Given the critical acclaim of Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo series, it was only natural for there to be imitators, among them being Runic Games’ Torchlight, which saw its digital release late in 2009 and retail release the following year, its creators actually being behind the first and second games in the Diablo franchise. Though a tad derivative, the game provides a nice hack-and-slash RPG experience.

Much like the original Diablo, the player can choose from three character classes upon starting a new game, including the Destroyer, which specializes in melee combat; the Alchemist, which specializes in magic; and the Vanquisher, which specializes in ranged attacks. The player can also choose and name a feline or canine companion for the protagonist, not to mention a difficulty level. Afterward, players begin the game in the titular town of Torchlight, where they can perform functions such as shopping for new equipment and items. If they’re ready, the player can venture into the game’s randomly-generated dungeon (although floors stay in their current state like in Diablo), to battle enemies, gather new equipment and items, and teleport back to town with special scrolls if their inventory is full.

Gameplay is fairly similar to the Diablo games, where the player can click on enemies to attack them with their equipped weapon or weapons, with foes occasionally dropping money, items, and equipment. The player can assign MP-consuming skills to the right mouse button, with the left used for normal attacks on default. Players naturally earn experience from killing enemies, with level-ups happening occasionally, in which case they can increase various stats by five points (most weapons and armor have certain stat requirements), and invest one point into various skills native to each class. Some items, like in the Diablo games, require the player to identify them with special scrolls.

The game handles death quite well, with the player in this instance receiving several choices, such as paying money or experience to revive in the same floor, or return to town with no penalty. Even if the player pays to avoid transport back to town, however, the game dumps players back at the beginning of the floor where they died, which can account for some annoying repetition at times. Even so, the battle system works quite well, with the different difficulty levels accommodating players with different skills.

Control is mostly solid, with a linear structure that keeps the player moving in the right direction, with a more generous, but still limited, inventory space, than in the Diablo titles. The convenience of town scroll portals is another mark in the game’s favor, and ultimately, interaction doesn’t very much detract from the game.

As with most RPGs in which the player customizes their own protagonist, the story is fairly light, aside from occasional quests NPCs provide, although there aren’t any errors in the dialogue.

The music creates a nice ambience, although the tracks aren’t exactly catchy, and the voice clips are largely solid.

The 3-D graphics are nice and don’t detract from the experience, either, with different equipment affecting the protagonist’s appearance, although things can look a tad blocky and blurry-textured when seen up close.

Finally, one can finish the game in around ten hours, with an extra dungeon having seemingly infinite floors providing excellent lasting appeal. Overall, Torchlight, given its solid hack-and-slash gameplay, music, and graphics, is a generally positive experience, although the gameplay can admittedly become repetitive. Those on the fence can fortunately play a free demo before considering buying the whole game.

The Good:
+Solid hack-and-slash gameplay.
+Music and graphics create nice ambience.
+Different classes add replay value.

The Bad:
-Light on story.

The Bottom Line:
Good if you like hack-and-slash RPGs.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PC
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Controls: 9/10
Story: 6/10
Music/Sound: 7/10
Graphics: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: 10+ Hours

Overall: 8.5/10

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