Torchlight is a small mining town that has an issue with monsters, corrupted Ember and well, some fellow named Alric. You may be familiar with the scenario if you picked up Runic Games' maiden effort on PC, but now finally we get to see the lovely gem of an action-RPG on Xbox Live Arcade.
There are three classes to choose from as you start the game, but it should be noted that they are all fairly flexible in that they can use various weapons and you will freely choose how you decide to distribute attribute points and skill points. The skill points in particular allow you to customise the class of your character in a simple and accessible manner. Overall, the whole system for character progression and levelling up comes across as extremely solid and well thought out. You also get to choose a pet, I went with the dog, and you will be able to equip your pet with spells and transform him into various monsters using fish, something that can come in quite handy at times. Your pet also works as a spare loot bag, which is always nice as the dungeons are full of good stuff you may want to pick up to either use yourself or sell.
There is a story that runs through Torchlight, a story that never really imposes itself as it provides a few laughs along the way as you delve deeper towards the corruption that threatens the town and perhaps the entire world. But rather than an epic and memorable storyline with lots of cutscenes, that most everyone would ignore as they chase down loot and level up, Runic Games have opted to put an effort into making the environments, characters and atmosphere enjoyable. You will pick up little side quests in town in between story missions, and these encounters provide you with some background and a laugh every now and then.
The controls have been tailored to fit the Xbox 360 controller and you map four special attacks onto four buttons (triggers and two face buttons), while one face button is dedicated to picking up loot and interacting with various levers and one is dedicated to your normal attack. You can zoom in and out with your right stick, although to be honest I don't see why anyone would want to play this any other way than zoomed out as much as possible. It should however be noted that when you zoom in you will see that Torchlight sports some beautiful design, reminiscent of what you might expect from a Blizzard title, and the graphics are up there with the best Xbox Live Arcade has to offer.
But while you can zoom in and out there is no option to rotate the camera. While there is no real need for it, I feel more comfortable playing a game like this when I can rotate the camera. You will be able to see enemies through the walls if they obstruct your view, but this is more of a comfort issue than a real gameplay issue.
There is one major problem with Torchlight that I cannot shy away from. Whenever I pick up a rare or unique piece of loot I want to flaunt it. I want to show it off to someone who goes "I gots to have it!". There is no co-operative play in Torchlight and while the game is entirely designed for a single player experience (everything from level design to the way the classes work), it still leaves with a feeling of "what if?". What if I could have experienced this with one, two or even three friends? It would have be awesome, deliciously awesome.
But I'm still enjoying Torchlight tremendously. The beautiful design of the environments where I really love how you can sometimes see floors beneath you with enemies is perhaps the best ever seen in the genre. The wonderful system for items that allows you to socket pieces of ember, enchant items for added benefits, combine pieces of ember and more is blissful. The addictive combat and the various enemies who come at you in huge numbers is solid throughout. There is the occasional stutter in the framerate as you encounter some of the bigger packs of enemies (or loot droppers as I like to call them), but nothing that ruins the experience. Torchlight is a game any and all fans of the genre should pick up, whether it be as a downloadable on PC or on Xbox Live Arcade.