GDC 11: Torchlight Hands-on

Beloved PC dungeon-crawler Torchlight is making its way to Xbox, and Microsoft was showing off the downloadable port right by the main entrance to GDC’s main hall.

Despite this prime location, Torchlight seemed oddly overlooked, perhaps because of people’s natural distrust of action-RPG’s on consoles. Their skepticism, I’m happy to report, was entirely unwarranted. The game was undiminished, and in fact improved in some ways, by the translation.

The core gameplay remained unchanged. Four abilities were mapped to face buttons and triggers, and another set of four were immediately available at the push of the D-pad. In a masterstroke of game design, potions have been almost fully automated — simply press RB or LB, and the game will quaff  the most powerful health or mana potion available.

Inventory and ability management has been wrangled by an attractive and easy-to-read three-column system. Moreover, some changes made for the console port were so effective that the Runic devs incorporated them in to the forthcoming Torchlight II, and some animations from that hotly-anticipated sequel snuck their way into the downloadable version of the original.

If my waxing rhapsodic makes you skeptical, don’t take my word for it. All the changes to the game are visible in action and described in detail in the three videos below.

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