Sunday, November 01, 2009

Torchlight Is not For me

Lets face it, when it boils down to it every computer game is a pointless waste of time. Some games try to hide this fact with engaging story lines and complex game-play. Torchlight on the other hand celebrates its pointlessness and glorifies in it. It is the very incarnation of progress quest with added button pressing and better graphics. Meet monster, press button,  kill monster,  loot better gear, level up, meet tougher monster .... repeat. There are some embellishments involving pets, enchanting and gems but the essence remains unchanged. The game's quests and dungeons may be scripted but they just as easily be procedurally generated from what I have seen of the demo.

I know that a lot of people love this.   Wilhelm2451 and other bloggers whose opinions I respect are full of the game's praises but I still don't get it. I don't care if it follows in the illustrious foosteps of Diablo, Dungeon Siege, Titan Quest and its own direct antecedent Fate. I find the game boring.

There are times when we all can use a bit of mindless button mashing but I think that this market segment is very well covered by free to play flash games. To my mind both Sonny and Monsters Den have more depth than I have seen in Torchlight.

EDIT: On second reading my post above comes across more negatively than is warranted. For balance I should point out that Torchlight is very well made with a very well polished interface.The combat though repetitive is well done and the sounds in particular are very satisfying. The game is actually a lot of fun to play at first. Its just that I find this type of game play gets repetitive. Perhaps my biggest complaint is that it remains compulsive long after it has ceased being entertaining.


Cap'n John said...

I think where Diablo & D2 succeeded was in the story telling. You weren't just endlessly killing monsters, well you were, but you had an ongoing reason to do so. You weren't just descending to level 3 of the randomized dungeon to slay Random Boss #4274 to collect Random Stolen Item #8637. You were avenging the townsfolk, and with each Boss you killed a bit more of the story was revealed.

Instead of playing Torchlight I fired up Fate, bought a Fishing Rod & earned a small yet sizable stash of gold doing nothing but fishing. I then outfitted my adventurer in some more hardy items, descended into the dungeon, fought my way to level 3 and thought to myself, "Yeah, that's just about enough of this."

Maybe Torchlight has better graphics, bigger explosions, more blood, but it's still Fate.

mbp said...

Its been a while since I played FATE but the game mechanics of Torchlight are pretty much identical to what I remember. To be fair Torchlight does appear to have some kind of story. I have already endured a boss fight where I got a glimpse of an arch-enemy who disappeared and left me to fight his evil creation. I assume that you get to see more of him if you continue the game.

Tesh said...

I don't mind some mindless gaming here and there. It's almost a Zen thing. (Just like grinding mobs in WoW.) No, the part that I don't like is paying for the time to do it. I'll fire up Titan Quest now and then when I want to just go kill stuff, and it's fun for a while, but I don't have to pretend that it's the best use of my time, or pay for the privilege of wasting my time thusly.

I'd probably do the same "play for a while then do something else for a longer while" with Fate, too, if it didn't have that dang SecuROM thing.

Robert said...

I too enjoyed torchlight for a while.
Then I realized that there was no point to it.

There is no 'real' story at all, so no reason to keep playing to learn more about the story.

The quests are identical the entire way, so no need to keep playing to see what quests I'll find.

I was hoping to play other archetypes, such as a Fire wizard or Electricity wizard, but 75% of the skills seem to be copy-pasted between characters.
Plus in reality you only train one 'manual' skill and just use that all the time when attacking while you dump the rest of your points into passives.

With the same old town, never leaving it, you don't get a sense of the world at all. It just doesn't draw me in.

I'd just like to say to all of those reading this, that Titan's Quest is an amazing game and anyone who enjoyed Torchlight at the beginning and loved Diablo 1 and Diablo 2 back when they were out, should REALLY check out Titan's Quest.

mbp said...

Hello Robert, you make a very good point about skill selection. I only played up to level 7 in the demo but I did notice that despite the apparently large selection of skills available the right click to use a skill model means than you quickly fall back to using one skill all the time.

Online Casinos said...

I just came across this game through my friend who played this game before I left to travel. Well, to me it looks pretty interesting. If it's somehow similar to Diablo then it might be fun.

Wyldcard said...

I agree with many of your points made, the skill system does seem to boil down to "use these two skills for the entire game". Even so it is a good way to spend a few hours. I think the only thing that really iritated me was to say every game is a pointless waste of time. Why? I mean granted you only get enjoyment out of it, no final qualitative product is made. Can't the same be said of a great book? A walk up a mountain? Maybe thats a touch to dramatic but I hardly think doing something to be happy can be considered a "pointless waste of time".

mbp said...

Hi Wildcard. Re-reading the piece above I realise it is probably more negative than I intended. At the time I played the Demo a number of commentators were praising it to high heaven as a great new game from a smaller studio. I guess that meant I had false expectations of the game. I do think that what it does do it does very well - offering an enjoyable bout of casual entertainment for a few hours at a time. Since writing this piece (based only on the demo) I have actually gone ahead and bought the full game. I haven't actually progressed much beyond the demo content yet but I have it in the back of my mind as a way to while away a few hours dungeon crawling if ever I find myself at a loose end.