It’s been a few months since I’ve last played Torchlight, though that isn’t to say that I didn’t have fond memories of doing so. In fact, I gave it high praise in the review I wrote for it, here:
Torchlight II, like it’s predecessor, is an action RPG that allows the player to slay monster after monster all the while completing quests, earning fame, and picking through mounds of loot. The top-down view and the various character information screens have that familiar feel to them, though the game has added some interesting features that noticeably sets it apart. Before I go into specifics, I’d like to thank Wonder Russel from Runic Games for sending me a free copy to review.
After loading up the game, you’ll be able to create a new / resume a game, set options, view cinematics and credits, and log in to the Runic network. I’d like to touch on that last feature first, since you’ll need to get that set up in order to play online with other players. On the very lower right hand corner is an option to “Log In”…after clicking it, you’ll be prompted to login with a user name and password or create a new account. New players will need to do the latter, but it’s a very simple, painless process that took me all of two minutes to do. After filling out the registration form and linking Steam to my Runic account, I was set up and ready to play online whenever I wished.
Once that is out of the way, you’ll quickly be on your way in creating a character. One thing I noticed straight away is that I was able to change the sex of the class I chose, along with some physical attributes. After you pick one of the four classes (Embermage, Beserker, Engineer, or Outlander) and name him/her, you’ll be prompted to choose a pet to accompany you. There are some new animals to choose from (compared to Torchlight I) and I personally appreciated the option to bring a ferret along for the ride. When I got this far in the character creation process, I chuckled at the thought of the little troublemaker going through town and stealing every expensive, shiny piece of armor it laid its eyes on. Alas, such a thing wasn’t possible, so I chose the wolf and named it Indiana to compliment my Engineer class.
After choosing a difficulty, you’ll have the option to play single player or multiplayer via network or LAN. As you progress, quit, and resume playing, you’ll be able to choose each time what mode you’d like to play in. You could progress a few levels solo one day, then jump into some co-op with the same character the next. This is a welcome addition to the Torchlight series and I commend Runic for making this incredibly easy to manage.
Alright, so we know that logistically, everything is stable and relatively seamless, but how does it play?
Having played all of the games in the Diablo series and having put countless hours into Torchlight I, I’m pleased to report that wading my way through monsters in Torchlight II was both satisfying and fun. Diablo III is a rather large contender, but I am finding myself drawn to Torchlight II more because of its casual atmosphere. I’ll be honest, I haven’t touched Diablo III in months because of how insanely difficult Inferno mode is and how grindy it can be when it comes to finding gear. I shouldn’t have to rely on an auction house to progress further and see endgame content…but that’s a different beast that I won’t go into here. Torchlight allowed me to play from start to finish without any hiccups and so far, Torchlight II is proving to be the same experience…which to me, is a good thing.
Like in Torchlight II, you’ll be able to send your pet back to town to sell your gear. As someone who is an in-game kleptomaniac, this is a welcome feature. I was going back to town every two minutes in Diablo III…I don’t have to do that here. Fishing is still a fun feature, allowing you to turn your pet into some scary looking creatures for a short period of time. Besides the notable changes in creating characters as compared to Torchlight I, I’ve come across a few other things that were different. For one, I noticed a day / night cycle in play as well as weather effects…a nice touch to the overall ambiance and atmosphere. Some areas are noticeably larger compared to Torchlight I…it took me twenty minutes at one particular point to clear an area and explore every nook and cranny it had to offer.
I enjoyed my experience with the review copy so much that I purchased the game for Jennifer, who spent more hours on Torchlight I than me. It’s rare to find a video game that we both enjoy playing, but I’m happy to say that Torchlight II allowed us to “nerd out” a bit together…that is…when she wasn’t fishing. I had to poke fun (in jest) as the first thing she did upon creating her first character was make her way to town and proceed to fish for ten minutes straight.
In terms of graphics, it still has that cartoonish look, but the game is still beautiful to look at. The game also runs fairly well on Jennifer’s laptop, which is by no means a gaming machine. It has difficulty running games released within the last few years, but Torchlight II seems to run smoothly on medium settings, over LAN, without too much trouble. The graphics were turned up on my end and I was appreciating the amount of detail the game was throwing at me.
Controls were just as easy to settle into. I remembered a lot of the controls from Torchlight I, so I was quickly adjusting my hotkeys to best suit my needs. New players may need a few hours to settle in to how the mechanics work, though Jennifer managed to do so in relatively short order and she’s not someone who plays action RPGs often. That should be some indication as to how user-friendly the controls and game mechanics are.
I found the game to be highly replayable, mainly due to how differently the four character classes play. My World of Warcraft friends know how addicted I was to leveling up each and every class the game had to offer…it turned out to be no different in Torchlight II. The Embermage is your typical spellcaster class, the Beserker is all about up close and personal melee damage, the Engineer seems to be a melee tank class that can drop trinkets to support the party, and the Outlander is a skilled ranged fighter. I’ve had the most playtime with the Engineer class so far and I have to say that he does well in a group. Jen is able to cast heat seeking energy bolts with her Embermage while I tank, heal, and shield us with all of the utilities I have at my disposal. I have a feeling that a lot of you who end up purchasing this game will be trying out more than one class, even if it’s just to see which one you enjoy playing the most.
My sole complaint, and it is fairly relevent, is that the game only allows you to respec the last three skill points you’ve spent. If you dump a whole bunch of points into one skill that you discover won’t be using anymore later on…it’s too bad, so sad. While I understand that this design forces players to live with the consequences of their actions, I must point out that the Torchlight series has always been a casual game, at least to me. I can see a more hardcore game implementing a mechanic like that, however, this game is designed to be friendly to the casual gamer. I don’t see how removing the ability to respec the points in their entirety will benefit the casual players (like Jennifer). Unless you know what skills you want from the get-go, which I can tell you now that most casual players won’t, you’ll be stuck with skills you won’t end up using. It just makes more sense to me that this game should continue to be user-friendly and implement a full respec option so that all players can be satisfied. Hardcore players who want to stick to their guns can simply choose not to use it.
In the grand scheme of things, Torchlight II is worth its price tag of $19.99 (as of 10/5/12) and then some. It’s a classic example of a company taking a successful game (Torchlight I) and adding even more bells and whistles to make the sequel even better. It’s certainly one of the better games I’ve played this year. The co-op functionality, the user-friendly game mechanics, and diverse character classes serve to increase this game’s replayability to levels even higher than its predecessor. I could easily sink hundreds of hours into this game…twenty bucks is almost a steal when you compare it to sixty dollar games that offer a three-hour campaign. I won’t come out and say that you must buy this game, but I highly recommend it, especially if you’re looking for a something to keep you occupied over the next few months. Well done, Runic!
Final Verdict: 10/10
You can learn more about Torchlight II by visiting the following website:
You can play the demo / purchase the game on Steam via the following link:
You can view video play sessions here: