Torchlight

Torchlight is a hack and slash RPG by Runic Entertainment. The plot is: there’s this mining town and there’s some bad stuff going on and someone has to go down the mines, and then the crypts, and the caves, and the lava world, and the dwarf fortress, and so on, and kill Satan. Yes it’s the plot to Diablo, but this time with cartoony graphics and overall more fun. Plus it was made in 2009 so it’s not exactly like it has clunky graphics, walking everywhere, and an interface that is a bit limiting. Actually, the interface is limiting but the game is too much fun to complain about that for more than one sentence.

This game lets you play as a Space Marine…

The most boring character, seriously.

“Grrrr! I will kill all the chaos space marines! In the grim future of mankind there is only war! etc etc etc.”

…an “Alchemist” who is really more of a steampunk wizard…

Like all spellcasters in these games he is hopelessly overpowered.

“I got a stick and I’m not afraid to use it!”

…or a Vanquisher, who apparently is some kind of gun-toting trap-slinging assassin troubleshooter badass woman…

Why would anyone play a character who doesn't shoot the hell out of things?

That’s her canonical name from the second game. The other two don’t have names. Because they are boring.

Tough choice, there. Oh wait, I get a pet. PETS! WHAT ARE THEY? Dog, boring. Cat, boring. Ferret! Ferrets are illegal in my country so naturally I find them cute and wonderful and fascinating.

Onward to Adventure!

Well, here I am, apparently having forgotten to pack anything remotely looking like real clothing. Oh hey what is going on in this dirty little town? Just a drunken brawl, I think.

The other main export from this town is status popups

If you’re going to be like that, you’re on your own!

Oh, that was actually some monsters being evil and attacking the town. I shoot some arrows around, not really caring much and them some woman with a pointy stick tells me to go and help her friend out. Uh, okay. I guess.

Syl surivives to the intro of Torchlight 2 and then gets splattered

“Yeah Syl, I know. They look like proper clothes, and then we put them on and suddenly half the fabric is gone.”

So I run around the mines finding clothes and weapons and also lots of little rat people with pick axes. Awww, so cute! Especially how they explode when I hit them hard enough.

I'm glad I don't have to clean the mess in this mine up.

The rat goes splat just like that… The Vanquisher will squish ‘yer… I’ll do another clever rhyme some other time.

Eventually I have too much stuff to carry and have to come back up to the surface via magic teleporty scroll. There I find out that the town’s shops are all open for business. Including the town bard.

A robot bard is a lot easier to move around than a jukebox.

Why are all Trillbot 4000’s songs about me killing people?

Oh yeah, and there’s this pervert…

The unidentifed random item seller is a staple we can do without.

That’s disgusting! Those are clearly knock-off magic weapons!

Torchlight is a thriving town and has many tourist activities. Like fishing…

This is really boring in town but it gives you something to do in the dungeons while waiting for your pet.

Also known as the all-you-can-eat sushi buffet

But in reality splattering things in the mine is much more interesting. It’s also the best way to find important things like proper clothes and also eventually track down Syl’s friend Brink.

Some adventurer he turned out to be.

Oh sure thing Brink, I’m here to help.

Gotta feed the ferret.

Keep it down! You’ll frighten the fish!

I later get my comeuppance when a box tries to eat me.

It doesn't have hundreds of little legs.

This is some kind of irony or something, right?

I carry on into the dungeon… Um, mine… Looking for monsters to kill and loot to grab. Vanquishers, despite our role as professional monster slayers for the empire, are self-financing which means we have an incentive to kill evildoers and foul beasts. I’m sure the rampant murders of innocent people are just an accident.

Eventually we find Alric, some wizard guy who taught Syl magic or something. He’s apparently gone evil. Guess how I can tell…

Inevitable plot point number three hundred and seventy six.

Now killing him his justifiable! Muahahahaha!

After explaining to Syl that the only way to save Brink was to destroy him, I carry on down into the dank and dark… catacombs? Finally! They’re full of skeletons and zombies, of course.

Skeletons: You can't have an adventure without them.

It’s about time you lot showed up.

The thing about buried crypts is that they are a window into a bygone age, yet the undead within protect them from all but the most hardy adventurers. We bold and brave types who venture into the crypts to see what lies beneath are the only ones to…

Clearly the best person to send on a mission like this is a travelling merchant.

What is he doing here?

…get attacked by the monsters, apparently. Don’t get me wrong, it’s handy to be able to offload stuff in the dungeon since my ferret can’t possibly get upstairs and back in time for me to not get killed. I need all the furry, cute as a button help I can get down here. My one edge is that the hordes of undead are prime fodder for my ability to make shots pass through monsters, and bounce off walls into other enemies. Which I totally do on purpose. Every single time. Yes. In fact, it’s such a good ability I barely use anything else. This is partly because rifles are so overpowered it’s like I’m carrying a miniaturised howitzer.

Eventually I am attacked by three giant ghostly cat girls, which is a slight improvement over all the other undead.

A bit too heavy on the translucency there.

I’m just here for the evil wizard, okay?

Unfortunately they are evil wizard groupies and so I have to kill them. Re-kill them. Whatever. Then I meet the evil wizard they hang out with. His name is The Overseer; possibly a reference to his height, which lets him see over everyone else in the room.

And so ends the obligatory undead section.

Don’t look at me like that, it’s true.

After re-deadening the Overseer I travel deeper into the mountain and find some Estherian ruins. Syl says she has to open a teleporter with some runestones, which of course I have to go and get.

Jungley ruins buried underground makes no sense but I do not care.

It’s a very pretty environment and over too soon.

For once I don’t mind because it’s quite relaxing down here, with all the plants and water and psycho spear wielding pygmies. I assume these are goblin pygmies under the masks, or something like that, right? I don’t find it too bad when the hordes of spiders attack either, since I have machine-gun pyramid things…

Machinegun pyramids are the best pyramids.

I don’t actually have to do much actual work any more.

…and the ability to fire explosive shells.

Louder than it needs to be, too.

All style, little substance: Ricochet is still better.

It’s a pity that all the explosions and gunfire make my attempt to be a ninja useless.

Yes, it is a bit silly.

I can’t seem to sneak up on anyone at all!

After I’m done with the Estherian ruins I move on into some caves. These caves are… well… They’re quite cavernous. I don’t see how the mountain can stay up at all considering it’s mostly a hollow shell.

How does it even stay up?

This is ridiculous.

It looks kind of deserted. I guess there’s nothing much to worry about here.

Oh joy, skull totems.

Guess again!

Oh look it’s a pristine society of lizard people, hiding out down here in the mountain. Their culture has survived the harsh and cruel intrusion of the humans. Or at least, it had…

Getting kind of embarrassing.

Oooops. Sorry.

What I don’t understand is how these ledges have forcefields. I can’t run off the edge, and whenever I shake an armour stand or weapon rack (and don’t ask me how they got here) the stuff never falls off into the chasm.

Every damn time, nothing falls down.

This is also ridiculous.

Eventually I meet the giant rock monster that’s trying to smash the pillars holding the cavern up. Apparently the Tu’atra are okay with this for some reason. I guess rock monsters crushing their village under tons of mountain is better than me walking through it.

Um, okay, so his plan was to smash the mountain he's stuck under? Riiiight.

Um, okay, so his plan was to smash the mountain he’s stuck under? Riiiight.

After disposing of the golem or colossus or titan or something I travel deeper into the mountain only to find a sea of lava.

This is not going to be pleasant.

This is not going to be pleasant.

It wouldn’t be so bad except the only way through this ruined prison is over the most rickety bridges since the Rickety Bridge Company was forced to rebrand after the Grand Suspension Bridge Incident (definitely not a collapse and certainly not a disaster, according to their lawyers at least).

This is definitely not pleasant.

This is definitely not pleasant.

After trekking through the lava pits I’ve come to expect on every mission I kill a horde of goblins and a giant mutant goblin troll thing and then descend to the next floor. Oh, okay, this shouldn’t b too hard. It’s a Dwarf Fortress. Unfortunately, like all parallel universe Dwarves here got screwed by fate and are extinct. Unlike other universes they’re extinct but hanging around as wights.

Well undead dwarves are kind of original I suppose. Or at least, unusual.

Well undead dwarves are kind of original I suppose. Or at least, unusual.

But it’s not too bad. I mean, it’s not like they have walking mechanical battle platforms.

Oh right, they do have walking mechanical battle platforms!

Oh right, they do have walking mechanical battle platforms!

Eventually I find the magical Ember Forge and Syl turns up via portal to cure me of the magical corruption that had been threatening to turn me from ambiguously violent towards convenient targets to actually evil. Then she gets kidnapped by a corporeal catgirl and I have to save her from some kind of fortress of evil buried under the Dwarven ruins.

What a cheery staircase. I am definitely feeling optimistic about going down here!

What a cheery staircase. I am definitely feeling optimistic about going down here!

Unfortunately this evil fortress of evil has plenty of evil minons of evil who are, frankly, evil. There’s catgirls who summon ultra-skeletons, there’s catguys who are annoying jerks, and oh yeah: dragon people.

I did not sign up for this shit.

I did not sign up for this shit.

Thankfully I can always teleport to town and rest. Trillbot still has interesting and exciting quests for me to go on. He’s also asked me to come back with the heads of monsters.

What the hell do you mean "metaphorically"? Don't tell me I carried this thing all the way up here for nothing!

What the hell do you mean “metaphorically”? Don’t tell me I carried this thing all the way up here for nothing!

Robots are suppose to always be literal! I read it somewhere!

Back to the murder mines I go, killing all sorts of monsters and eventually I find Syl in some kind of not very exciting imprisonment. She tells me to go and kill Alric, which seems like a good idea. Apparently someone imprisoned below called Ordrak is responsible for corrupting all the ember in this mountain and turning everything who comes into contact with it evil. So I go find Aldric and shoot him a couple of times. He runs away and sacrifices himself to free Ordrak. Whatever. How bad can this be?

Pretty bad!

Pretty bad!

Fortunately for me, running around and throwing machinegun turrets everywhere saves my hide and I live to fight another day. I’ve saved the world from an angry monster and all his angry monster minions. Hmmm. What now? Hmmm, there’s some kind of crypt in the graveyard in the town… What’s that you say, non-evil catgirl?

Oh okay I can kill some more people. It is all I am good for, after all.

Oh okay I can kill some more people. It is all I am good for, after all.

Oh hey, there’s someone else here with a mission…

Oh for crying out loud.

Oh for crying out loud.

Conclusion

It’s pretty good on top of being just pretty. All the cartoony graphics and smashing enemies is great. The problem is, it’s just not polished enough with features to streamline the gameplay. Torchlight 2 covers that well, and sort of turns out to be better – but then it is the sequel. This game does have the problem of being unable to rebind the controls without editing the config file and using ascii to do it so um… that’s bad. Also, most of the skills seem redundant. But it’s still a good game, even with the clunky bits. But unlike some games (Fallout springs to mind, ugh why did we put up with that even back then?) it’s not unplayable in that regard: If it wasn’t good I’d not have kept going.

I think there’s something to be said for the fantasy steampunk setting. It’s kept relatively low-key in this game, with just a couple of robots and mechs, and some guns. If I have a complaint about the style it would be that there’s yet another lava level. Lava is tired and old now, and also everyone would die from the fumes and heat.

I do like the NPCs. Trillbot 4000 is my favourite character in the game, what with the demented insistence on being a bard and continual reassurances that he’s got the hard job what with the writing and singing and the terrors of the stage. He makes a comeback tour of sorts in the second game, too.

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