Enchanter that will imbue normal items with magical properties, a Transmuter (die-hard fans of the Diablo series will recognize that this is similar to the Horadric Cube) that combines like-items, and even a Blacksmith that sells and buys high-quality armor and weapons.
The game’s mechanics are much like Diablo’s in terms of how environments are set-up–we can even see reflections of the upcoming Diablo III title within this game in terms of it’s view and level design. The graphics are also quite enhanced, yet they are more like World of Warcraft’s cartoonish and over-proportioned character designs than Diablo’s realistic scales.
As far as specific game mechanics go, there are a myriad of elements that come together to make this game an unforgettable role-playing experience; Characters, Skills/Stats, Quests, Inventory/Items, and the in-game User Interface.
- Characters: There are three different kinds of character classes for players to choose from in Torchlight–The Destroyer, a barbarian-like class that specializes in strength and melee combat; the Alchemist, who acts as the sorcerer/magician and can even summon allies; and the Vanquisher, who is an amazon-like class that specializes in bow & arrow combat. Each caste has their own unique set of three different skill trees that allow players to make hundreds of different combinations to tailor to their specific play-style.
- Skills / Stats: The abilities and skills that players learn throughout their conquest are what shape each one of their characters–the skill trees are huge and as expansive as players would expect them to be in a game like this. In the abilities and skills we can see influences from all Blizzard games, especially WoW. Each class has their own specialized skill trees that offer unique abilities on each, giving players the opportunity for a different experience each time. Stats and Attributes function dynamically and also form a character into an indomitable hero when used correctly.
- Quests: Torchlight offers a bunch of different quests, such as main quests and side-quests that offer certain rewards. All quests offer rewards that are very similar to WoW, especially in terms of the quest-log and how they are arranged in the journal. Quests are progressive, and so are the rewards offered for each task.
- Inventory/Items: The inventory in this title is arranged in a list with pictures and a description of each item. There are six different panes in the inventory, each sorting every type of item together; armors with armors, potions with potions, etc. This vertical-style listing is easy to use and read, and allows players a hassle-free way to sell, drop, and equip items. The items themselves are perhaps one of the most important parts of these kinds of games, as players know that gear makes a character–not vice-versa, so it is very important to try to use and find the best gear possible. All armors and weapons are balanced with requirements and are automatically compared to equipped items.
- User Interface: Whether its the Journal menu that offers everything from a players Inventory to the Quest pages or the in-game HUD setup, the user interface for Torchlight is masterfully designed and very easy to understand. The in-game setup is especially dynamic–there is a mini-map in the lower right-hand corner, a long exp bar in the middle, tanks of Hp and Mana in the upper left/right corners, a player’s cast-able spells and their assigned button as well as the player’s pet’s stats.
While there isn’t co-operative play or online play in this iteration of Torchlight (just like the PC/Mac versions), the game plays in such a way that offers a more personalized experience that isn’t hindered by playing alone, and players get companions and can summon allies along the way. Basically there really doesn’t need to be multiplayer in this title for it to still be incredibly fun.
Veterans of Blizzard PC games series such as World of Warcraft and Diablo will be impressed with the expansive amount of weapons and armor in Torchlight. Both armors and weapons are seperated into classifications: Normal (grey and white), Enchanted (Green), Rare (Bluish-Lavender), Unique (Yellow), and Set Uniques (Pinkish-Purple).
Loot in Torchcraft functions very much like Diablo in that it falls out of enemies corpses when they are defeated, and all drops are randomized. Players can wear certain items that enhance loot-find; magic-find and gold-find is an ability that can be on certain items. There are many different grades and types of armors, weapons, useable potions/scrolls, and even gems that can be socketed into items.
Players can equip many types of armor that can all be enchanted magically–chestpiece, pauldrons (shoulders), gloves, boots, helmet and a shield. There are two-handed weapons in this game, and players can also dual-wield two one-handed weapons as well, but shields can’t be equipped along with a two-handed weapon. All items have requirements such as strength and level requirements for heavier armors–this helps balance gameplay and keeps players from being to overpowered for their level.
Gold is very important in this game and is the currency of use, yet since items drop quite frequently, it is plausible to expect that gold isn’t extremely precious. Players will receive higher amounts of gold for magical and unique items–the value is proportional to the item’s magical properties and grade/class.
There are many different types of scrolls and potions in Torchlight, all of which are very useful–Identify Scrolls, Town Portal Scrolls, Dungeon Map Scrolls and even Skill Scrolls. These items can be found in merchants’ inventories or can be found as loot near slain monsters. Potions are very useful in this game, as well–whether players use health or mana potions (which are essential to survival in the dungeons) or special potions like the Potion of Respec.
IV. Unique Features
The view in this game reminds players of the Blizzard’s classic RTS game series Warcraft, especially when there are hordes of enemies on the screen. Long-time Blizzard fans will be excited to find that Torchlight is a combination of some of the company’s best titles. This game is a must-have for action roleplaying game enthusiasts, especially those that enjoy a more personalized and single-player experience.
Besides the enhanced assortment of weapons and items found in Torchlight, gamers can enjoy an expansive storyline with many stages and levels–players don’t just explore the Ember Mines below the city. Special “map” scrolls can be purchased from the Gem Trader in town, and these maps open portals to random dungeons that are filled with monsters to slay for EXP and items. This offers a chance for players to ready themselves for harder battles, and offers a challenge since there’s no way to escape once in these dungeons except if you reach the end portal–town portals can’t be cast in these zones.
Spell Scrolls give players the ability to customize a character the way they want, especially since these scrolls can be used by any character. With this unique feature gamers aren’t limited to the spells and skills that are offered in class-specific skill trees and can add abilities that aren’t found on their respective spell castes. These scrolls are expensive, so players must choose wisely–also these scrolls can be found as loot in combat.
Socketed items are another unique feature in Torchlight, especially since every item can be socketed–players aren’t limited to only weapons and armor being socketable like in Blizzard’s Diablo games. Boots, trinkets (amulets and rings), and even gloves can have sockets, giving players the chance to fully customize their gear and to maximize the potential of gems and jewels found throughout their adventures.
Pets and companions are very useful unique features that are found in this action role-playing XBLA title. At the very beginning players get to choose their own customizable pet and pick a name for it as well, also there are many items that you can “feed’ to your Pet to transform it into many different forms that each of their own characteristics and attributes. Pets can aid players in combat and they even have their own inventories to store items–this is incredibly useful especially when players have no space. Pets can also be instructed to return to town to automatically sell certain items, however once they are gone players will lose their companionship in battle–don’t fret, all pets return from town after a brief period.
This game also features Online Leaderboards, which is very rare for a game of it’s type–especially for an action RPG in the XBLA library. This gives players the chance to brag to their friends about their achievements, and multiple statistics are included in leaderboard rankings such as kills, deaths, gold, score and difficulty. Players can also take a look at each other player’s Gamertag and profile through this screen, giving them the chance to communicate with others on the leaderboards.
It’s Extremely Fun! Torchlight lives up to it’s PC predecessor in every form, and in my humble opinion the console version is better considering the interface of an Xbox 360 controller is utilized rather than a mouse/keyboard combination. With the dozens of hours of gameplay this action RPG offers, players will enjoy delving the deeps for items and Ember for days on end. Many elements combine together to bring an unforgettable and very original title to the Xbox Live Arcade library that is a must-have for fans of Blizzard games everywhere.
Dynamic Skill Trees. Blizzard is undoubtedly the master of certain RPG elements; skill trees being one of them. The abilities and spells that are found in Torchlight for each character class are not only expansive, they are very dynamic in the sense that each skill functions differently and uniquely. These spells can range from the Alchemist’s destructive and summoning spells to the Destroyer’s melee fighting attacks, or even the passive abilities that are automatically activated.
Incredible Gear. Anyone who’s ever played a MMORPG or even a single-player action RPG knows that gear is an essential part to making a successful character. In Torchlight there are literally thousands of different types of items, each with their own prefixes and suffixes (similar to Diablo‘s item mechanics) and magical properties–as well as their own classfications. From simple normal items to incredibly powerful set uniques, Torchlight’s myriad of weapons and armors provide gamers with the tools they need to not only customize their character’s appearnce, but to tackle epic bosses and take down the evil Ember-infused Master Alric.
Amazing Visuals & Soundtrack. The graphics that are presented in the console iteration of Torchlight are nothing short of incredible–utilizing the enhanced visuals seen in Xbox 360’s, this game delivers the same kinds of quality we’d expect to see in a Blizzard title. Whether players are simply exploring the Ember mines or launching powerful volleys of spells, the graphics in this title are everything fans have wanted in Torchlight’s console version.
The masterful soundtrack that is heard in this action RPG is quite appealing; it incorporates ambient sounds with epic tracks, giving players the sense that they are actually in a mythical medieval adventure. These classical tones are very fitting for a game of it’s type; a fantasy medieval journey to the heart of evil itself.
Great Achievements. Some Xbox Live Arcade titles are infamous for their incredibly hard and seemingly impossible achievements. Torchlight fans won’t have much problem attaining the gamerscore for the cheevos since they are basically progressive and not complicated. This gives high appeal to gamers who want to max out the achievements every retail title they purchase, and this only adds to the general positive aspects for this fun-filled RPG adventure.
No Multiplayer. Torchlight fans and enthusiasts all notice one thing that stands out about the title: there’s no local or online multiplayer. The game seems to be perfectly set-up like Blizzard’s highly successful MMORPG titles (such as World of Warcraft, StarCraft, Warcraft, and even the Diablo games) however it is missing this feature despite the high demand for multiplayer. This has to be the sole negative aspect of this very enjoyable title, considering the game itself would be so much more dynamic and fun if players could play with other gamers across the world in online matches.
Overall, Torchlight is an epic XBLA title that provides hours of unique entertainment, and gamers who are familiar previous Blizzard titles will be extremely happy with this game. It’s highly reccommended for all RPG fans everywhere, and since it breaks the traditional norms of many genres (such as roguelikes & dungeon crawlers, action RPG’s, etc.) the title itself is very original and unique.
I confidently rate this game 5/5 because as a veteran gamer I can say that this title is superb in nearly every way and is a perfect fit for players who enjoy a personal single-player experience.