Tag Archives: Torchlight

Removed two more games from my Xbox 360

BGAE HD beat again copy

The title of this post says it all: Beyond Good and Evil HD and Torchlight got removed from my Xbox 360’s hard-drive space to help make room for future games and content I’ve already paid for, such as the remainder of Telltale’s second season of The Walking Dead, if they ever get around to releasing another episode. I think I ended up freeing around 2 GB of space, but I plan to tackle some more arcade titles I have sitting untouched for awhile to see if I can polish them off enough for me to consider to removable. Previously, I polished off Shadow Complex and then immediately uninstalled it. We can all blame this on my neurotic nature to use every oodle of storage space I have to its full potential.

For Torchlight, though I had long beaten the game back in 2011, I was sitting pretty at 11 out of 12 Achievements. The last one to unlock was called “Superstar” and requires you to “achieve maximum fame.” You mostly earn fame by defeating unique enemies in dungeons, and you can always tell these apart from regular grunts because they have names like Moggath the Dragonkicker and Sh’gorl the Darkstink. In short, you probably need to kill around 200+ unique monsters to hit this target, and my saved game showed that I had only killed, at that point, around 125. And so I grinded, which was not the most exciting task, but it was mindless enough, and I had plenty of potions and healing spells to keep me going. Only took a few hours of going at it and ignoring picking up new weapons, enchanting gear, and worrying about what skills to enhance and so on.

This also served to remind me that Torchlight II is much better than Torchlight, especially because I built a range character there with the ability to create random chaos whenever making a critical hit. It was much more taxing to grind as a melee character for the “Superstar” Achievement because it meant getting in close and taking more HP hits. Though I do like the idea of these “clicky” action RPGs on consoles; maybe I should look into Diablo III one of these days.

Next, I moved on to Beyond Good & Evil HD. Now, I played and completed the original Beyond Good & Evil on the PlayStation 2 a long time ago; in fact, it’s one of the first games I wrote about back when I got into writing about entertainment media on the side, over at my stupidly named Blogger site Game Beliefs. In 2011, a Cyber Monday sale for XBLA had the HD version of the game priced at $3.00, and I happily paid for it a second time, fondly remembering how many photos of strange wildlife I snapped during Jade’s journey to stop the DomZ from stealing away the inhabitants of Hillys. I played a little bit of the game then, and then nearly finished the whole thing a second time in June 2012 when I was permanently stuck on the couch for an entire weekend with really bad back pain. I got all the way to the end section and…well, just stopped. Not really sure why, but I guess my back got better and I was so excited to leave the couch that I just dropped everything off my plate and went elsewhere.

Anyways, the last section of Beyond Good & Evil HD basically involves some “reflect this light properly to open the door” puzzles, a spat or two of direct combat, some flying-but-on-rails ship battle, and a surprisingly difficult final boss. I don’t remember the final fight being so difficult last time, but I suspect the fact that I went into the fight with only a small number of health-healing items played a major part in its difficulty. Without spoiling what happens, the controls for Jade during combat get reversed, and you basically have a split second to hit the boss and/or dodge out of the way, and the reversed controls take some time to get used to. Took me several attempts, but I did it; I saved Hillys all over again. I missed unlocking four Achievements, but they didn’t seem like any fun–more grinding, and not in a do-able, mindless way–so I just watched the credits, appreciated the soundtrack once more, and removed the game entirely. Oh well. Bring on Beyond Good & Evil 2; that was a joke, by the way. That game is never becoming a real thing.

So that’s three games now played and polished off enough for me to feel okay with uninstalling and never looking back. I’ve got more to go after, but for now I at least have enough room for the next episode of The Walking Dead, which I think drops sometime in March. Whew.

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Every click burns a little brighter in Torchlight II

torchlight 2 ghostboat011

Though I’ve not really mentioned it much here on Grinding Down, I’ve actually been playing a lot of Torchlight II for the last month and a half. Well, more than I expected. It’s a game that I bought during the most recent Steam Winter sale for a sexcellent deal and boot up for a bit every now and then, like while I’m waiting for my hot cocoa water to boil or if I got a half hour to kill before Tara and I head off somewhere. Bits and pieces, clicks and flicks. So far, I’ve not really thought of anything profound or illuminating enough to create a blog post around, but having just beat Pokemon White 2, I see some similarities between the two, and that’ll do just fine as a place to launch.

Now, to start, I liked Torchlight. Alas, I played it first on the Xbox 360, and so I had to experience tiny text syndrome on my TV, which lead to me missing out on reading all the various loot stats and spells descriptions and just going with what seemed best, defeating the purpose of caring about loot and equipping my character to the nines. It was not the most involved way to play, I’m afraid, and I later purchased the very same Torchlight for just under $4.00 for the PC during last year’s Steam summer sale, which helped rectify that problem. Though I didn’t really play it again for too long as there were a number of other distractions available. And then I picked up its sequel, which quickly eradicated it from my mind as something I needed to play.

In Torchlight II, you do a lot of the same things from the previous game, but it all somehow feels new. Or at least polished to appear new. Switching things up, I am playing as an Embermage, which is a highly trained spell-casting class with elemental attacks. His name is Mosley, and he uses gem-enchanted wands and relies on a lot of electrical-based spells, as well as some random happenings. My favorite being when a giant meteor falls from the sky onto everyone. His pet is a Badger, but sadly, I don’t remember what name I gave it. This class is a great mix of things, and trying to decide on skills is a fun challenge, as the Embermage can totally go in a number of ways. It’s definitely spicier than previous classes like…the Alchemist (basically, a wizard) or the Vanquisher (in short, a ranger).

Allow me to now compare Torchligh II with Pokemon White 2, as well as probably enrage some diehard fans from either boat. In both games, there is always something to do. For the former, it’s clicking on things until they are dead and picking up loot; for the latter, it’s battling Pokemon to gain EXP or capture them for your team. It’s all about collecting, moving forward. That said, there’s a story around both these main game mechanics that exists high above, nothing more than a blur and disembodied voice telling you where you should go to next. You can, if you want, get invested in this, but there is very little point. I don’t remember any specifics from the the original Torchlight‘s story, and I couldn’t tell you what is going on in this one. Same goes for Pokemon White 2. The story is such a non-issue that it is nothing more than perfunctory, which is a disappointment, especially in a fantasy realm as colorful and quirky as Torchlight II.

And with that odd comparison, let me say that I’m really enjoying my time with Torchlight II. Constantly finding new and interesting gear is a joy, as well as customizing it with gems and enchantments to make it even more unique. You are constantly improving with every new piece of armor and skill perk. Everything is streamlined, and playing solo is completely viable, even against some of the huge raid-like bosses. My Mosley is creeping up near LV 20, and I have no idea where we’re going story-wise; I just head to the starred locations, click on things until a new starred location pops up, and then I head there. That probably sounds a little underwhelming, but all along the way I’m clicking and having an excellent time. Looking forward to more with Mosley, though I suspect he’ll be my only character and playthrough for Torchlight II. Eventually, the light will gently fade.

The sounds, saunter, and signing off of the Steam summer sale

This has been my first Steam summer sale. And by that I mean the first summer to come around where I have a computer capable of running some videogames. Not all of them, mind you, as my ASUS laptop can only do so much, but most, and most definitely all the indie or previously downloadable-only ones, which I prefer over the AAA titles. For those, like Batman: Arkham City and whatever the latest Assassin’s Creed game is called, I’d rather play them on my Xbox 360 than have to deal with slow downloads, configuring a controller for my laptop, and tweaking settings to get it playable.

And so, here are all the darlings I was able to snag during the crazy affair:

  • Terraria (purchased for $2.49)
  • Portal 2 (purchased for $4.99)
  • Tiny Bang Story (purchased for $2.50)
  • Trine 2 (purchased for $3.74)
  • Fallout: New Vegas – Ultimate Edition (purchased for $9.99)
  • Stacking (purchased for $3.74)
  • Torchlight (purchased for $3.74)
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (gifted to me by Greg Noe when on sale for $2.49)
  • Monkey Island Complete Pack (purchased for $8.74)
  • The Witcher: Enhanced Edition (purchased for $2.49)

That’s a total of $42.42 spent, which is not bad. Also, the answer to life, the universe, and everything…twice. I think that is a win no matter how you look at it.

Of my new purchases, I’ve played a few, but only sparingly. I loaded up Terraria to see if it worked and…yup, it did. Think that game requires some time and devotion to get into. I also did the same with Fallout: New Vegas, just to see how it runs on my laptop; fine, fine, and it is quite a change to go from watching a loading screen on the Xbox 360 for minutes to blinking and missing them on the PC. The biggest reason for buying that game all over again–not just because I love it so–is mods, so I’ll have to look into which ones are the bees’ knees. Stacking‘s a lot of fun, and you’ll be able to read more about that once I finish up my coverage for The First Hour. And then there’s Torchlight, which I’ve fallen back into hard. You see, when I first played it on the ol’ Xbox 360, I struggled with being able to read anything, and so it was mostly guesswork as to what items and weapons to equip, taking away a lot of fun inventory management. Yes, I said fun inventory management. But on the PC, everything is spectacular, and all that text is mine to devour and ponder and make decisions upon. I’m loving it all over again. Plus, it was a whole lot cheaper than buying Diablo III.

I hope to try out the other games I got before the world implodes, but that’s probably just wishful thinking. If you can help, please help.

So, how’d you make out with this year’s Steam summer sale? Share your purchases and good deals below!

Hacking and slashing greatly outweigh looting in Hack, Slash, Loot

Don’t let the Skyrim picture above confuse you too much because I’m actually going to talk about a little unassuming game called Hack, Slash, Loot, which I got as part of a recent bundle from Indie Royal. Alas, that game doesn’t do well in terms of screenshots and me throwing stupid text over it, and so I typed in “loot” into Google and found the above. Such is the way the cogs turn behind Grinding Down.

But yeah. Hacking, slashing, and looting. The game promises all three actions, but really only delivers on two, and those two are technically interchangeable, which results in one out of three. I’m not a school teacher, but I know a few, and I can imagine the type of letter grade a score like that would translate into. Despite that and a few other major faults, there are parts that I really do like about David Williamson’s independently developed roguelike that skimps on graphics and strives for missed dice rolls. There’s just something really charming beneath its brutally difficult skin.

Hack, Slash, Loot begins with choices. You have to pick a class, and they range from a Human Saracen to a Woodland Elf Archer. I went with a wizard most of the time. Once you’ve decided who you are, you need to figure out what to do, and there are six different quests to pick from: Journey to the Kimon, Mask of the Boy King, They Dwell Beneath, Dark Hearts and Evil Minds, Battle for Stormrise, and Tower of the Magus. These differ in terms of conflict and goals, but you will ultimately end up in a dungeon, killing monsters and searching for stronger weapons and gear. And each dungeon is randomly generated, making every quest, every adventure, new and unpredictable. In fact, one dungeon spawned my character in a room with two monsters right next to me, which helped to earn me this Steam Achievement:


Wooden Spoon: Die in less than 20 turns

Sweet, delicious failure!

But randomness is good, and it’s one of the reasons that I can go back to Diablo II, Torchlight, Dark Cloud 2, and the grottos in Dragon Quest IX today, in 2012, and still have a fresh experience. The graphics are retro and not distracting, with sprites taking center stage, which makes exploring the grid-based map easy. There isn’t much on the map, just a few candles and coffins, but it all looks good and recognizable. Again, I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff, but gameplay will always trump graphics for me, as it has to be fun to play, otherwise I’m just wasting my days.

That said, there is little loot to look for and the difficulty of Hack, Slash, Loot is more than enough to put someone off–it’s pure frustration. Healing your character does not happen in a conventional way; there are no spells or potions to regain health; instead, you have to loot tombs for scrolls which, may or may not, heal your little hero. This makes taking on more than one enemy at once a very dangerous situations, and I swear my character misses more times than he hits. Same can be said with enemies. It is a lot of missed dice rolls, which does not make for exciting combat; it just then feels luck-based since stats are not as visible as they need to be.

I never really got far in Hack, Slash, Loot, but I had a good time clicking around and trying out different weapons. Ranged weapons like staffs and bows were better for staying alive longer, but it was only time before I ran out of health. It was something to do while hanging out in bed, dog-sitting and watching Frasier. I just might go back again and hope that the next random dungeon is better suited…

Daggerdale, quest progression, and respawning barrels

I couldn’t really think of a zippy title for today’s post so instead I just listed what I was specifically going to talk about in relation to Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale: quest progression and respawning barrels. One’s more of a problem than the other, but both stick out enough that they get me all grumbly inside, and thus, I’m writing these words in the early hours of the morning.

To start, I’m still on the first main chapter of Daggerdale, where the quest “Rift in the Ruins” asks that my hero, the ever stoic halfling wizard Wiltirn Soldshort (see the 7:45 PM comic for a real zinger from Tara), goes out deeper into the cavern-like dungeon and destroy eight goblin mine shafts. Not a terribly challenging task, but the snag I kept running into was that I would play Daggerdale on my lunch-break, get two or three mine shafts destroyed, and have to stop due to being needed back at work. Naturally, I saved my progress and shut the game off. Upon reloading my save slot later, I had to start the entire quest over from the very beginning. Grrr. Yet, seemingly, everything else saved, such as my character’s level experience, new equipment, gold, skill upgrades, and so on. Just not whatever you’ve done in the current quest. This has happened twice now. So yesterday I made sure to schedule enough time to complete the quest fully so I wouldn’t have to mindlessly murder oodles of goblins yet again.

Moving on…barrels. Daggerdale has them in droves, and they are just asking for you to smash them into bits. Sometimes they contain a healing potion, and sometimes they contain nothing at all. Most of the time they drop a pinch of gold. That’s all well and good until you discover that those numerous barrels you destroyed in the entirety of the underground dwarven city-state of Mumblehall all respawn whenever there’s a cutscene or loading screen or any kind of smallish transition. And, having videogame OCD, I then have to go back around, slashing and stabbing, until all barrels everywhere have spilled their literal guts. It’s sickening and funny and I guess a means to filling up my pouch with gold, but it really doesn’t make that much sense.

It’s an okay hack-and-slash dungeon crawler. The loot is good, but not as interesting as it was in Torchlight, and the action is less chaotic. Maybe that’s a good thing. Going solo as a halfling wizard was probably not the best idea, as my dude gets pounded on constantly when he can’t keep swarms at bay, but whatever. I am a stubborn hobbit in real life, and so it is. I’ll keep going at it for a little longer, especially now that I know a quest needs to be fully completed before I save and shut down for the night. That part was a total mindmess as I kept second-guessing myself, believing that I wasn’t using the save button properly. Nope. That was just Daggerdale, missing its saving throw.

::cymbal hit::

Thank you, thank you!

Hack and slash through dungeons in Crimson Alliance, but don’t pick up loot

I gave up trying to beat Barrett in Deus Ex: Human Revolution last night well after my twenty-fifth save reload and decided to scour the Xbox Live games marketplace for anything else, to see what was new, to find an easier experience that would get me muttering or wringing controllers’ necks. And I found it relatively quickly with Crimson Alliance, a new downloadable game that gives off a Diablo/Torchlight vibe, but with a co-op slant.

And it is that. It’s totally a Diablo/Torchlight clone. Minus the great loot. There’s little loot to speak of. More on that in a moment.

Actually, the main reason I downloaded Crimson Alliance was not because it looked like a simple, mindless hack n’ slasher–one that would not get me even more worked up inside–but because it was FREE. That’s right. It’s a free game. Says so on the tin. Well, maybe. The lines between free game, trial, and demo are significantly blurred here, and I’m sure this is all just a big trick being played on consumers by Microsoft Studios and Certain Affinity to get folks in for an appetizer and then staying for dinner. To add even more words to the mix, if one purchased all Summer of Arcade games this year–Bastion, From Dust, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, Fruit Ninja Kinect, and Toy Soldiers: Cold War–then one definitely got a free–and full–version of Crimson Alliance.

So, I downloaded this free game as a storm began brewing outside. Rain and lightning and rumbling thunder. Wonderfully atmospheric gaming sounds, so long as the power doesn’t cut out. Upon starting up, I was given the choice of one of three characters: the mercenary Gnox, the wizard Direwolf, and the assassin Moonshade. I went with her, and the game informed me that if I wanted access to all things Moonshade, I’d have to buy her. See, you can either buy the game completely, purchase classes individually, or, uh, play the free version with little to no fanfare to speak of. And it seems like you can play about the entire first level, a little bit of a shop, and a smidgen into the second level before being booted back to the main menu. The game constantly reminds you that, hey, you can unlock the full game if you want, just press here to do so. You want Achievements or better equipment or the nudity code? Unlock full version here.

Speaking of Achievements, for some reason, I now have Crimson Alliance added to my list of owned games. This means I can look at the list of 12 Achievements, something you don’t get to do with game demos, and see what there is to unlock. However, can’t unlock anything. Gotta upgrade for that sweetness. Which leaves me no choice but to delete the game from my hard-drive and hopefully permanently remove it from my owned games list. Cause I’m not interested in owning it, and that’s mainly because it’s more Gauntlet than Torchlight, and I’m all about the loot over social beatdowns. There’s less focus on loot and RPG elements here and more on slashing at waves of enemies and solving room puzzles with a partner.

That said, the game has some striking still art, strong narration, and an easy-to-get-into feel. Just a lack of crazy cool gear. Not for me, but your mileage may vary.

Games Completed in 2011, #9 – Torchlight

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.