Diablo Expansion Pack: Torchlight

08 November 2009

I just finished playing the Torchlight demo. From the moment the game begins, it is made abundantly clear that this is not just a game “in the grand tradition of Diablo” – the game is Diablo. The town, the vendors, the music, the random dungeons, the potions and scrolls: they’re all here.

If you’re looking for a Diablo expansion pack to keep you busy until Diablo 3‘s eventual belated release, Torchlight fits the bill. There are enough new monsters and abilities to keep any fan of Diablo interested, and the price is right at $20.

However, Torchlight is also contending with many other fine games, most of which have more unique and interesting mechanics. Torchlight copies Diablo literally to a fault. Only a handful of new mechanics appear, such as the Shared Stash (no more running 2 copies to trade loot with your mule) and the omnipresent Dog or Cat by your side. Most of the time the same problems and annoyances from Diablo lurk in Torchlight with no efforts at improvement. The gameplay shows signs of poor polish and QA – making it feel even more like a hurried 3rd-party expansion pack milking a quick buck out of the franchise.

The last boss of the demo drove these problems home hard enough to scare me away from the full game. I picked the mage-like Alchemist and started my way down the Lore skill tree. The first tier of abilities have you raising minions from the corpses of dead foes. When I got to the boss though, there were no corpses in the level to raise my minions from. This left me going toe-to-toe with the level’s boss using only my wand.

Ironically, the wand was my most powerful weapon – doing 30-50 damage, where my only magic spell did 6 damage. I had to kite the boss around the room, only stopping to attack when range and line-of-sight allowed. Being a mage without any useful spells made me wonder if they spent any time tuning to ensure all 3 characters and 9 skill trees played sensibly through the early levels of the game.

After this long and clunky ring-around-the-rosy fight, I finally defeated the boss. An NPC appeared for a cut scene, said one line, and then proceeded to wander around the dungeon aimlessly. I can only guess her pathing broke. With the keyboard locked out entirely for this never-ending cut scene, I had to End Task the game process. I didn’t bother starting it back up.

The Tochlight demo left a bad taste in my mouth culminating in that glaring bug. I won’t be buying Torchlight myself, but I can certainly see the appeal of playing Diablo for a few more levels.

This entry was posted on 08 November 2009 and is filed under Games.

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