Diablo 3 Hold-Outs: Give up and get Torchlight

Torchlight is an action-oriented dungeon crawler from Runic Games, formed by some of the former Diablo developers.  The game is built from the mold of and heavily borrows from it’s spiritual predecessors in the Diablo series.  While it has the glaring flaw of being single-player, this little gem offers more than enough to make it a worthwhile purchase.  I, like many others, was initially hesitant to give Torchlight a whirl for that express reason.  I had thought I would just wait for the “real thing” with Diablo 3.  However after I tried Torchlight, it became clear that the “real thing” is already here, even without the boon of multi-player.

Torchlight

Most of the beloved elements of the Diablo series is intact; a massive cache of loot to be procured, enchantments, random dungeons and a skill tree system more than resembling that of Diablo and World of Warcraft.  The action itself will be very familiar to any Diablo fan, as the game plays exactly as expected from first glance.  Runic has kindly implemented several new bells and whistles to give an update to the tried and true format.

One of the most noticeable and initial additions is the pet.  Players get to choose from a Dog or Cat (not the tiny fluffy kind) to join in on the fun.  Not only will your beast eviscerate your enemies, they also provide additional inventory space and can return to town to sell goods without the player ever leaving the battlefield.  This feature alone take some the tedium away from the genre as there are less interruptions in game play just to clear inventory.  Various fishing spots throughout the game can provide magic and possibly mercury laced seafood that provides buffs for your creature, transforming them into one of the various monsters on the roster.

In town there are multiple storage chests available, allowing for good organization of equipment and less need to cull good equipment just to make room.  The storage chests themselves are universal for all characters a player has, facilitating sharing of equipment and items without having to go through any rigmarole.  Torchlight also incorporates a hotbar system akin to that of World of Warcraft and other MMOs, allowing the player to assign hotkeys to use specific items or spells with the push of one button.  Potions also stack in groups of 20, so the days of trying to properly organize your potions on a belt are well behind us.

Delightfully Runic has included a “Hardcore” difficulty for Torchlight, which Diablo players may fondly or frustratingly remember.  As with Diablo, death is permanent in this mode and it will likely happen with a disturbing, heart-wrenching frequency.  Masochism isn’t really my bag, but plenty of people dugg it in the Diablo series and will find it equally appealing/atrocious here.  The graphics are smooth, crisp and mesh well with the gameplay, despite not having heavy hardware requirements.  Torchlight even has a “Netbook Mode” in the settings for those playing on a small format or antiquated machine.

Don’t let the fact that there is no multiplayer deter you from Torchlight.  It’s available for $20 which is a steal for the amount of content and playtime that is easily derived from the game.  I’d recommend purchasing on Steam, especially when it’s on sale, as your settings and progress are saved into the Steam cloud and is shared to any computer you install the game on.  This goes along quite nicely with the ability to immediately pick up wherever you were last at, allowing you to easily jump in and out of the action.

I obtained my copy for $10 during a weekend sale on Steam, but it is easily worth the “full” price.  I’m not saying Diablo 3 won’t rock your face off, or that I won’t buy it (Oh, I will).  However with the release date of Diablo 3 still lingering on the distant horizon, Torchlight will satiate your dungeon crawling jones quite nicely.

Read More