Sunday, November 1, 2009

Torchlight Review

Platform: PC
Genre: hack&slash

From time to time ... a leprechaun appears, grabs your hand and takes you to the end of the 16-bit rainbow to award you with his big pot of golden LEGO blocks. And then while you think of the layout of a lego castle ... while you reach for the pieces ... he starts dancing and then he bumfucks you ... with a spoon.

Torchlight is the game version of that leprechaun ... only it has ... a big, wooden spoon covered in splinters. At first glance it looks like a Blizzard fanboy took Diablo and Warcraft III ... and blended them into the perfect game (for him). The story goes, that in the quiet mining town of Torchlight, ... aaaaaa ... well ... you go in a mine and start killing monsters. I know I'll get a lot of boooooos ... but come on, it's a hack&slash ... whatever the story ... the goal is the same, kill like there's no tommorow... for loot and money. Now, seriously how many of you knew the exact story of Diablo 1 after the first runthrough ? (i mean the details... names like Azmodan and Belial ringing any bells ?).
Back to Torchlight ...

"In the fantasy world that serves as the setting of Torchlight, Ember is a mysterious ore which has the power to imbue people and items with magical power.(...) Torchlight is built above a rich vein of Ember, (...). Ember has a corrupting influence which led to the fall of past civilizations and endangers those who use it in the present." (Taken from Wikipedia... )

Good, now we know the story ... and I know why I constantly had to get various types of Ember for some dude. The game mainly consists of 3 quest repeated till the end ... sorry 4 quests. One is the main quest ... where you only have to go deeper into the dungeon, then there is one to get ember, one to kill a boss (different type of ember and different boss each time) and there is one guy in town that will send you in random 2-level dungeons from time to time.

Also at traders you can buy maps (each has a level requirement) and they will also take you through random dungeons when activated.

So till now we have a standard hack&slash, with a xp bar, inventory, lots of monsters to kill, random dungeons, items varying from plain to rare, unique, epic or set. Where's the bad part then ?

But before I go there...
At the beginning of the game you get to choose from 3 classes (they are 3 standard classes like in any RPG but they wanted to give them a more personal touch and name them differently).
Well there is the Destroyer (Warrior for dummies, my roommate named him "Terminator"), the Alchemist (Spellcaster) and the Vanquisher (Archer). Also you get to pick from the two pets available: a dog (normal people would call that a wolf) and something they call a cat (and If I'll ever see a cat like that ... well... slowly I would turn around and then run like there's no tomorrow to the nearest anti-atomic shelter and lock myself in). Anyway ... they won't bite your butt off ... so everything is ok. They have a health and mana bar of their own, they level up ... and if you're one of those people who likes to dress up their pets ... well ... bad luck ... you can only equip them with a necklace and 2 rings. Also they can learn 2 spells which they will use until exhaustion (or untill their mana reaches 0 :P). But the most convenient part about the pets is that they have an inventory, same size as yours, and you can send them to town (while crawling through the dungeon) to sell everything. Oh, and they don't die. If they possessed the ability to buy identify scrolls it would've been a bless ... but they don't.

Every character has 3 skill trees, but you don't have to go on one specific tree to get to it's bottom, skills being unlocked as the player level's up. Also, they introduced a fame bar which gets filled as you kill champions and turn in quests. With every fame level up, you get one extra skill point.

The graphics are cartoony, actually very close to Warcraft III. If you played it or if you're playing DotA ... you'll feel right at home (and no, I never touched DotA ... my only connection to that game/mod ... is the song DotA from Basshunter). The whole idea ... of entering through the town ... going deeper and deeper ... mines ... then temple, then lava ... and so on...reminded me so much of Diablo that I could even hear the creepy tune from Tristram. Then my roommate's phone rang, had to turn off the speakers for a sec ... and I realized ... I wasn't schizophrenic ... it was the actual soundtrack of the game ...
When I turned them back on I listened very carefully ... it really sounded like Tristram ... but they changed it a bit ... maybe they didn't want a law-suit. Curious by nature, I google'd the name of the composer ... result: "Diablo composer and sound designer Matt Uelmen also joined the team, creating original music and sound for the game." (thank you wikipedia...again)
Apparently most of the people behind the game ... are ex-Blizzard-employees-who-worked-on-Diablo.

What I didn't like about this was its difficulty... played on normal... almost every monster is a one-hit-kill. The only one that felt a bit harder was the last boss. Also, the loading times are a bit big, every time I had to go deeper into the dungeon or open the portal to town ... or sometimes enter the game ... I was like "do I really have to ?". The biggest problem I encountered is that when I went to kill the last boss ... he was 12 levels lower than me. I guess they forgot to put some enemy power scaling somewhere. What, am I the only total retard who did all the extra-maps from vendors? Also the quest rewards (for me at least) were totally useless, and from some point on ... I didn't change any item at all (too many things to care about + I was Rambo) only if it had higher armor (sounds noob-ish ... but why bother ? I was Rambo anyway).
I know it's a mindless hack&slash but why did they have to make it for cave dwellers possessing the IQ of a rock ?

I have yet to try any skills, except the first one you gain as a warr... sorry Destroyer. All my points went into passives ... and judging by its difficulty ... I had a lot of points invested to make my wolf/dog/whatever (I called him Maidanezu... stray-dog in english) go faster to town and back.

You have to watch out for the ending ... if you skip the dialogs, you might just pass it big time ... and you will wake up wondering, after 2 months of playing, when you ding 176 how much more will it take. I hope it isn't a spoiler but the end of the game is at floor 35.
After that you get into town, and a new dungeon is opened with 2 more quest-givers... Apparently that one goes forever ...

Also, it has no multiplayer... which is a considerable downer for the game. I imagined myself playing along 3 or 4 other players gang-banging every monster ... but

Anyway... although there are a few (in my opinion) major flaws... it's fun and it will consume 2!?!?!?! WHY ONLY 2~??~ days of your life.

I almost forgot (actually I did, but I edited the post :P). There is this weird old man voice that likes to underline your every action "you're pet has departed for town" ... and so on ... but he has such a sweet old voice ... every time I heard him I could see Father Tucker smiling. If you don't know who him be ... google it !

The bad: too easy, too short, no multiplayer
The good: gives you a welcomed Diablo feeling

p.s. I didn't find a cover picture of the game ... so I came up with something just to keep all the reviews following a template...