A game is not a list of bullet points

Syp at Bio Break did a post today declaring Torchlight to be a carbon copy of Fate, and he has a list of bullet points to prove it. And looking at his list, I can’t disagree with a single point. In some cases I’m taking Syp’s word on the fact that the points match up, because I never got far enough in Fate to see how later parts of the game, like passing items on to other characters, worked.

Why? Because I found Fate tedious. A not-very-good Diablo clone with a vile copy protection scheme. It came pre-installed on one of my HP machines which allowed you to play a few sessions for free and then asked you to pay for the game. It never occurred to me to pay for it because I didn’t find the game the least bit compelling.

And yet my early hours with Torchlight have me enthralled. In fact I hesitated about writing this post because writing it is eating into my Torchlight time.

To really explain why I love Torchlight while I found Fate pretty ‘meh’ I’d have to re-install Fate, and that isn’t going to happen, so I’ll just have to look at the intangibles of Torchlight and make some guesses. And mostly I think it’s because the combat, simple as it is, feels so satisfying. Each attack lands with a solid impact. Each urn breaks with a satisfying crash. When dozens of creatures swarm out of a tunnel or a mine shaft it just sends a thrill up my spine… “To battle!!!”

Fate just felt like ‘click click click’ whereas Torchlight feels like ‘Slash! Bash! Pow!’ … even though the mechanics and bullet points match up so well. Torchlight has a soul. Fate was just a game. I guess you can’t capture ‘soul’ in a bullet point.

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And while we’re talking Torchlight, GameInformer has a post up on how to rebind the keys. It isn’t as easy as it should be, but it ain’t rocket science either.


8 thoughts on “A game is not a list of bullet points

  1. I did not play Fate, but I remember why I did not play Fate: The graphics style is, while both are quite “cutesy”, different from Torchlight. Especially the main character looks like the generic anime geek, which turned me off immediately.

  2. Yeah, and iirc you were a little kid. I also don’t remember a choice of classes. I mean, this is all obvious a personal preference thing, but like you, @Longasc, I don’t have fond memories of the graphics in Fate.

  3. I think you’ve hit upon a very big idea here!

    Some people play games almost as interchangeable experiences. I feel like those people grab titles off the shelf because they’re the next big-name FPS or RTS game rather than for any concern over story or message. I don’t seem to be built that way.  I loved the Xenosaga games not at all because they were sci-fi RPGs, but because I get into the stories told. (For that reason, I appreciate every single cutscene, and I don’t think any of them are extraneous.)

    I feel like, as art, a game is much more than a list of bullet points. And, on the other side, I do NOT feel that features should be added to a game in order to make it more marketable. Pity the industry doesn’t share that belief. 

    Part of me believes that this is the reason we’ll never see Mother 3 in the US.  

  4. I tried Torchlight yesterday and was wildly unimpressed. I didn’t feel a deep / good enough story to keep me going and the clearing of the dungeons was pretty “meh.” I liked Diablo 2 and I’ll definitely get Diablo 3, but Torchlight just seems like the Little Diablo Who Couldn’t.

  5. @Wiqd: you played Diablo 2 because the story kept you going? Seriously?

    I loved Diablo 1, liked Diablo 2, didn’t like Fate, and didn’t really like Mythos, either. Yet for some reason I love Torchlight. To me it has the best of Diablo 1 (minus the slightly spooky/haunted atmosphere) – loot, loot, and more loot, and lots of stuff to kill satisfyingly. Plus it adds in lots of additional mechanics and great 3D graphics.

    What makes it better than Fate are the better graphics (not just in the technical sense but also in the art direction – just miles better), better dungeon design, better combat. I love the satisfying thunk and shake of attacks in Torchlight. You feel really powerful. It’s a great “blow some steam off and relax” game.

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