Torchlight

Torchlight is a game that reminds me of Diablo. It should, because the same people made both. Sometime after Diablo 2 released, there were some company politics happened in Blizzard North. Many important people left, which sowed the seeds for new ideas and companies. One group founded Flagship Studios, who eventually made Hellgate London. That game had demonic themes (because those people had been making Diablo games for a decade), but it had serious bugs. The Seattle division of Flagship founded Runic Games. Still having Blizzard pedigree, they decided to do a spiritual successor (of sorts) of Diablo.

"Screenshot of Torchlight, with the Destroyer in the middle of a heated fight."

Torchlight is a small mining town that has fallen on hard times, because the mines have been invaded by something evil. That mine leads down into a crypt, then ruins of an ancient civilization, then caverns, then down into hell. I thought the boss would be somewhere around there, but I was wrong. Apparently, hell is built on dwarven ruins, which are built on an evil fortress of some kind, that is in remarkably good repair.

The levels are mapped out by randomly sticking prebuilt rooms and hallways (of the same theme) together. Like Skyrim, there's sometimes a lever or button you have to push to extend a bridge or open a door to continue the dungeon. Each room feels special, but after a while, I noticed that I've been through this area before, but a level or two ago. There are usually a few named bosses on each level. Their names are generated in the form of er The , like Plaguespreader The Foul.

The gameplay is dependent on which class you choose. There's the destroyer (close combat), alchemist (mage), and vanquisher (ranged combat). I chose the destroyer. It got kind of monotonous. The destroyer has this swipe attack that hits multiple targets in front of him (at the cost of some mana), and I used that almost exclusively. After a sizable fight, the bodies (and loot) litter the ground, falling in two (or less) hits. Character progression consists of distributing 5 points to four attributes (non-ranged damage, ranged damage, magic damage, absorbed damage), and 1 (later, 2) to skill trees. (Those dialogs look suspiciously similar to Diablo's.)

"Screenshot of Torchlight, after a big fight."

Along with your class, you have a pet. I bet most people would choose the dog, but I'm a cat person. (It's not a housecat: it looks more like a lynx.) Your pet is useful: not only is he a capable fighter, but he can also go to town and sell your stuff for you while you plow ahead. I've used that nifty feature many times, because I run out of inventory space after each level. Your inventory is divided into three categories, each with 24 slots: equipment, spells, and fish. Yup, fish. Enemies will not drop fish. You will have to go to the water, find a spot, and pull up when your pole shakes. Feed yourself, or your pet a fish for a bonus, or to transform your dog into a cat! (Permanently!)

I discovered that this game is light enough that I can play it while I watch Youtube. I can mow through enemies while catching up my favorite channels. Unfortunately, I can't one-hand this. Mouse action is required to navigate the world and attack enemies. The hotkeys that are available are very limited, and only control spells and potions, and open menus. Lefty feels left out! Writing of navigating the world, I find this game has some poor pathfinding. My pet gets stuck on cliffs, like while I'm running down the stairs below, though the pet recognizes when it's off screen and teleports. When clicking to go to an accessible area, your character only navigates what is visible on-screen, not off.

After killing the big boss, the game can continue with an infinite number of levels in another "shadow" dungeon. At this point, the game becomes a boring grind-fest. The only new quests are kill this champion, or pickup this trinket. The game gives you the option to retire, allowing you to hand down one of your treasures as an "heirloom" to your kid, who keeps your level and starts the game over.

Overall, this is a decent game, but keep your expectations reasonable. It might get repetitive after a while.