Torchlight is a fantasy point-and-click isometric dungeon crawler in exactly the same format that fans of this genre will undoubtedly have seen countless times before. But, despite being generically milquetoast at release and a bit dated in 2020, it’s still recommendable for a number of reasons, to both longtime IDC fans and those just looking for a simple introduction to the format.
Torchlight’s own take on the dungeon crawler formula is to avoid the dark and “mature” tone of the cult-classic Diablo and the pseudo-realistic take on mythology à la Titan Quest and instead opts for a young adult fantasy novel-esqe aesthetic as if Torchlight is simultaneously trying to be almost edgy yet remain grounded in a distinct cartoony artstyle.
The titular Torchlight is a backwater mining town built over the most recently discovered physical source of magic in this world, and uses the mines and natural caverns under the town as the setting the player must explore several dozen pre-determined levels of in order to resolve a really lacklustre plot complication, as clearly written by a programmed-centric development team that knew game mechanics are the thing here that really matters.
This aforementioned core focus on gameplay and interestingly diverse levels as you reach further into the deeper levels under the NPC merchant-filled homebase of the town is Torchlight’s strongest point. The game goes so far as to narrow its choice of class and skillset to just three entirely separate classes (ranged/DPS rogue, tanky melee warrior, or mob-summoning wizard), - without appearance customisation options no less, for better or worse. Regardless of whichever class you choose, you’ll be up against the same dungeon design and the same waves on enemies, although the whole thing does seem to fall on the forgiving side of the difficulty curve on even the hardest of the three difficulty options.
Everything mentioned so far is all well and good if you’re just looking for a generic isometric monster clicker, but, I would go as far as stating that the appeal in Torchlight now is the large modding scene it has attracted in the eleven years that have gone by since release. Runic Games has always incentivised modding in their game - going as far as including Steam Achievements for installing them. The simplicity of Torchlight belies a blank canvas for enterprising upstart wannabe-devs to create their own additions to the game (*cough* making excuses *cough*).
There is a whole world of custom content for this game, and the tools to make your own come part and parcel with the Steam version too! I can’t list any here, because of Valve’s trigger happy health-and-safety-gone-mad approach to removing links, but if only for the potential encompassed in the game’s engine-editing tools, I’d recomended it, especially if you happen to see it on sale.