The developer of the Torchlight series is Seattle-based Runic Games, which was co-founded by the Schaefer brothers Max and Erich who worked on Diablo I and II. After leaving Blizzard (North) in 2003 due to tension regarding the development of Diablo III the brothers alongside Travis Baldree (Fate) and others created Flagship Studios; where a similar Diablo-esque dungeon crawler was created—Mythos. Eventually, financial troubles led Flagship Studios to remain docked indefinitely. It was here that the Schaefer brothers and the entire Mythos team sought to create Runic Games and what would be Torchlight I.
Torchlight is an action RPG that utilizes the overhead perspective for players as they search through randomly generated dungeons looking for better loot and harder enemies. The game’s controls are homogenous to Diablo’s point-and-click mechanic, giving the player total mobility and attack precision with the click of a mouse, while the player’s abilities are used from the keyboard. The downside to Torchlight was its lack of multiplayer; as a result its overall score by reviews slightly dropped.
Torchlight II has multiplayer functionality and introduces four new classes: The Engineer specializing in heavy weapon combat, the Outlander uses ranged weapons, the Berserker is distinct for using quick and animal-themed special moves, and finally the Embermage—a highly trained Elemental spell-caster. All four classes have particular skills that can be trained using a Skill Tree system to benefit the player as they see fit. With a strong development team that has experience in the action-RPG genre it is apparent that Torchlight II is going to be a great game. Check out the video below showing off the Embermage’s abilities and spells. Expect Torchlight II to launch this summer on PC for $20.00 and XBLA.
Since Diablo III just launched, Torchlight’s success appears to be slim, but with members from the team that designed the first two Diablos, I would not give up entirely on Runic Games. Perhaps Torchlight II will bring back the nostalgia the previous Diablos had that many fans missed out with Blizzard’s latest release.