Thursday, March 4, 2010

C'mon baby torchlight my fire - Torchlight retrospective

The second game I've completed (well as much as you can complete at least) this year was Torchlight.

For me, this game really came out of nowhere, but once I heard about it was was pretty excited. I was a massive Diablo 1 and 2 player, so naturally, a similar type of game by the same guys got my attention. I didn't mind the cartoony graphics... I know theres all the hoo-hah about Diablo 3's rainbow filled colour-scheme, but Torchlight's got a different mood about it. It's not the grim and gothic world Diablo inhabits. That said, I'm not saying Torchlight is all sunshine and lollypops, but it is a brighter more colourful place.

The graphics were definitely the first thing I noticed, but the next was just how much more streamlined and easier everything has become.  All the bits outside of the hacking and the slashing (or shooting and spelling if that's how you roll) have been simplified for the better. Inventory management isn't a juggling game anymore either, with objects only taking one space and a pet that can handle offloading your items. Aside from that, it keeps the Diablo tradition of grind-for-gear alive... always dropping tantalizing bits of armor or weapons to keep you going.

The combat itself is improved , at least in the ways enemies react to your hits. It definitely gives a feel impact watching those little monsters bounce around that was sorely missing from Diablo 1 and 2, although I guess that could be due to the limiting factor of sprites in those games. The only thing that did seem off to me was that the majority of Torchlight's action takes place in narrow corridors, which made spacing tactics tougher, although really thats a moot point considering there's no other play to work with. Maybe I'm just spoiled by Diablo 2 in that regard, but I remember Diablo 1 being a lot more spaced out too.

However, definitely the most limiting feature are the class sets. Diablo 2 was incredible in this respect, giving you enough skills and abilities to shape the original seven classes into distinct and viable subclasses of your own devise. Although I don't think Torchlight's three main classes are that limiting, the range of skills certainly is. It doesn't help either that many of the skills are available for all classes (and as generic as they are, tend to be the most use). That, and they don't really level up to any Godly type of limit. Sure, you can go back and try another build after, but its probably not going to be as effective as the generica-version you played through first as.

That being said, I did play through it once as the Vanquisher (Rogue/Assassin) and then most of the way through with the Destroyer (Warrior/Barbarian) although it was mainly to see how the inheriting system worked. When I realised that I hadn't really changed the way I was playing  (just doing it at a different distance) I got a little bored and decided to move on. The lack of variety between and within classes is what really killed it for me.

That being said, I did a lot of fun while playing it, and I'm glad/horrified that I've still got the grinding bug in me... But it's probably not a game I'd play again (unlike Diablo 1&2, which I'm considering reinstalling as I type). If there was multiplayer, I might've changed my mind, but with Torchlight supposedly a tester for a proposed MMO-version, we'll have to wait for that and see how I truly feel about it.

About the picture: I'm freakishly busy with work at the moment, so this ended up taking a little longer than I was expecting... Also, when I envisioned it in my head I had something a little less... well... detailed and coloured in mind. But then I started to like how it was turning out, so I decided to give it a little more time instead of rush it out. For those playing along at home, that's the Destroyer and Vanquisher classes... I briefly considered adding in the Alchemist class as well, but didn't because we all know magic users are a bunch of prissy bastards.

Also, I mentioned in the previous post I checking out a tutorial on colouring and wanted to give it a go... That tutorial was Jeph Jacques's (of webcomic Questionable Content) BPelt colour flatting tutorail. I did use it, but I didn't really think enough about what I needed to do to make it work properly as I was drawing (i.e. nice thick lines and no open spaces) so I had to do some trickery at the end to tidy it up a little. Totally worth it though... 

Bonus fact I find mind blowing for some unknown reason: "Barbarian" and "Assassin" are both spelt with the first three letters repeated twice.

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