Back in the day, ranging somewhere between my senior year of high school and my sophomore year of college, I played a lot of Diablo and Diablo II. However, I never beat either game, and constantly restarted new characters. My absolute favorite aspect of these now legendary dungeon-crawlers was organizing my inventory. See, Diablo and Diablo II strived for a more realistic inventory system, meaning if you couldn’t fit it in your bag with your dozen of other goodies, well…you’re not taking it with you. Simple as that. Here, let me show you:
Oh man. That image is beyond delicious. It’s like a puzzle minigame!
Anyways, I mention this because Torchlight, despite being heavily influenced by its Diablo big brothers, does not support this kind of inventory. At least not in the XBLA version. PC players get to enjoy this deliciousness:
Instead, us Xbox 360 doods get lists. Lists after lists after lists. Many of which are unreadable. And that makes it difficult to even determine if your character is fully armed. Oh boy.
What’s the story? Well, it all revolves around a mysterious ore called Ember, which is the essence of magic, as well as the keystone in alchemy. Deep below the small excuse for a town called Torchlight, miners dig, searching for the coveted ore. However, these miners quickly discover that there’s more below Torchlight than shiny, special rocks: a dangerous labyrinth of caverns and ruined civilizations, brimming with monstrous creatures. Evil begins to surface, and a champion is needed. Players can pick between three classes–Destroyer, Alchemist, or Vanquisher–and then begin slaughtering evil enemies, collecting loot, defeating bosses, and progressing further below the town. It’s a pretty typical storyline, with 100% shallow characters; in fact, the most creative character exists only to hand out sidequests, and yes, I’m talking about Trill-Bot 4000, that one-man band/aspiring bard/robot. Why can’t I have him as a pet?!
Like its Diablo brothers, Torchlight‘s greatest appeal is its loot. Killing special enemies drops a ton of gear, most of which will need identifying scrolls to truly get, and it’s an addicting thing. Grabbing loot, selling loot, grabbing loot, harboring unwearable loot for later–it’s truly what drove me forward, the promise of an even better staff for my Alchemist. What’s also nice is that, much like Dragon Quest IX, you can see everything your character is wearing or wielding, which gives reason for trying out a lot of odd gear. The graphics are colorful and cartoony, taking a page from World of Warcraft, and they seem right at place in Torchlight‘s less than serious world.
And now let’s discuss what I passionately disliked about Torchlight. We’ll start small. Whenever your pet loses all its health, it will flee from battle until it heals itself. You know this is happening because the voiceover dude goes, “Your pet is fleeing.” He says it even flatter than I’ve typed it. The problem is, sometimes your party is surrounded by enemies, meaning your pet is fleeing from one group to another, and the voiceover guy will just not shut up. “Your pet is fleeing,” he says, and then nine seconds later he says it again. Oh, is it? WELL, FLEE ALREADY THEN! GO AWAY! Sheesh.
I also discovered a sharp increase in difficulty from the Black Palace (levels 31-34) to when you have to fight the final boss in the Lair of Ordak (level 35). Playing on Normal difficulty, I have never died until then, and rarely had to use health potions as my Alchemist knew a Heal All spell which did the job just fine. However, towards the end, I found myself guzzling bottles of red faster than probably possible.
Lastly, my biggest gripe about Torchlight is its love for tiny text. Most of the dialogue between characters is readable, but when a weapon or special piece of gear comes jam-packed with abilities, the text drops to really tiny, making it hard to figure out what is what. Does that armor require my defense skill to be 27 or 29? It gets even worse if you try to compare it with another piece of armor in your inventory. I ended up selling most of my gear because I couldn’t read what it did. At the top left corner of all items is either a green dot, a red dot, or both. Green means it is greatly better than what you’re currently using; red is worse; and green plus red means it’s a mix of both. I used this as my guideline on what to wear, what to sell. A shame really, as I know I missed out on a lot of strong purple-colored loot.
Hate tiny text, too? Good news for you then! I’m working on an article about it for The First Hour. Stay tuned, fellow blind people.
So, is Torchlight worth getting on consoles? I’d say no. It’s a good game, but better suited for a mouse and keyboard, as well as a screen mere centimeters from your face.