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Torchlight PC Review

16/10/2011 Thinking Scared Gamer Review
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Torchlight PC





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Torchlight PC may be reminiscent of older RPGs like Diablo, but it also makes many improvements to the genre.

Torchlight is a spiritual successor to the Diablo games. Indeed so close are the two games ties that many of the team responsible for Diablo left Blizzard to form Runic Games, Torchlight's developer.

Similarities run deep,right down to the intro music, which while not identical, conjures a very similar feel. The more similarities I see the more I am forced to consider why I have found my time with Torchlight so much more enjoyable than my brief stint with Diablo 2.

Both titles appeal to a number of my gaming idiosyncrasies. Each offers a stylized fantasy setting that drip with atmosphere, as well as the constant draw of improved weapons and equipment, which provides much of the motivation to keep returning to the game. Foes regularly drop unidentified items that my obsessive-compulsive side is all too content to compare meticulously with everything else I have acquired to assess which is superior.

Maybe the reason I now find Torchlight so entertaining is because I have matured as a gamer. Today I am more eager to experience a variety of different games and play mechanics, rather than feeling the need to viscerally disembowel every opponent I come across. But I don't think Torchlight appeal stems solely from my changing tastes; I believe that it is Torchlight's refinements to the point and click, loot hording model that has me so enamored.

Torchlight adds a number of small innovations that separately seem inconsequential but combine to transform the grind associated with this dungeon crawling style of RPG from a chore to pleasure.

Torchlight adds a number of small innovations that combine to transform the RPG grind from a chore to pleasure.

Cosmetic changes came first and foremost in grabbing my attention. With ten years separating the releases obviously improvements are to be expected, but it isn't Torchlight's visual fidelity that is so impressive, it is its style. Moving through the caverns of Torchlight is like walking through a cartoon.

The changing appearances of areas as I explored the caves keep the game feeling fresh while chunky featured characters, seemed joyous at their inclusion. Their bulky appearances managed to stop the game from feeling oppressive, but never prevented a growing darkness in mood as I descended through the level.

In some games this darkening mood would dampen my spirits, forcing me to limit my playtime, but Torchlight's brighter aesthetic allowed me to muster significantly more endurance to continue my games.

In conjunction with the visuals giving the experience more longevity, slight tweaks to gameplay also took prominent position among the alterations made to Diablo's formula. Streamlined character classes made starting the game less intimidating, limiting me to just three archetypal classes, ranged, melee and magic. While pairing down the classes may have limited some of the depth, with no time to replay the game, the three classes on offer more than kept me entertained as I plundered the game's depths.

Torchlight's dogs and cats bring with them a host of abilities.

But most welcome of all of Torchlight's additions was the inclusion of pets. Torchlight's dogs and cats bring with them a host of abilities. Firstly they are cute companions whose presence serves to alleviate the loneliness of the majority of the games solitary quests. Their loyalty also meant that they attacked anyone who wished me harm; a talent made all the more effective by the ability to bind spells and other powers to them. Soon after starting thegame I found myself with a furry friend who could summon skeletons and turn into a spider to help them savage any attacker that dared come near me.

Pets skills in combat however paled in significance when compared to the their primary skill. Take anyone who enjoys loot hording games and ask them the most frustrating thing about the genre and they will tell you it is the constant backtracking to stores to offload items. I still remember the stress of playing Oblivion, too far from any area where I could sell or store excess items valuable items. Forced to jettison items I may never see again I would become incapacitated by indecision. Panicking that I may make the wrong choice and loose forever a valuable item.

Pets relieve some of this stress by acting as a personal seller. My dog would happily carry as many items as I and, when required, would return to town alone to hocking any goods I didn?t want. It may not be ideal, in this equation after all I may unwittingly still offload something that may prove useful later (I am still unable to tell the superior option between a level 189 cutlass with fire and healing, over a level 191 saber with frost) but knowing I will at least acquire something from the loss went some way to easing the stress I find in these dilemmas.

Every change made to Torchlight has made the game more accessible. By reducing the complexity of initial decisions, and by removing unnecessary back tracking the entire experience becomes more pleasant, while retaining the core of what made Diablo so popular to this day. While it is not especially long, its bargain price makes it hard to not recommend.

Written by Alex Beech

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Alex Beech writes the Scared Gamer column.

"Games connect us to exhilaration in various ways. I love mine to scare me. Although the shock, horror and gore are all pretty unnerving, nothing comes close to the sweaty palms of playing games that take you to ridiculously high places - InFamous, Mirror's Edge and Uncharted to name a few."

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