I don’t really know how it happened, or how I ended up in this situation.
My name is Princess Stomper, and I am addicted to Torchlight.
Torchlight is an action RPG by Runic Games. It’s known as a Diablo clone, which is probably a fair description, but I never played Diablo so can’t really say. It’s a fairly standard fantasy game in isometric perspective, with real-time action. The town of Torchlight is cute and reminds me a little of Fable II‘s settlements, and scattered throughout the town are portals to the nearby dungeons – huge caverns filled with monsters that you battle for loot. Since Borderlands is also compared to Diablo and there are definitely elements of similarity in the gameplay, I could concur on that comparison. It’s not too surprising – the design team include the veterans behind Diablo and Mythos. It’s just mindless, popcornish fun – kill monster, collect loot, upgrade gear and sell the rest.
I chose the Vanquisher character because she was female and I prefer playing female characters. She specialises in ranged weapons (guns, in my case) and apparently can set traps, though I’ve never tried. I mostly keep upgrading the “ricochet” skill, to perform elaborate trick shots that work particularly well against crowds. My character’s pet dog even has a handy button to press to send him off to town carrying all my spare loot – he’ll sell it for me and bring me the gold. I can even feed him magical fish to turn him into another animal for a while. Luckily the pet is only missing for two minutes at a time – so he can run back and help me navigate through the maze-like dungeons. Each level is hand-designed with traps, levers and puzzles to avoid looking like “crossword puzzles that have been extruded upwards” – it’s the part of the game where you do have to think a little.
The cartoonish graphics are really quite beautiful. In a sense, it reminds me a little of Guild Wars, and there’s a slight similarity in the feel of the game to GW‘s early Ascalon levels. Having pretty, interesting-looking dungeons is a good part of what makes the game feel so relaxing – it’s fun to be there.
There’s a plot of sorts, which is like a very pared down Dragon Age: there’s a “blight” of sorts under Torchlight – in this case, the magical Ember stones that are used to enchant weapons and armour have a corrupting influence. Your quest is to track down the missing alchemist Alaric in the “layer cake” of ruins under the town. Some people have criticised the plot as being “shallow”, but in a game like this, it really doesn’t matter – that’s like criticising the plot of Puzzle Quest.
Torchlight is a game in the purest sense. Yes, it’s highly engrossing, and I’ve lost many hours to it over the past few days, but it’s not the type of game where you psychologically wear your character like a dress-up costume. Where so many games – and I love them for it – are more like interactive movies or virtual-world simulations, Torchlight is a game like Peggle is a game: a diverting challenge. Weirdly, I’d owned it for many months and dipped into it for a few minutes here and there, always enjoying but never quite getting hooked. Then there was a tipping point and I couldn’t stop playing. I’m probably not too far from the end of it now, but I know that as soon as I face the final battle, I’ll be ready to start all over again.