Genre: Hack and Slash / Action RPG
Year: 2009
Developed by: Runic Games
Published by: Runic Games
Platforms: PC, Mac
Feeling Like: Shedding some light

Henry’s Brain: Penny for your thoughts?

Henry: I was about to ask you the same thing!

Henry’s Brain: I know, thought I’d start us off for once.

Henry: Right, of course. I think I’m managing. The pandemic is still ongoing and permeates every waking moment, but we’re extremely lucky; no family members have gotten sick and Kyla and I have been able to work from home the entire time.

Henry’s Brain: I know you’ve been feeling guilty about not getting more of the 500 done.

Henry: A bit, yeah. It’s hard not to. I have all the time in the world, and I’ve fallen drastically behind my one-entry-per week target. Even if I keep up with that pace, I won’t finish the list for another 5 years, at least.

Henry’s Brain: That may seem daunting, but there’s no deadline. You’re not beholden to anybody, this is just for fun, remember?

Henry: I guess.

Henry’s Brain: And you’re almost halfway! You’ve completed 235 entries, that’s nothing to shake a stick at.

Henry: Yeah, that’s true! And I do enjoy going back to read older posts to see how my writing has evolved, or recall my thoughts on some obscure game from 20+ years ago.

Henry’s Brain: There you go! So there’s only one thing to do.

Henry: Keep pestering you with my unwarranted insecurities?

Henry’s Brain: You’ll keep doing that no matter what. But in the meantime, let’s talk about Torchlight.

Henry: My first reaction is a positive one. Torchlight scratched the Diablo-esque itch I always seem to get every couple of years. It’s unsurprising that the team behind it were Blizzard veterans; the same lure is there. The unobtrusive HUD and user interface is there. The colorful world and endless monsters are there. It seems all parties invited RSVP’ed.

Henry’s Brain: I remember how much you enjoyed the style of character you picked.

Henry: That was a highlight, and something that I missed out on in Diablo 3. Historically, I’ve always gone as a knight or a melee character; in other words, the most boring archetype available. Eventually, repetition got to me and I branched out. I’m glad I did – my guy in Torchlight was a dream to play. I focused entirely on summons, familiars, pets and any other little minion of destruction I could throw at my enemies. Taking pot shots from behind a line of offensive lineman made me feel like a fantastical Tom Brady and I loved every minute of it.

Henry’s Brain: How cool was the pet system?

Henry: Extremely, I’m shocked other games of this genre don’t copy it outright. Everybody loves a loyal dog or cat fighting by your side, but the idea that you could load your companion up with items, send them back to town to sell said items and come back in a short time frame was sublime. I could extend my run, I didn’t have to worry about being over burdened with loot and it increased my affinity for Black Shadow (named after my childhood pet, doesn’t everybody do this?)

Henry’s Brain: I found the main town/hub to be a thoroughly relaxing respite from the action.

Henry: I mean, that’s critical to the core gameplay loop, isn’t it? The original Diablo really was revolutionary in this capacity. Start in town. Get the lay of the land, and pointers from the helpful townspeople. Listen to the calming music. Prep for your adventure. Nobody else to talk to? Geared up? Head out, bucko. Come back any time.

Henry’s Brain: The only time things got a little dicey with the visuals is when the screen is covered with enemies and it was difficult to see your mouse. Otherwise, super endearing.

Henry: Hell yes. Even in the year 2021, I still have a longing for stylistic, cartoonish graphics. Especially in a game like this – the charming style doesn’t warrant photo realistic graphics. It’s a light hearted adventure, why venture beyond that in the looks department?

Henry’s Brain: I’m getting tempted to boot up a new game right now.

Henry: And I’m guaranteeing we’d both have a great time. Trying to find specific matching sets of gear to get a matching bonus was addicting. I had to carefully choose which armor and accessories I was going to keep. Should I prioritize my own strength, or my adorable army of death? A mix of both? There’s no time for pondering all this in the heat of the action, but Torchlight gives you plenty of breaks to let everything sink in. It’s an action game to be sure, but it’s not mentally taxing beyond a few quick heals or summons during the heat of battle.

Henry’s Brain: Anything else before we wrap up?

Henry: Nothing else comes to mind. This entry will be much like Torchlight itself, short but sweet. It was pleasant, easy to pick up and never overstayed its welcome. I hope the upcoming Diablo 4 will allow me a similar playstyle, the monk in Diablo 3 didn’t set my world on fire.

Henry’s Brain: I’ll be sure to remind you to keep an ear out for any news. With the pandemic, it’s likely that a lot of major releases will get delayed. Be patient!

Henry: I will be, thanks Brain. Hey, if I can’t think of anything else to play, there’s always Torchlight!

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