It's been an awfully long wait for Diablo fans since the second entry in the beloved action RPG series saw the light of day in 2000. But for many, the thumb-twiddling has been made easier to bear by Torchlight, Runic Games affectionate riff on Blizzard's classic beast-slaying formula.

While by no means identical, the 2009 dungeon crawler clearly pays a sizable debt to Diablo, so much so that you might imagine Blizzard's hackles would have been raised. Well, not a bit of it the Diablo III team are huge fans.

"We play those and we generally love them," said art director Christian Lichtner when Eurogamer asked what the team thought of games knowingly riding Diablo's coat tails. "Torchlight we love it, we play it a lot."

Lichtner then went on to single out Gearbox's 2009 first-person shooter Borderlands as another office favourite.

"I'd say Borderlands is inspired a little by Diablo we love Borderlands," he said, before explaining how keeping an eye on the likes of Torchlight can help in the development process.

"It's always great. We love it, we talk about it, we scrutinise them from a gameplay standpoint to see what we can learn, to see what they've improved on. It's all good as far as we're concerned."

Created by some of the same team responsible for the original Diablo, Torchlight won a glowing 8/10 from Eurogamer when it launched on PC a couple of years back.

"It's the best Diablolike since Diablo II, and a very real rival to the upcoming Diablo III," wrote Alec Meer.

"Even though there is nothing new or truly unique about Torchlight, nothing at all, that it so confidently and prettily takes the fight to Blizzard is an enormous compliment."

The game gets a belated Xbox Live Arcade release on 9th March, with a full PC sequel due later this July. Discounting a miracle, that will be well before Diablo III finally emerges from Blizzard's demon forge.

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Fred Dutton

Fred Dutton

US News Editor

Fred Dutton is Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.