A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Torchlight is a downloadable role playing game (RPG) that has players fighting trolls and spiders and other fantasy creatures with swords and magic. There is some blood, but it’s seen from a distance, isn’t particularly realistic, and disappears quickly. The focus isn’t just combat, but also exploration and loot collection, with players meant to derive satisfaction from the discovery of various weapons, spells, and articles of equipment that they can either use or sell.
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What's it about?
TORCHLIGHT is an action role-playing game that sees players delving ever deeper into a cavernous dungeon filled with all manner of fantastical creatures, from big bugs to growling trolls. After choosing one of three character archetypes -- a big, strong melee fighter, a woman skilled at fighting from range, and a young spell-caster -- players chat with non-player characters who inhabit the mining town of Torchlight, which was built over a rich vein of a valuable but dangerous material called ember, to acquire missions and objectives that provide reason to journey into the dungeon. As the game progresses players earn experience used to level up their characters and find loot -- equipment, items, weapons -- which they can keep or sell. Players also have a pet companion who travels and fights with them while providing additional inventory slots for item storage.
Is it any good?
Torchlight is brilliantly habit-forming in its accessibility, simplicity, and ability to satisfy people’s natural urge to explore, discover, and collect. Beautifully designed dungeons help make players’ travels through the mine a pleasure, while one-click combat mechanics provide for speedy, satisfying battles. Plus, a clean and simple inventory system makes it easy to manage all of the goodies you collect. Players can even send their pets back to town to sell excess items for them, allowing them to continue exploring without leaving the dungeon to visit vendors every few minutes or dropping valuable loot for lack of space.
If Torchlight has one weak spot, it’s a lack of compelling characters and interesting dialogue. Our heroes have little in the way of personality, and the same can be said of most of the people they meet. It’s a minor qualm for a game like this, but a stronger narrative would have made this great little budget dungeon crawler even better. Perhaps it will come in the highly anticipated Torchlight 2.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games. Torchlight presents a cartoonish world filled with monsters that bleed when struck. For what age is this sort of action appropriate? What would you think if the graphics were more realistic?
Families can also discuss collecting. Games like this one tap into our interest in discovering, evaluating, and determining whether to keep things. Is this something you enjoy doing? What sort of collections do you have?
For kids who love playing in make-believe lands
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