Torchlight Preview

There quite possibly isn’t a gamer in the world that doesn’t know Diablo. In case you haven’t, Diablo is a hack and slash game developed by Blizzard North. But there is one thing you might have noticed – Diablo was created by Blizzard North. Blizzard North are a separate development studio. Before Blizzard acquired them, they were known as Condor. In 2003, the core people of Blizzard North decided it’s time they were taken seriously. So they left Blizzard and then formed Flagship Studios. Their debut game, Hellgate: London, proved to be their curse. The studio was dissolved in 2008, a few months after releasing the game. But Flagship didn’t feel like going down. At least not all of them. So they sat down and formed a new studio – Runic Games. Unlike their previous project, the new formed studio didn’t want to revolutionize gaming. Runic Games took a simple, open source engine, collected a few members and started working on their first project immediately. The game is nearly done(the release date is set for 27 Octomber) and is awaiting it’s release.

Torchlight is a hack and slash role playing game. As i said, Runic Games aren’t aiming at revolutionizing gaming. The first thing to be noted about Torchlight is the fact that Runic Games are releasing a single player as well as a multiplayer version of the game. While the singleplayer will be a classical hack ‘n slash adventure, the multiplayer version of the game will use MMORPG mechanics. The singleplayer version will be released first. Those of you looking to play online will have to wait a while. To make up for this, Runic Games promise us that the MMORPG version of the game will be free to play.

The world of Torchlight is the classical high-fantasy setting – all your favorite fantasy creatures will be present. The players will be presented with three playable classes – Destroyer, Alchemist and Vanquisher. Those are just renamed versions of the classical Warrior, Mage and Rogue. No matter what class you choose, you will have the option of taking a pet companion with you for the travels. The starting pets you have will be the typical Dog and Cat. Later on you have the option of morphing them into different fantasy creatures. This will be done with the help of a fishing mini-game. Each fish will transform your pet into a different creature. Sounds a lot like Fate, doesn’t it? Well, the game is being developed by the core people behind Fate. Each pet form will have different abilities. The spider form, for example can spit poison and wrap around the enemies in a web, stunning them.

What Runic Games are proud by the most is the level design of Torchlight. There are seven different tilesets for your viewing pleasure. Unlike other hack and slash games, the levels in Torchlight will be completely random. The biggest downside of random levels is that, when the levels are randomized they lack the personalization and depth of the ones mapped by hand. Runic Games want to change that and promise us they will. Of course, not all levels will be random but a majority will be.

The lore of Torchlight isn’t something original or stunning, but fits the style perfectly. The world of Ember is filled with imagination and the key encampment, the town of Torchlight seems to be very well structured. A large portion of the game will be the dungeon levels that include sunken mines, crypts and ruins. The mines will play a great role as a giant part of the game’s story is about how the miners borrowed deep and greedily, but they discovered that the mines were filled with long forgotten creatures and civilizations. The town of Torchlight itself is a mining settlement.

What must be noted about Torchlight is that the game is made very friendly towards casual users and hardcore players will most likely find it too easy. Everything from the interface to the pet system is made as easy as possible. We’re getting close to the end of this article but i still want to share a few things. Unlike most hack and slash games, players can customize their characters. There is also a retirement system for when you reach a high level you can retire your previous character and bring your new one a set of bonuses. Runic Games also promise us the game will be easy to mod, coming included to a great editor and the engine itself is open source.

The game’s artstyle is very controversial.  Everything is set in a cartoony style that casual players will find easy to comprehend. But that doesn’t mean the game looks bad. On the contrary – it looks great even with its groovy style. There is another reason why Runic went with this style – for performance. They want to make the game as accessible as possible and people will be able to run it even on netbook computers. Another great thing is how easy it is to create models for the game that look as good as the original. On the other side – gamers that got used with serious looking fantasy games will probably barf the first time they start the game.


Torchlight looks like a great role playing experience for everyone. Even if your not much into role playing games you’ll find how fun the game is. But i must warn you, if you’re looking for a super-advanced and hardcore role playing game, stay away from this one. At a debut price of 20$, Torchlight is a must have, for me at least. The release date of the single-player version is set for 27 October and the multi-player version will be released in about a year.

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  1. Ah, just what we need — a soap opera in the middle of the game world, but then all life is a soap opera anyway. I might tackle the single player version of this, but I’m not sure. I do applaud their tenacity at staying afloat in spite of the odds.

  2. Nice little introduction article, but there is a small mistake (or misnomer perhaps?). The team that founded Runic is the Seattle Team from Flagship, the ones who worked on the unreleased Mythos, and not Hellgate London. As far as I know the only one who is at Runic now that worked on Hellgate is Erich Schaefer (his brother Max oversaw Mythos). The Flagship Seattle Team was about half former Diablo/Diablo II people and half people who worked on Fate, and now as Runic Games they have some new people, as well as some old friends like Matt Uelmen (composer for the Diablo games).

    In other words, the Runic Games team didn’t have anything to do with Hellgate London or the fall of Flagship Studios. They were the side project.

  3. Most randomly-generated maps aren’t all that great, but Blizzard’s Diablo was completely randomly generated (save for a few spare locations) as was the sequel. It does have one edge though, if it’s totally random, then it means a dungeon can be either easygoing or “Aw crap not again…”.

    Some games could’ve been improved by randomly-generated dungeons. Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance for the PS2 being an example. It’s a decent game but it gets boring after a few playthroughs.

  4. I don’t know what anyone else thinks but i’m rather looking forward to playing this 😛 It does look like a good game, IMO, and something I could waste away a few hours on 😀

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