PAX 2009 - Torchlight Hands On

by: Chuck -
There's a part of me that wanted preview Torchlight without mentioning the Diablo games but after staring at the screen for more than 10 minutes there's no way I can talk about Torchlight without bringing up Blizzard's classic franchise. That's probably not much of a problem for the Runic folks as the game's delay of Diablo III should be a gold mine for the developer who's ranks include some folks who used to work for Blizzard

The game allows you to select from three classes (Destroyer, Alchemist, and Vanquisher) and then explore the dungeons below the town of Torchlight. There's a plot about finding why a mysterious ore is corrupting people but it's just there to help get you into the randomly generated dungeons and wade through the 40 different kind of monsters that have taken root below the dungeon. I'm not trying to downplay the well written plot but we're here to kick ass and drink ale, and we're all out of ale.

Torchlight does play like your typical action RPG as there's loot galore and lots of monsters to slay and you can expect your mouse to get a good workout playing the game.   Runic has put a few of their own touches on the game as there's a fishing mini game where the resulting fish can be used to power up your character's pet. Your pet can also be used to ferry items you want to sell back to the city to be converted into gold which is a nice touch for those who want to empty their backpack without wasting a Town portal spell or making the trek up themselves.

The single player portion of the game is expected to take between 20-30 hours to complete. On top of that Runic expects that once you complete the quest your character will only have reached level 30 (the level cap is set at 100). While this sounds like a huge time investment Torchlight is being built so that the game can be enjoyed in 20 minute and 10 hour chunks of time so this is one of those duration vs. work things that project managers and busy folk have to deal with.

The game doesn't slouch in the graphics department either and has a cool fairy tale look to it. The world isn't just dark colors either as there are plenty of bright colors to the world. The game features eight different zones to explore, each with their own look and inhabitants. Animations were also sharp and very smooth looking. Runic is designing the game to run on low end machines and are hinting that the game may even run on those new fangled Netbooks that are all the rage right now.

The game will ship with the same level editing tools the developers used to build the game and you'll have the ability to create your own levels or even modify the ones that ship with the game. Developer blogs and how to entries have already been posted to the official Torchlight site so you can start learning now before the game ships.

It's worth noting that Runic will be releasing a MMO version of the game in the future and while they were mum on any of the multiplayer details they did say that we could expect to see a lot of things like small scale instanced dungeons (for four to five people) and even large scale raids after the game is released in October. I got the feeling that you shouldn't expect that part of the game anytime soon but it's worth getting just so you know the game.

How much would you pay for all this gaming goodness? $50? $40? No the folks at Torchlight are practically giving the game away at $20 which includes all of the content plus the level editor. That's a steal for what was one of the hidden gems at PAX.  If you're even remotely into action RPG 's you owe it to yourself to check out Torchlight as you're getting a ton of content for less than the cost of two pizzas.

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