Diablo. One word. But for millions of gamers, one word says all that needs to be said. Diablo is a classic series, and one that every Action CRPG strives to match. Diablo III is currently in production by Blizzard, and we *may* see it in 2010 (if we’re very lucky). What is a Diablo fan to do while waiting? Obviously, Diablo 2 is still there to give us joy. Admittedly, while the gameplay is still solid, the graphics are really beginning to show their age.
Looking to satisfy the Diablo geeks in the universe, Runic Games has released Torchlight. How would I describe Torchlight in a sentence? Diablo meets WoW, falls in love, then trains the hunter pets to use jewelery, spells, and run to the corner store.
That’s right, kids. You all hate that “Your inventory is full” message. Well, why should you have to port to the store, when Snookums or Petey can run there and bring you back the money while you keep killing evil? It is empowering.
As soon as the game loads, the music flows over you. It is not overly ornate, it pulls you in and reminds of the sounds of Diablo past. It is equally suitable for running around the town of Torchlight or mowing down the varied hordes.
The gameplay is pure Diablo, everyone has Area of Effect abilities, and the game makes sure you put them to use by sending waves of ravening evildoers to swarm over you. The classes all manage to feel powerful, but retain their own style. Though, if you want to mix and match, the diverse skill trees make it so that the 3 classes in the game seem like many more.
The interface is a nice mixture of WoW and Diablo, you can use abilities by binding to the mouse keys or using the number keys that correspond to your ability bar. One key difference is that clicking on the skill bar brings up a Diablo style skill setting window, which will be a rude awakening to a WoW-familiar player trying to get off a quick button click.
The town has the vendors you would expect, but that is not all. There is a transmuter (think Horadric Cube), an enchanter (think making your awesome gear levels upon levels more awesome, or removing all the enchantments, or doing nothing at all), and an item salvager and gem salvager (destroys either the item or the gem and leaves the other).
I have only two minor quibbles with this game. There is a lack of multiplayer. This is understandable, considering the truncated production time frame, but it would be really nice to play with some pals online (though the upcoming free to play Torchlight MMO should resolve this issue). Second, there is no way to respec your skill trees. Maybe WoW has spoiled me, but I like being able to play with my build and tweak things.
Overall, this is an outstanding game that has sucked away hours of my free time, and I feel like the best is still to come. With its $19.99 price tag, Torchlight is a game that will end up costing pennies per hour of play time. That kind of value is hard to deny. What are you still reading for? Go get yourself a copy of Torchlight and ease those Diablo III waiting pains.