Full disclosure: If a game is released on multiple systems, I always buy it for the PC. I played Torchlight extensively on the PC. I loved Torchlight on the PC. And I was a little jealous (OK, fine…and angry) when I heard it was going to be released on XBLA. How could it possibly be any good? How will Runic adopt the spell bar to fit a controller? And did I mention how could it possibly be any good?
Torchlight on XBLA, what can I say? It is still a glorious romp through level upon level of skill assignin’, spell-castin’, hack ‘n slashin’, loot winnin’, gun totin’, sword wieldin’, boss battlin’ ecstasy.
For those of you who don’t know, Torchlight is the PC dungeon crawling phenomenon. Think of a more light-hearted Diablo. You play as a champion, arriving to rescue the town of Torchlight from the mysterious powers of Evil caused by the corruptive powers of Ember. The workers of Torchlight have mined deep beneath the town and unleashed a villain trapped there long ago. You are called to help release the town from the grips of this Evil and the corrupting powers of Ember influence. To accomplish this task, you battle deeper and deeper into the randomly-generated levels in the mine.
There are three classes – the Vanquisher (rogue), the Alchemist (mage), and the Destroyer (warrior). As your character levels, there are three skill trees in which you can assign points to earn new spells or buff abilities.
Each character also has a companion animal (dog, cat, or dragon) to choose that not only helps you fight the myriad of beasts you encounter, but also acts as a pack-mule of sorts. Your pet has a bag and can be sent back to town to sell the loot you pick up as you run out of space in your inventory. And, oh, is there loot. Going down to the mine to vanquish some evil? Expect loot. Found a random dungeon map that will spawn another dungeon full of rare items? More loot. Talk to an NPC about doing a special dungeon-running quest? Loot from the special dungeon AND loot for the quest. You will be sending your dog (no cats here!) back to town and using the inventory chests so graciously provided by the developers to the fullest extent.
As this game has been available for the PC since late 2009, bugs and glitches are few. Once in awhile my pet would have pathfinding trouble on the way back from a loot-selling run to the surface. This issue was easily cleared up by going to the room the dog was stuck in, or by using a town portal scroll and then quickly porting back to same spot in the dungeon again.
So that’s Torchlight, the game, but how well does it translate to a console? The answer is extremely well. Runic completely redesigned the interface for use with a controller. Once I learned how the menus and spell bindings worked, it seemed like Torchlight was never meant for anything BUT a console. Spells are manually bound to the left and right trigger, Y button, and B button; up to two spells each. To switch between spell sets you press up or down on the D-pad. Health and mana potions are bound to the left and right bumpers, respectively.
Torchlight will be available on XBLA on March 9th for 1200 Microsoft Points ($15.00). If you even think you like dungeon crawlers, buy it. It will be the best $15.00 you’ll ever spend.