Blizzard can stop developing Diablo 3 now, Torchlight is out!
But seriously… Playing Torchlight feels like being teleported back into the Ninties, when Diablo _1_ was out and rocked. Because, Torchlight IS Diablo 1 (I didn’t like Diablo 2 a lot). And I say this with the most positive thoughts in mind! Torchlight is not a mere copy though, how the beginning could make it sound. It’s Diablo 1 with all the gameplay improvements, that slowly became some sort of standard since then and a good portion of fresh ideas (the game even has an extra mode for netbooks). At the same time, no good parts were dropped. Voilà! Thus a hit is made…
One of the most brilliant additions is the pet. Lots of fun things happen here. Besides the actual player character, the pet can be named at the beginning of the game. Cat or dog are available (though this can still be changed later in the game – it’s not written in stone).
The crazy, whacky fun is, the pet has its own inventory and can even learn some spells! But there’s more – the inventory isn’t just handy for carrying more items, the pet can even be sent back to town on its own, where it will sell the stuff and return after. This keeps the gameplay much more fluent and action oriented, when it becomes unnecessary to return to town every few minutes, while max gold can be earned with sales (no item left behind). Also, this way the pet rather resembles a trusty sidekick, instead of a mere gimmick.
This is STILL not everything. At certain hot spots, a fishing mini game is possible. The so gained fishes, can be fed to the pet and will change it either permanent or (usually) temporary.
All kinds of monsters are accessible through this option.
Yet another nice twist are lots of random dungeons, that just wait to be explored. Other than Diablo, Torchlight hasn’t just this xx level deep dungeon directly under town, but other possibilities like maps, that will open new portals. There are even some “phase beasts”, who leave a portal to a secret room behind, once slain.
All in all this game is no letdown and does a lot to cheer up, you’ll see what I’m talking about, once you are “done” with the main dungeon. Great game design!
Some more short details:
The town has 2 chests to store items, one is dedicated to the current character – the second is a share between all of them. Very welcome!
The skill level (normal is still easy) offers a permanent death option, where a character really dies. Otherwise there are 3 different options for resurrection.
Huge amounts of gold do come in handy (in Diablo, at some point, I threw all the gold somewhere on the floor), because enchanting is expensive, but creates the most powerful items.
Great savegame system. The game can be shutdown at any time, when starting up again, it will resume at the same spot.
Even in the latest version 1.15 it’s easy to crash the game, by equipping the spell Aloe Gel to your pet. The pet will then start to cast this spell automatically and the game will crash regularly back to the desktop ([…] has stopped working). It almost drove me mad until I learned the reason for this. Torchlight hasn’t crashed once, since I removed this damn spell… I don’t know if it’s very hard to fix or if they put all their resources into Torchlight II, but… I wish they would still fix it, although the game might be considered “old” now.