Game Review: Torchlight II

Release date: 2012
Version played: Windows 10 in 2017 (via Steam)

Developed by Runic Games, Torchlight II is an action-RPG in the same vein as Diablo and the Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. Originally released in 2012, players take control of a hero tasked with tracking down and stopping the corrupted Alchemist, a possible player class from the first game. Players are able to choose from the Engineer (slow, heavy weapons), Outlander (ranged weapons), Berserker (dual wielding smaller weapons) or the Embermage (magic), and can mix-and-match weapons, spells and armour in order to complete their journey.

Please note: this review is based on a single-player playthrough of the story, on hard, using the “Berserker” class (a class which focuses on dual wielding dps, mostly). I finished right on level 50 (out of 100), with little to no grinding. I might do another run as a different class, but my complaints were not class specific, as far as I can tell, so maybe not.

+ the graphics are bright and detailed, whilst still retaining a cartoon-ish style, especially character proportions. Visually, the game reminds me more of Warcraft than Diablo 3 does (not surprising, as the co-founders of Blizzard North, the team behind Diablo and Diablo 2, formed Runic Games)
+ avoids some pitfalls of Diablo 3, wherein a good weapon is not the be-all-end-all of a character build. For the majority of my game, I stuck with a pair of lower level swords just because they had some nice enchantments on them (and the ever-handy gem slots)
+ players can choose a pet, which acts as both a combat ally and a go-between of players and the various shops. Basically, it means you don’t need to go back to town to sell stuff as much as you did in the Diablo games

torchlight_ii_2.png
The HUD, graphics style and control scheme reminds me of Diablo 2. Note my wildly mis-matched armour pieces.

– whether or not it was because I have not played the first game I can’t say, but I found the story here to be incredibly bland and at times confusing. The general formula seemed to be ‘the guy you’re chasing was just here, but he’s gone and sealed the way, so find a way around’, repeated three or so times. Then there is a sudden and very underwhelming finale and that was it, and you’re thrust right into the post-game
– I found the gameplay to be incredible boring. I tried out mix and matching a few different styles, with various weapons and skills, but the best strategy seemed to always be pouring stat-points into Strength and just clicking on things until they died. The time penalty spent buffing myself before combat was often nullified by how much damage the enemies did to me before I could strike back
– either player characters moved too slowly, or the levels were too large and empty, it’s up to you. Trekking across an entire map became tedious as enemies never respawned, and having to navigate various dead ends or walls, ramps and other obstructions just made for a frustrating backtracking adventure
– I really didn’t enjoy the animated cutscenes between acts. Something about them just felt completely at odds with the rest of the game

Should you play this game: I had been on a Diablo 3 binge before being suggested this, so I admit that is my main comparison. Overall, the two games are about even, with certain things being better in Torchlight (pets, class builds) or Diablo (story, level design). If you are a fan of these sort of action-RPGs, you might enjoy Torchlight II, but I would still suggest Diablo 3 over it.

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