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1. It's by the guys who co-designed Diablo and Diablo II (and, consequently, plays a lot like a more streamlined version of those two). Take a bow, Max and Erich Schaefer, as well as Travis Baldtree, the guy responsible for WildTangent's laudable 2005 action-RPG Fate. Forget the absent Blizzard "seal of approval," these are the guys that made Blizzard.
2. It's a PC-only game. Well, PC in the "personal computing" sense anyway (there's a Mac port in the works). Point is, here's one to throw at all those consoles-do-or-diers, who'll be dropping $60 or more on games half as cool (okay, maybe two-thirds) through the holidays.
3. It's built to run like a turbo-charged super-car beamed back from the future. Everything about this thing cooks. The interface snaps to attention when you interact with vendors or drag items around, levels load in microseconds, and your character books across the screen like a magic-laden cruise missile.
4. The story begins "I have always been a wanderer," which is only slightly more cliched than "Call me Ishmael," or "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," though not as racy as "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins" or as astonishing as "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." The magic realism version next time, eh Runic?
5. There's an optional ultra 'hardcore' tick box above and beyond the "very hard" difficulty setting. It makes death permanent. My level two destroyer croaked earlier, and that's all he'll ever write--no reloading or resurrecting. New character or bust. Brutal, Runic, simply brutal.
6. The music sounds just like the pensive, finger-plucking, steel-sliding twelve-string dirge that practically defined the original Diablo. That's because Matt Uelman wrote it, and--you guessed it--Uelman's the guy behind Diablo, as well Diablo 2, StarCraft, and World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. Diablo's soundtrack was great. Torchlight's is even better.
7. It's not Diablo 3. Sick of all the slobbering Diablo 3-worship? Here's your chance to vote "not Blizzard." Until Diablo 3 arrives next year, anyway, and you scream like a little child all the way to the store to buy a copy.
8. It runs on a Netbook. Seriously. It even has a "netbook mode."
9. Runic says it'll release Torchlight's entire suite of development tools as a free gift to the modding community, available from the game's official site. Did I mention the part about the toolset being free?
10. Diablo 3...what's Diablo 3?