The Fate of Torchlight

fateLike many of you, I’ve been gorging a bit on Torchlight, and feel absurdly pleased as to what it accomplishes — it looks great, runs even better, and is a delightful mindless Dialbo-esque experience.  Since several of my peers have jawed about this at length, I’m going to leave my review as “great game, can’t go wrong buying it”.

But there is something that bothers me while playing it, and although it might seem petty to bring it up, up it shall come.  I knew that Travis Baldree was head of Torchlight’s dev team, a guy who also headed up Mythos and Fate.  This being his third action-RPG, it’d be logical to assume that he’s going to stick with what works and not throw everything out the window just because it’s a new game.

However, I didn’t realize before playing Torchlight just how much Baldree and company borrowed from Fate.  It doesn’t just use some of Fate’s same concepts, it is Fate.  As in, the same exact game from 2005, ported to 2009 and updated with new artwork and new skill trees.

I really thought I was going mad, because the Torchlight experience is, beat for beat, the same that I had back when I paid $20 for Fate.  Now, don’t get me wrong — Fate was a great game.  A terrific game, even.  But I didn’t really want to buy the same exact game twice.

Running down Torchlight’s features and then cross-comparing them to Fate’s, it’s like a severe case of déjà vu:

  • Randomized dungeon levels
  • A pet — dog or cat — that holds an inventory, fights with you, and runs back to town to sell your stuff
  • Your pet can be transformed via feeding it fish
  • Fishing
  • A Fame meter
  • The death penalty — you can choose between a hefty penalty to be rezzed on the spot, a lighter penalty to be rezzed at the start of the level, or no penalty to be rezzed in town
  • You can retire your character and pass down perks, bonuses and an item to your next character
  • Standard Diablo concepts – isometric, socketed items, level up grats you attribute and skill points, fetch/kill quests given by the town you start in

Again, it doesn’t make this a bad game.  Just a carbon copy.  And that, to me, is disappointing; I was really hoping that Torchlight was going to advance the Fate/Mythos formula, but instead it remains firmly rooted in the past, albeit with enough polish to envy any brass maker.

28 thoughts on “The Fate of Torchlight

  1. It seems odd that so many people would rave about Torchlight when Fate never received the same amount of attention back in its day.

    Then again, Torchlight did tweak some of the issues that Fate had. The camera angle is wider, the art style and sound/visual effects are AMAZING, and the pacing is a lot better.

  2. Never played Fate, but I did play a good amount of Mythos, is Torchlight just off-line Mythos? It sure sounds/looks like it from what I’ve heard/seen.

  3. I think Torchlight is far more like Fate than Mythos, although Mythos certainly shares a lot of traits of the other two. There’s some similarities, sure, although less over-the-world roaming and a much more simplified skill tree.

  4. I had the feeling that this game was basically Fate. I don’t remember the spells-and-skill system being in Fate, but everything else is eerily similar. It doesn’t disappoint me much, though, because I haven’t played Fate in a LONG time.

  5. @mhp
    If you thought Fate was okay but the presentation was meh, give Torchlight a shot (they even have a demo). It’s won me over 🙂

    @eviazaer
    Fate didn’t have a skill system, just a bunch of spells divided into three general categories (similar to, if not exactly, like the categories in Torchlight). Your character was classless, which for some reason didn’t settle well with me.

  6. I’ve never played Fate (never heard of it prior to all the talk about Torchlight, actually), so I cannot compare it to that. What I can compare it to is Diablo, and for me it is also a carbon copy. Or maybe a scanned and digitally improved image with different colors would be a better metaphor.

    The graphics are drastically different and both have their merits, but everything I loved about Diablo is there (including the soundtrack; Diablo 2 has my absolute favorite game soundtrack of all time by Matt Uelmen, who also scored Torchlight), and everything I didn’t like is changed or improved, like the whole “let’s play Tetris to fit items on the inventory” mini-game and the item-selling dog, which is amazing.

    So yeah, it’s not an original game by any standard, but it’s just such a flawless execution that I find it very hard to criticize.

  7. Never played Fate – I did not even try it, because I did not like the asianophile cutesy style of the graphics.

    Seems as if they have much more success with the same game in a new shiny package!

  8. Never played Fate, never even heard of it till Torchlight started getting press recently.

    I did however play the heck out of Diablo 2.

    I am for the life of me LOVING Torchlight. If you liked Diablo 2, you WILL like Torchlight… plain and simple. It takes all the good things of diablo keeps them, throws out all the crappy stuff like stamina bar and inventory BS. And Adds some cool stuff like the Dog and other things.

    Highly recommend

  9. I view this game like a Titans Quest….a simple layover until the real deal comes out (Diablo 3)

    In the meantime my money is best spent on a Dragon Age preorder or just saving it.

  10. I played the hell out of Fate and tinkered with the demo of undiscovered realms and you know what, I don’t care.
    The additional polish and the pimped out soundtrack are easily worth the paltry asking price. I turned a lot of people on to fate as a nice, casual dungeon crawler and those same people are equally as happy with Torchlight.

  11. Am I the only person who knew about Fate before Torchlight? :O

    Actually, I can’t remember how I found out about Fate in the first place. All I remember is that it showed up on the WildTangent game console and I had some crazy marathon sessions with it, since WildTangent only let you launch the game three times before asking you to buy it.

    Which begs the question – why the hell did I have WildTangent installed to begin with? I think I was browsing through some indie game blogs and noticed that WildTangent was offering Mr. Robot (a fun little rpg/isometric platformer) for free.

    Man, I guess Fate didn’t have much of a marketing blitz after all.

  12. Your comments are exactly what i thought. A carbon copy of Fate (not that that is a bad thing). For me, disappointing, as I wanted something more like Mythos.

  13. I tried the demo last night.

    I love Diablo and Diablo 2.

    I found this game pretty dull. The environments were so indistinctive. Its the same blue rock all the time. And it is so cramped. Does that change?

    Are there no cool environments like in D2?

  14. Well I didn’t care for Fate, yet I am loving Torchlight. I also didn’t really care for Mythos, something about the running threw me off. But again, I think Torchlight is spot on.

    I also liked Diablo 1 more than 2, and to me Torchlight feels like a 3D, post-WoW/MMO-gaming-world refresh of Diablo 1, with the pet system of Fate thrown in for good measure. It is awesome, and I can’t wait for the editor and the months of goodies people make with it.

  15. @Muckbeast
    Are you still in the first area? Remember, Diablo and Diablo 2 did the same thing – very different acts, but each level within them was pretty similar in terms of environment. Get to level 5 if you want to see a change in scenery 🙂

    And if you think Torchlight’s dungeons are cramped, you don’t want to see the ones in Fate.

  16. I just bought Torchlight on recommendation of a friend who raved about it.

    I hadn’t heard about Fate, and I’m guessing he hadn’t either – because he was describing the pet/fish-feed mechanic to me as new.

    Argh! Wish the download would finish more quickly!

  17. I agree with what you say. I love fate and found no difference in torchlight other that the three class system which really is the same anyway. however I would recommend fate because undiscovered realms added much more game play and was cool to see your old character in a new better version of the game with more depth.

  18. fate was good until i keep seeing things as it was the first level and doing the same over and over again. torchlight is more like kick ass as to fate’s kick with no ass to kick.

  19. Fate was a great dungeon crawler. It’s hard to find a good roguelike game these days. And that’s exactly what Fate is.

    Fate, and Fate: Undiscovered Realms are okay games.

    Torchlight felt like a more graphical representation to the game, but no where near as fun or challenging as fate.

    I would suggest Playing Fate: Traitor Soul. several races which almost break down as classes, each with it’s own unique pet, however you’re free to choose from any of them.

    Not to mention that Fate his a crap ton more Mods available to it then Torchlight.

  20. I thought Fate was an ok game but it was just a bit too “cartoony” for me. Torchlight to me is like Fate and Diablo put into a blender. Out come Torchlight.
    I like it.

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