When Torchlight hit Steam back in late 2009, it came as a pleasant surprise to loot-hoarding games around the world. Admittedly, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect; fans were foaming at the mouth in anticipation of Diablo III. Torchlight arrived at just the right time to satisfy everyone’s hack-’n'-slash desires and steal the spotlight right out from under Diablo.
It essentially goes without saying, then, that the pressure on Runic Games was high to do justice to the port over to consoles. They had to succeed where other developers have failed and provide that same solid experience, but with the restrictions that come with using a controller over the ol’ mouse and keyboard. So the question, then, is did they manage to succeed? Well, in a word: yes.
If you’re unfamiliar with Torchlight, here it is in a nutshell: you pick between one of three characters — Destroyer (melee), Alchemist (magic) and Vanquisher (ranged) — and you’re immediately sent into the mines below the small town of Torchlight to vanquish an evil force that has corrupted the mines from within its core. There’s a hint of a story to be found, but that isn’t really what Torchlight is all about — all you’ll likely care about is relentlessly tearing through waves of baddies in order to collect more and more shiny pieces of loot. And when you’ve done that, guess what you’ll do afterwards? You’ll score yourself even more loot. If that sounds right up your alley, then Torchlight was made with you in mind
If all of that sounded a bit dull to you, rest assured that Torchlight does a good job at managing to change things up enough to not bore you. After every four floors you’ll venture into an entirely new area of the mine, each area feeling vastly different from the other in terms of aesthetics and enemy types. And when you’ve made your way down to the final floor and vanquished the boss, there’s a whole ‘nother dungeon to explore with randomized maps and randomized locations. For a game that is so simple in premise and practice, Torchlight has a surprising amount to offer to hack-’n'-slash fans.
The question on the mind of those that played the PC version, then, is how well it plays on a console. Much to my surprise, not only does it handle just as well as its PC counterpart, it actually manages to feel better in ways. Using the left stick to direct your attacks onto unsuspecting enemies feels exactly as it should: precise and intuitive. In fact, the only thing to complain about as far as gameplay is concerned is that you only have eight total buttons in which to map your skills to. You can map skills to Right Trigger, Left Trigger, B and Y with Right Bumper and Left Bumper being reserved for your potions, and you can press down on the D-Pad to switch between your active skill sets. I found I could make do with the limited slots I had, but it still feels restrictive.
The only major difference you’ll notice — aside from the fact you have a controller in your hand this time around — is the complete overhaul of the inventory, status, quest, stat and skill screens. While the new UI is mostly great, it’s also a little more confusing than it ought to be and, in fact, ends up with its own learning curve before you get used to navigating it properly. It’s not that big of an issue in general, but there are times early on in the game where you might accidentally sell off an equipped item or identify and equip an item you were trying to sell, and so on.
The port over to console mostly went off without a hitch, but there are a few surprising annoyances. For one, despite the fact that the PC version can play on practically any computer made over the last decade, the game comes to a crawl whenever a certain amount of spell effects and enemies are on screen at once. It’s not game-breaking by any means, but it’s nonetheless puzzling how a game with such low system requirements could possibly bring the Xbox 360 to its knees.
Another, more significant issue reared its ugly head at me towards the end of my playthrough. For reasons I don’t quite understand, my entire shared storage was completely wiped out due to a strange bug. I was assured by the developers that they were working on figuring it out — and, for all I know, it could have been something on my end that mucked it up — but it’s worth noting in case this glitch blindsides anyone else. Regardless, the developers are aware of it.
It’s a testament to just how solid and, honestly, addictive, this game is that even a nasty glitch couldn’t keep me away from it. Decking out your character with new items is as addictive as it is fun, and the wide variety of skills available to each character, despite the limited number of skill binds, makes the action entertaining throughout. Hack-’n'-slash fans will find hours upon hours of content waiting for them in the dark mines of Torchlight and, even if you’ve already played it before, it’s still just as fun as it was the first go-around. All lovers of loot should definitely add this to their digital library.
Score: 8/10 – Great
- Torchlight still coming to XBLA/PSN, may be out by end of year
- Beyond Good and Evil HD, Torchlight and more coming to XBLA
- Torchlight II Announced, Coming Spring 2011
- Torchlight II pushed back into July
- Review: A World of Keflings (XBLA)