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Archive for November 23rd, 2009

First torch I see tonight,
Wish I may, wish I might,
Find a game worth playing tonight.

Yes, it’s silly; yes, I’m not terribly original; yes, it fits the game well enough…

LATE BREAKING ADDITION:

Pete over at DragonChasers has a post up with a link to an interview of the Runic Games CEO (thanks, Pete!).  Torchlight is meant to segue into an MMO at some point.  This interview has some great comments, and it sounds like these guys understand the market.  Very candid, if a bit “softball”, this interview is well worth a peek if you’re interested in Torchlight:

Torchlight Dev Interview

ANOTHER LATE BREAKING ADDENDUM:

Getting the demo via Steam actually is content limited, rather than time limited, like the demo via Runic directly.  This is great news, since either preference can be accommodated.

I downloaded the Torchlight demo to see just what the fuss is about.  It’s a beast of a 413 MB download (though that’s smaller than many modern games)  According to the FAQ, that’s the footprint for the installed game, so I suspect that the demo download really is just the full game.  The catch is that you’re limited to only playing for 120 minutes.

I’m a bit ambivalent about that, actually.  I’m of a mind that demos function better when they aren’t time-limited, but rather, content limited.  There’s a compelling case to be made in either direction, though, so it’s not something that I’m too fussy about.  Just know going in that the Torchlight demo is of the time-limited variety.  (They didn’t point out on the site, as far as I could tell.)

At any rate, I figured I’d have two good hours with the game.  That’s fair enough to get a sense of what it has to offer, I think.  It’s not like you’re going to Torchlight for a fifty hour story.  You’re going to play it for some aesthetically appealing dungeon crawling.  And well… WYSIWYG.  Truth in Advertising.

Torchlight is a dungeon crawler with some satisfyingly fun gameplay.  The art direction is solid, and sits in a nice space between cartoony and emogothpixelshader.  (Though the token chick is still just a bimbo with a gun.  No surprise, no progress.)  It’s not War and Peace, it’s not Braid, it’s not Portal.  It’s a visually appealing loot treadmill with plenty of monsters to be whacked.  If that’s the sort of fun you’re looking for, Torchlight will make you a very happy gamer.  The lovely price point of $20 is icing on the cake.

I wound up playing as an Alchemist with a Dog for a pet.  I chased the “pet control” talent tree and wound up with my Dog and three little Imps shuffling around from place to place as I chipped in magic ranged attacks and pistol/wand shots from the back row.  Yeah, I was a Huntard/Warlock hybrid… and I loved it.  It almost felt like a squad based RTS with minimalist controls.  I’d bum rush a herd of baddies, let my little Zerglings and Ultralisk go to town at close range, and serve up three flavors of ranged PAIN.  When the field was clear, I’d claim the spoils (walking over gold picks it up automatically, but you still need to click on items individually) and spoil for another fight.

Yummy, yummy mindless loot pinata fun.  It’s not something that I’d ever do all day, every day, but man, for the two hours I had the game running, I was a happy camper.  It’s probably best played in runs like that in between other gaming so you don’t get tired of it.  Unless you live on that sort of thing anyway.  *shrug*

Of course, it’s not all hugs and roses.  (Or is that guns and kisses?  I can never remember.)  As it happens, I was staring at a loading screen for almost a quarter of my time in the game.  My laptop isn’t cutting edge, but neither is it a dinosaur.  This bothered me a little bit, but I can’t really fault the game much for it; my machine may simply be slow.  It just stunk when my time in the game was limited.  No “pick up all local loot” button seems a glaring omission to me.  There isn’t much here for womens’ lib in games.  There is no respec function without a mod. (But the modding tools look really powerful.)  You can only get the game via digital download, either from the devs directly or via Steam.  Since I don’t like Steam much these days and I’m not sure about the DRM stance of the dev download, I’m a bit leery of such a purchase.  Maybe I’ll pick it up in a box when they get around to releasing it that way.

None of these are all that terrible, and really, what the Torchlight guys are offering is a gem of a game.  I’m still on the bubble about actually buying it (since I have too much going on already and I don’t want to be tied to the internet or limited downloads for actually playing the game… especially if I want to install it on more than one machine), but I can readily recommend it to fans of the dungeon crawling genre.

If nothing else, I’m keeping my eye on the game to see what they do with the proposed transition into an MMO.  I’m leery of that just because I don’t like the internet tether… but I do wish them well.  The game will never be the “virtual world” that I’ve asked for time and again, but as a straight up funhouse grind, it works beautifully.  Sometimes, even for theorytwits like me, that hits the sweet “zoning out” spot just right.

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