A few months back, Blizzard mentioned that there were looking for console developers for "Diablo 3." When reached for further comment, Blizzard reps clarified that this was not the official confirmation that the game would be coming to consoles, and that they were just having an "investigation" into whether the series would work on 360 or PS3. Lucky for Blizzard, Runic Games seems to have done all the investigation for them, as the XBLA version of "Torchlight" clearly proves that a top-down, loot-heavy, hack-and-slash RPG can work wonders on consoles.
Designed by former members of the "Diablo" team, "Torchlight" is a hack-and-slash RPG which places you in the role of a heroic adventurer, questing into the depths below a town called Torchlight. The game features 3 playable classes, each with their own skill trees and custom abilities. Loot is the driving force behind the game, with thousands of possible pick-ups, including rare, unique and set pieces.
The XBLA version of "Torchlight" offers the same exact content as the PC and Mac version (with a few new tidbits here and there), but the controls and interface have been heavily modified to work with a controller.
Better On Console
As a fan of the PC version of "Torchlight," I didn't expect too much from the console release. As it turns out, thanks to the UI and control improvements, I'd much rather be playing it on console. The game feels much quicker and more direct, as players control their hero with the left analog while using the face buttons and triggers for all major actions. This more direct sense of control (as opposed to repeatedly clicking for all actions) makes "Torchlight" feel like an action game, while retaining its RPG roots.
An Impressive Inventory
RPGs on consoles often suffer from overly cumbersome inventory systems, especially when they are heavily loot-centric. The only game that has really managed to pull off a solid inventory system for managing tons of loot is "Borderlands," and yet "Torchlight" manages to trump that system by being just as intuitive while being way more versatile. Unloading unwanted loot upon your pet or merchant is just one button-press away, and you can scroll through all three by hitting the bumpers. As with the reworked controls, the inventory system only keeps things moving quicker.
I think newcomers who aren't aware that "Torchlight" is a port will be surprised to learn that the game doesn't support co-op of any kind. It makes sense, given that adding co-op would've required a complete reworking of the game's code and would've undoubtedly pushed the price well beyond $15, but the lack of it is still a bummer. Asynchronous co-op (like item trading) would've been nice, but sadly, no go. You can, however, trade items among your different characters via a shared stash.
Putting The D-Pad To Good Use
As much as I love the controls in "Torchlight" on XBLA, I have one element to nit-pick. Up and down on the d-pad allows you to switch between two sets of assigned spells. It's a much-needed feature, as it lets you assign up to 8 spells on the controller instead of just four. But wait, the d-pad has four directions! Why not just assign those secondary spells to the different directions rather than have to worry about changing all of your hotkeys? I often found that I wouldn't change my spell set as it added an extra step of complexity during battle, and assigning spells to the d-pad directions would've been an easy fix.
For "Diablo" fans, "Torchlight" is an easy recommendation to make. It's a spot-on recreation of the "Diablo" gameplay, albeit on console with smooth, intuitive controls. If you're already a "Torchlight" veteran, know that you're basically getting the same game that was on the PC and Mac, but playing through with one of the other classes is reason enough to pick this one up. For everyone else, this is easily the best RPG to be found on XBLA and should be gobbled up as such.