The goal isn’t to turn this site into all other-RPGs, all the time, but Bashiok’s not been seen in the B.net forums in ages, and even Blizzard’s @Diablo Twitter feed has been quiet since last week. We will have a new On the Drawing Board for you guys to kick around tomorrow, at least.

    That said… Torchlight is now available for download, as our new, subtle banner ads might have reminded you, and some reviews are popping up. The first one is from The Escapist, and it’s quite positive. A couple of quotes:

    I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first loaded up Torchlight – everything I’d seen of the game had shouted “Diablo clone!” at me through a megaphone, but who’s to judge a book by its cover? As it turns out, sometimes the cover can actually be pretty accurate: Torchlight is a Diablo clone in the most literal senses of the word. From the game’s three classes, to its combat mechanics and Town Portal Scrolls, to its socketed items and even its music, it was obvious where the game’s influences were coming from.

    Considering that it was made by a bunch of former Blizzard North members who worked on Diablo and Diablo II, though? Torchlight might be a Diablo clone, but it’s a damn good one.

    Bottom Line: Torchlight absolutely nails the formula that made Diablo so addictive. The combat feels satisfying, your pet companion is a welcome addition to the genre, and there are plenty of randomized dungeons to explore in the search of the rarest treasure there is. It might not have the depth (or variety of content) of a larger game, but $20 is more than a fair price – and it’ll help soothe your twitchy index finger that longs for adventure, with Diablo III so far away. It’s addictive and superbly well-made, and well worth the price.

    Recommendation: $20 is a steal for this game. Get it.

    There’s also an informative non-review on VentureBeat.com

    Amazingly, Runic built its original hack-and-slash action game in less than a year, using open-source game tools, known as Ogre3D. The team?s programmers knew they could save a lot of time by using the open-source engine, which allowed most of the team to focus on creating the game rather than inventing new tools. That saved as much as six months, which was critical in building a ?AAA light? game. Schaefer said the team aspired to create as high quality a game as it could, given the more limited budget and time window.

    The game has an interesting plot. The mining town of Torchlight is built around a mine that has yielded a unique substance dubbed ?ember,? which gives people energy. But monsters are coming out of the mine, which appears to be tapping into the remnants of an ancient civilization. And it turns out the ember has a corrupting influence. As in games such as Diablo, the perspective is a top down view of a character who has larger-than-life proportions.

    Plenty of our forum readers have already checked out TL, either via the demo or the full game, and our huge TL forum thread has some hands on reports. Click to the last page for player reviews.

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