Please note that, like always, you can click on the screenshots for bigger versions.

I originally intended to finish playing Torchlight in time for the release of Torchlight 2. Then I injured my wrist, and since Torchlight is a 2-handed game, I had to take a break and play other things. Now, I’ve gone back and finally finished it.

Before I start, a little history: I’ve written many posts on roguelikes, and several more on roguelike-likes, games that borrow design elements from roguelikes and fuse them into other gameplay styles. But the most famous roguelike-like was Blizzard’s 1996 game Diablo. Diablo took the dungeon-crawl premise of most roguelikes — complete with procedurally generated floors, hordes of enemies to fight, and heaps of randomized loot to find — and fused it with a fast-paced real-time combat system. While Diablo did not feature perma-death like most roguelikes, where dying meant starting the whole game over, it did offer serious consequences for failure: there was no manual save system, with the game instead saving automatically when quitting, so it was never possible to reload an old game to reverse a mistake. Dying meant respawning in town without any of your stuff, and having to make a dangerous run to your corpse to recover it. This kept the tense feel of a roguelike without punishing the player too harshly for not having clicked on an enemy quickly enough. [EDIT: Diablo II did feature an optional “hardcore” mode with permadeath — thanks to jefequeso for pointing this out.]

Diablo was an instant hit, spawning its own genre known as the action role-playing game (abbreviated to action-RPG or ARPG). Today, nearly all role-playing games are called action-RPGs because they tend to feature real-time combat systems that play out similarly to action games, but back in 1996 the term applied exclusively to Diablo clones. And there were many, although none managed to unseat the Diablo series as the leader of the genre. Torchlight is a more recent Diablo clone, and has the distinction of being developed by some of the same people who worked on Diablo and Diablo II. While I enjoyed the Diablo games (mostly having played the second), I was never that interested in their dark, demon-filled world. Torchlight’s colorful locales were much more enticing.