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Torchlight PC draws inspiration from Diablo and proves that time and advancement haven't withered the formula for a nostalgic gamer like me.
The staggering power of modern technology leaves me bewildered. I feel old saying it, but being able to see exactly where I am in the world on a phone no bigger than a miniature notepad sill blows my mind.
Ten years ago I watched while classmates delicately placed their mobile phones next to each other to play Snake II over a precarious infra-red connection. Ten years prior my brain rattled around my skull at the sight of a Game Boy. But now these innovations seem pedestrian. Take some time out from gaming like me, and when you return the medium has broken acres of new ground.
I sit in this cafe corner amazed that I am playing a game as rich, dense, and gorgeous as Torchlight on my laptop. The resolution is sharp, the world detailed, the animation smooth, and the loading times are minimal, all on a laptop. You may well shrug your shoulders, but the child inside me has exploded several times over.
I can even hook up to the cafe's Wi-Fi and play with the whole world, except I'm meant to using the Wi-Fi for work since my new flat remains Internet-less. I had told myself that Torchlight was the safer form of temporary procrastination, but three Mocha Frappacinos, a blank Word document and an army of lifeless goblins would say otherwise.
It's just an honest embrace of an effective template laid down all those years ago by a very good game.
Torchlight is an action role-playing game that unashamedly channels the essence of the most famous grandfather of the genre, Diablo. I'm not entirely sure if it's demeaning or flattering to describe it as a shiny new Diablo clad in alluring steam-punk, but that's pretty much what it is. It sounds plagiaristic, but Torchlight is not at all. It's just an honest embrace of an effective template laid down all those years ago by a very good game.
Torchlight has a simple base that epitomizes its genre. There are three selectable characters, each with different abilities and looks. The quests took me through mysterious dungeons lurking below a mining cave. As I venture further and further into the darkness below, descending floor after floor in search of treasure, answers, and glory.
There's very little story beyond that. Fighting is as simple as a mouse left-click on an enemy to attack, and a right-click for a special attack. I left-click where I want my gunslinger girl to go and the same to make her pick up the reams of treasure fallen left behind by fallen foes. Sometimes a particularly large beastie comes along, but even then strategy is only expanded to a few nifty spells and potions tied to hot-keys. Torchlight goes against the modern blueprint of button combinations and intricate controls.
The real fun, though, comes from micro-managing all the armour, weaponry, and spells that I pick up, all of which have extremely elaborate attributes related to a variety of modifiers. A single helmet might have more than fifteen separate attributes, ranging from things like a slight increase in damage dealt to a whole chunk of resistance to electrical attacks. Some grant special perks like making enemies more likely to flee, but the more powerful the weapon or piece of armour, the rarer it is to discover. And this is only the tip of the Torchlight's iceberg. There are insertable gems to boost gear further, an enchanter who can also strengthen my loot's power, and a whole host of other ways to finely tune my set-up.
It's this kind of loot love-in that really defines the action role play genre, and it's exactly this element that set apart Diablo back its day. It's just such a more-ish quality. Torchlight may not stray too far from the formula, but this all still works very well.
Torchlight goes against the modern blueprint of button combinations and intricate controls
I remember my 18-year-old self slouching precariously on the edge of a sofa in my best friend's house, snacking and drinking while extolling the virtues of the Diablo games. Memories are understandably hazy, but I know he loved those games on an almost unnatural level. They were as good as it got in his esteemed opinion.
Now he lives nearly 200 miles away and is recently engaged. Those days seem so far away. But still we often talk about Diablo and how we are counting the days until the release of Diablo III.
Like technology, like gaming, life is an overwhelmingly swift symphony. But there will always be certain notes that perpetuate. Torchlight, or more accurately its essence, is one such note. Ten years ago Diablo amazed us on our desktops. Now Torchlight intoxicates on more mobile hardware. Things may have advanced, but in many ways they're just the same as before.
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