Torchlight takes its inspiration from the classic Diablo, which is no surprise as its developer, Runic Games, is mostly made up of ex-Blizzard employees. The game represents a peculiar sub-genre of role-playing games where, instead of long, drawn-out quests and a huge world to explore, you get randomly-generated maps and a minimum of plot, but far more non-stop action, a huge variety of loot to pilfer, and hordes of monsters to overcome.
There are still the barebones of a role-playing game underneath, so you also get a full character levelling system. You start the game by choosing one of three classes - fighter, mage or archer - and then as you level up you choose where to spend your skill points. Skills are split into trees, so taking some skills will open up more advanced skills later on.
As well as your character's abilities, the game provides you with tons of items and equipment that drop from the monsters you slay. This can range from basic weapons to magical items that improve your character's abilities. Set items are especially valuable, as wearing more than one piece of a set of armour, for example, can add additional bonuses.
With the non-stop slaughter comes a non-stop supply of loot. To avoid returning to town every five minutes to drop off your plunder, you get a pet, which not only fights by your side but can also carry items for you and take them back to town to sell them.
The plot, for what it's worth, generally involves you exploring deeper and deeper into the mines of Ember, but there are side quests you can access from characters in town.
When you die, you have a choice of resurrecting immediately, but losing experience points and gold; resurrecting at the entrance to the dungeon you're in, and losing gold; or resurrecting in town and losing nothing - except your progress.
Torchlight is unashamedly a homage to Diablo, even down to the atmospheric music, and it's great fun to play. Ultimately, it falls short of the original: it captures the mechanics of the Diablo, but it hasn't captured the spirit.
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