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Game Info:

Torchlight (PC)
Developed by: Runic Games
Published By: Perfect World Entertainment, Encore Inc
Release Date: October 2009, Mac version coming in 2010
Version Reviewed: PC
Genre: Action RPG
ESRB Rated: Teen
Players: Single player
Price: $20
(Amazon affiliate link)

System Requirements:
Windows 2000 or later
x86-compatible 800MHz processor
512MB RAM
400MB drive space
DirectX-compatible video card with at least 64MB of addressable memory (such as an ATI Radeon 7200, NVIDIA GeForce 2, or Intel GMA 950)

Torchlight is a vibrant and unique third person dungeon crawler featuring three different classes, lots of enemies, and randomly generated dungeons to explore. Erich Schaefer is one of the developers, and his resume includes the popular Diablo and Diablo 2 games. Unfortunately, there’s no multiplayer support at this time. When you beat the main quest, there’s a never ending dungeon that you can explore, loot, and thrash monsters in.

The basic story goes as follows: the town of Torchlight revolves around the mining of ember. Ember stones carry various powers and can be placed in weapons or armor to enhance their ability. The mining caves have become unstable with tremors and earthquakes. If that\'s not bad enough, the mines are now plagued with various monsters and minions. It’s up to you to investigate the source of this evil and protect the town.

There are three classes to choose from, and you can have a dog or a cat as a pet to help you fight and carry your inventory. You can teach you pets magic spells, and they can wear rings or necklaces to enhance their powers or offer elemental protection. Destroyers are the archetypal warriors that specialize in melee weapons; they can also summon ancestral spirits for magical effects. Alchemists are mages who draw upon the power of ember to cast spells; they can summon robotic imps and blast magic and electricity from their focus gloves. Lastly, there are female Vanquishers, rogues that specialize in ranged weapons (guns, arrows) and can use traps.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Unique and colorful graphics; randomly generated dungeons
Weak Points: No multiplayer
Moral Warnings: Magic use; female character has revealing armor

When your character levels up, you can place skill points in Strength, Magic, Defense, or Dexterity. The skill tree allows your character to learn some skills from other classes. Each class has their own unique abilities. Even though I played as the Vanquisher, I was still pretty good with melee/magic weapons and spell casting. There are various skills such as bartering to lower merchant prices, adventurer to gain gold and experience faster, the ability to lower armor/spell/weapon requirements, dual wielding, increase critical hit chances and so much more. The skill tree isn’t that complex, but it’s decent.

There’s a unique mini game worth noting. In the town and some of the dungeons you’ll come across fishing pools. Just click on the water and your character will start to fish, when your hook starts shaking you have a bite. If you click on it in time, you’ll catch a fish or an item. The fish can transform your pet or offer them a unique ability if you feed it to them.

The enemies are unique and increase in difficulty as you decent lower into the caverns. You’ll have your typical skeletons, dragons, blobs, spiders, but there are many new creatures to conquer. In town, there will be mini quests to bring back a specific item, ember or defeat a named mini boss. As you defeat enemies or complete quests, you’ll be rewarded with gold, experience and fame. When you die, you have three different resurrection options. You can resurrect where you died at the cost of experience and fame, resurrect at the beginning of the level and lose gold, or resurrect in town and lose nothing.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 84%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls 5/5

Morality Score - 86%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 6.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

In town there are various merchants and services provided. There are a couple craftsmen who specialize in recovering or destroying ember stones from items, a gambler where you can buy enchanted weapons with unknown stats, an enchanter, and more.

The controls are mouse and keyboard driven. To talk to people, or fight monsters you have to click on them. Keyboard shortcuts are essential and are easily configured. There’s a green merchant button that allows you to send your pet to sell inventory. This is extremely helpful for the few dungeons and portals where you cannot use a town portal spell.

For the most part, Torchlight runs with few stability issues. I did encounter one glitch where my character became stuck in a dungeon. Using a town portal scroll didn’t help at all. I had to enable the console and type ASCEND to bring my character back to town. I haven’t run into this problem since.

Graphically, this game is unique with its cartoon-like feel. It reminds me of Tales of Monkey Island its art direction. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this game used the open source OGRE engine. The dungeon levels all have a different and unique look to them, and the magic spells and particle effects look amazing. The monsters and characters are colorful and very detailed. In the options menu, there is a netbook mode that will scale the graphics back to run on slower and lower resolution systems.

Another Diablo veteran, Matt Uelmen composed the music for Torchlight. The music is good and fitting, especially the boss battle music which makes the game more immersive. The voice acting and sound effects are well done. Some of the monsters have cute noises that remind me of the Halo aliens.

From an appropriateness standpoint, there is magic in this game, it’s hard not to use it. I was disappointed by the female outfits, as I never found armor that would full cover my character’s legs or torso. By default the game does have blood splatters, but it can be disabled. It almost goes without saying that you\'ll be destroying lots of monsters and minions.

The retail price of the game is $19.99, but I got mine on sale for $9.99 on Steam. One nice advantage to the steam version is that the server stores my character data, so I don’t have to manually transfer my saves between my laptop and desktop. I have put about twenty one hours into this game. There are achievements and mods available to extend the shelf life. Some of the mods include different pets such as ferrets or armor skins. According to the Wikipedia page, there’s a free MMO in the works. I look forward to checking that out. If you want to check out Torchlight, grab the demo.

About the Author

Cheryl Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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