a new game comes along whose driving force is
click-kill-click-loot-click-click-click, it’s hard not to make
comparisons to the Diablo franchise. That’s especially true in the case
of Torchlight II, a dungeon-crawler whose creators contributed to the
former’s fruition. So let’s get that necessary comparison out of the
way, then: If Torchlight was Runic Games’ Diablo, than Torchlight II is
its Diablo II; and no, we don’t mean in the sense that a roman numeral
was slapped on to the end of the title. Torchlight II completely
overshadows its predecessor, adding co-op play and a host of welcome new
features while refining those that brought the original to our
attention in the first place.
the game’s greatest addition is cooperative multiplayer that supports
up to six players. You’ll want to play online if you can (though a
connection is not required for solo play), as the game becomes immensely
more enjoyable, especially when taking on higher difficulties or the
perma-death inducing Hardcore mode--or even when joining friends of
drastically different levels if only to chat while you play and explore
the Torchlight II’s new setting.
sequel ditches the singular multi-floored dungeon of the first in favor
of a beautifully detailed and atmospheric world. From the
arachnid-filled deserts of the Mana Wastes to the werewolf-infested
swamplands of the Blightbogs, you’ll encounter all sorts of outdoor
areas rife with personality. Not only are these places fun to look at,
but you’ll find yourself eager to uncover every inch of terrain thanks
to a smattering of loot-tastic side quests, challenge-based dungeons,
and randomized events, all of which often yield delightful rewards worth
seeking. Because your companion pet can now buy potions and scrolls for
you in addition to selling your junk, you can stay in the action
indefinitely, only ever being forced to travel to an outpost when a
quest requires it.
quests usually lead to creepy dungeons that contain some of the best
boss fights in the game. These absolutely mammoth and challenging
encounters will keep you on your toes, rivaling--and often
surpassing--the greatest showdowns the genre has to offer. One fight
will have you battling a gargantuan four-legged beast adorned in
steampunk armor while dodging its attacks in addition to cannon fire
from far. Another will require you to avoid fire-spewing geysers,
circular magic traps that stun, and frighteningly thick laser beams all
while taking on a boss that fills a quarter of your screen. Even when
you’re not facing off against huge creatures, Torchlight II is a far
more challenging game than the first, even on normal difficulty. Expect
to frequently mash the potion-chugging button and die. A lot.
Granted, you won’t really care too much about why
you’re adventuring around, killing all those really cool-looking
monsters. The game’s narrative is nothing special, and you’ll shrug
while its key characters insist that you’re the only one who can save
the world from...whatever. Thankfully, the story is never intrusive, and
you’ll quickly stop thinking about it once the slaying and looting
II is a faster-paced game than the original in every regard. You’ll
move far more quickly through the world. Upgrades are found with just
enough frequency to keep you destroying everything in sight. Doing so
means your character will level up fast, providing more points to dump
into more skills and stats, which in turn makes you a more efficient
pure variety of playstyles in Torchlight II impresses as well. Its four
classes--the bulky smash-happy Engineer, the fast-fighting rogue-esque
Berserker, a ranged weapons expert called the Outlander, and, of course,
a magic-blasting Embermage--each have a unique twist.
be eager to experiment with all the cool, inventive skills at your
disposal, and that desire is further incubated by the way the game
places level caps on how often you can upgrade each ability. Because you
can’t just power level one or two skills right from the start, you’ll
spend a lot of time examining your options, discovering some truly
interesting class builds in the process.
tiered bonus system also means pumping points into an ability is more
worthwhile than ever before: For every five points you invest in a
skill, you unlock a specific buff for that ability, usually in the form
of increased range, radius, or duration. Just plan your build strategies
early on, as you can only reset up to the last three points you’ve
spent at any given time. This strange decision creates mixed messages.
How can we experiment with new builds when we don’t have the tools
necessary to try new things or extract precious skill points from
abilities that might not see much use later on?
what remains is a fantastically designed hack-n-slash RPG. And, because
Runic released the full modding toolset it used to create the game,
perhaps the best is yet to come once the modding community goes to town.
Even without the potentially infinite number of player-made maps,
skills, and items, Torchlight II is a worthwhile loot-fueled adventure
that will soak up hours of your day without you even noticing--and
because you can now embark on that journey with a few friends in tow,
there’s never been a better time to jump into the series.
This game was reviewed on PC.