Game On!: Torchlight
Isn't it nice when you discover a shining jewel of a game just by happenstance or word-of-mouth? Torchlight, the first game released by fledgling developer Runic Games, is one such jewel.
At its foundation - returning gamers to the roots of the fantasy-action RPG - it's nothing new, but the execution of the formula is near flawless.
Players make fantasy characters, travel into deep dungeons and click on enemies to earn magical armor, weapons and spells, which then allow them to travel deeper into the dungeon to earn better armor, weapons and spells.
Players assume one of three character roles in this single-player adventure. They dive deep into the monster-infested mines of the town of Torchlight, on a search for a magical element called Ember. Ember apparently corrupts those who wield it, and attracts monstrous forces to its location.
The game has three fairly simple classes - a melee class called the Destroyer, the magical Alchemist and the ranger-like Vanquisher.
Along with special items for each class, all the customizable characters start with a pet, either a cat or dog. These companion animals can run back to the hub town and sell your extra loot, or even transform into helpful monsters for periods of time.
Torchlight takes all these conventions and updates them with a sparkling new visual design, a simple backstory and the best parts of the innovation introduced to the genre over the last five years. You'll come across socketed items that players can insert jewels into for enhancement, a gambling vendor and special monsters who drop enhanced items when defeated.
The dungeons offer great replay value, since every game is unique and the dungeon interiors are randomly generated. The objectives will persist between playthroughs, but the landscape is different with each new character.
Additionally, the developers are releasing the game's creation toolkit and encouraging the community to modify and add to the title. Before long, new classes, items and foes should be available online to download for free.
The system requirements for Torchlight are also surprisingly modest. The game is designed to run on older computers and even some netbook PCs, and a Macintosh Snow Leopard-compatible version is in development as well.
For now, Torchlight is only available online through the game's website, TorchlightGame.com, and on various distribution networks like Steam for about the price of a trip to the movies.
Check out this week's GameOn! podcast for an interview with the minds behind "Torchlight," and some discussion of a "Torchlight" MMO that's on the horizon. Click to dispatch.ning.com
System: Windows PC
Who Should Buy it?: Fans of Diablo and his brothers
GameOn! Grade: A