The time has finally come to publish the Everyday Gamers review of Torchlight, and I cannot say enough.  I will try not to repeat all of the information I relayed in my preview of this game, but this has been one of the best rides of the past year.

The Story

Just to recap a little, Torchlight is a hack-n-slash dungeon crawler by Runic games, the same masterminds behind the first two Diablo games and the Fate series, and it builds upon the elements started by those monumental titles.  The player picks one of three classes, a Destroyer, a Vanquisher or an Alchemist.   It takes place in the mining town of the same name, where mining of Ember has corrupted people and brought a Blight upon the land.  As a new traveler coming to Torchlight, you initially begin helping a female character by the name of Syl, whose companion has chased some of the foul blight monsters back to the depths of Torchlight’s mines.  Taking that first step draws you in to not only helping vanquish the monsters and attempt to save Brink, but solve the bigger problem of stopping the Blight, containing the Dark Ember threat, and even cleansing yourself from the taint of Ember.

The Gameplay

While all of that sounds like an interesting plotline, the story is a fairly vague backdrop to the amazingly tight gameplay Torchlight offers.  You start by creating a your character, and choosing and naming a pet Dog or Cat to accompany them.  Your pet not only acts as a pack mule to open up your inventory, but can also be taught spells to use in combat, when instructed to take an “aggressive” stance.  Also, by fishing at specialized location in-game, you can find fish that, when fed to your pet can turn them into a variety of creatures or apply boosted stats and effects for limited times.  The action comes hard and fast, even on the lower difficulties, which can be  rewarding depending on customizations made to unique skill sets.  The skill sets do much to offset the cookie cutter classes of the Vanquisher and Destroyer, creating endless possibilities for mixing melee and magic abilities that are not always available to these classes.  It is this customization in the hands of the player that can take a second or third play-through with that class and offer you to play as a vastly different character, based on the skills you choose to accentuate. As a point and click dungeon crawler, Torchlight offers only a few innovations to the controls, which need not be updated.  Left-click attacks, right-click can be bound to any of your inventory items, abilities or spells, two spells can be alternated by hitting the ‘Tab’ key for on the fly change during combat.  The main dungeon offers 35 levels, but a town NPC who portals you to various dungeons, dungeon portal maps you can obtain, and and endless dungeon after the game’s completion take the longevity of the game far past those main 35 levels.  Runic has nailed the gameplay, crafting a highly addictive “one more level” allure that engulfs you for hours when you may have only intended to jump in for twenty minutes.  Dungeon levels are like Pringles, there’s no way to stop after just one.  Characters can also be retired following the completion of the game, allowing you to pass along one item of your choice, with boosted stats for future characters to use. Loot, Loot, Loot!  Let’s talk about that loot!  Tons of weapons abound as the enemies fall, including pistols and rifles.  Items and armor vary from being normal, enchanted, rare and unique.  Also included are unique sets of gear that offer further stat bonuses for each piece collected and equipped together.  One last accolade, Torchlight has entered a crowded PC market of high system requirements and managed to submit a game that outperforms them on any system, even offering a Netbook Mode, to allow smooth play on most netbooks.  It’s refreshing to see a game such as this emerge among the squabbling over increasing system requirements and prove that it is not necessary to have top of the line hardware to experience an amazing game.

A Word About Mods

While not part of the original game, I felt this element deserved a mention in the review.  Many mods have become available for Torchlight, offering new character classes, new pets, new skins for both, new skills, new items, new monsters and various tweaks to the gameplay.  Merchant mods change up the town merchants and make items available only through item drops now something you can simply purchase from a town merchant.  In Torchlight, you are limited to carrying a maximum of 20 potions, scrolls or items in a stack, however that can be modded to a whopping 200 to free up some much needed inventory space.  While Runic cannot be held accountable for problems with mods, or the content created, the simple fact that they have opened up an already amazing game to be tweaked and retooled by the players is very commendable.  I’m sure some ideas could be latched onto for future iterations, or the rumored MMO component that they may or may not be adding to the game. Best of all, unlike the DLC delivery system offerings, Torchlight’s mods are completely free!

The Verdict

Torchlight is an amazing game, worth every penny paid for it.  I was lucky enough to grab it at a 50% off sale online, but I dare say it is a game I would gladly have paid full price, or more to play and walked away completely satisfied.  The longevity of the game carries far beyond your initial playthrough, and the addictiveness cannot be paralleled.  Torchlight stands head and shoulders with it’s competitors, some it may not have intended to compete with, coming out far ahead.  I dare say they have raised the bar for not only future hack and slash dungeon crawlers, but for even the coveted Diablo III.  I tip my hat to thee, Runic, and await your future quests.

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