Torchlight 2 Review (PC)
Torchlight 2 is the sequel to the critically acclaimed game of the same name – minus the 2 obviously – from Runic Games. Torchlight is a dungeon crawler where you control your character through nearly endless levels of beasties and monsters to claim a big treasure. To make it more interesting the maps are all procedurally generated from chunks of well designed areas that are sewn together in the game engine so well you’d never even know. The sequel expands on all the successes the original had in nearly all ways. The maps are massive, theres an open world to explore rather than a single town, theres hundreds of new items and so much more.
Torchlight 2 adds four new classes to be played with the older 3 being updated or retired. The Embermage is a powerful wizard using magic of all elements, the Outlander is a nomad famed for his use of ranged pistols and low level magic to defeat his foes, the Berserker uses melee weapons with strong animal style attacks and the Engineer – my choice of character – is a steampunk themed character who uses massive weapons including from hammers and canons and a whole array of summonned minions. Runic also increased the number of pets you could choose from a range of mythical beasts. However I had to choose a ferret. The first randomised name for my pet was Professor. I had to choose a ferret…
After you’ve created your character you get a hand drawn cut-scene that begins explaining the plot outline for your upcoming adventure. Torchlight 2 follows on a couple of years after Torchlight. The Alchemist has become corrupted from the Heart of Ordak and now seeks a new source of Ember. He destroys the town of Torchlight and sets off on a rampage through the land to satisfy his needs.
Now, having not played Torchlight I had absolutely no idea what most of this meant. It would have been nice if they threw caution to the wind and explained the story of the first Torchlight game a little more clearly rather than throwing new players into the middle of the story, but you could argue that 1) I should have bloody played Torchlight, and 2) in the long run it doesn’t matter that much as the game is a dungeon crawler. Runic could have been excused for skipping the story altogether.
As the cut-scene draws to an end you are given control of your character, and you start in the middle of what looks like an army camp and there’s a man with a bright idea close by: to send you on your merry quest. The controls are pretty simple. Click a place, character runs to place. If place clicked is a monster, run to weapon range and have at it. In big fights it became a little difficult however. Im not sure if my mouse was just too sensitive or i was being crap, but sometimes I had a lot of trouble clicking on the desired enemy, and if you had a melee weapon your character would run around to try and attack an enemy at the back. It became easier as the game went on though, so maybe it just requires some getting used to.
Had I not already known that a lot of the Runic staff are ex-Blizzard employees, I would not have been surprised to learn the fact after playing Torchlight. The aesthetics are very much like World of Warcraft with a cartoony realism to the art style, and the game play is no different to Diablo 3 in most respects….. except Runic got everything right, unlike Blizz with Diablo 3.
A lot of fans of the original Torchlight were disappointed that it didn’t have a multiplayer option, so Runic gave them all the options they could want with Torchlight 2 short of an MMO (which i believe is one of their goals). You have the option to play in a single player campaign, a LAN game or an online game (requires you to create a Runic account). You can choose to start the game on any difficulty, it’s not required to play through the same sodding story with the same character four sodding times. There’s no auction house for Runic to try to make money from so item drops are the same level as your character rather than 10 levels below. I might be getting a bit cynical now.
As your character levels you gain 5 stat points you must spread over 4 stats, and a skill point which you could invest into any of the three skill trees. The Engineers trees let him be a two-handed melee weapon master, specialise in creating robots to aid him in battle, or a sort of paladin type character using a shield and one handed weapon.
The only problem i had with this (which is entirely my fault because I skipped the help message informing me) is that i didn’t notice there was three skill trees. I finaly spotted this when I had already gained a few levels and as my first skill point seemed to have been spent on two handed melee weapons, I instantly starting spending all my points into this tree. I was absolutely destroying enemies in fights, but I had to chug a potion during and after each fight and was finding the game exceedingly difficult. I was playing on the hardest “Elite” mode so I expected it to be tough but I wasn’t enjoying having to stockpile potions. It wasn’t until I found a gigantic canon that I started really enjoying my play. Luckily most of the points I had spent made two handed weapons do more damage so my previous skill expenditure wasnt a total waste, and I was allowed to reset my last three skills for a fairly low price.
I stuck those three points into a robot that could heal me and never looked back. By the end of the game I had a robot healing and restoring my mana, nine spider bots that would run at nearby enemies and explode, a gattling turret, and from some spell scrolls I found, four skeleton archers and three zombies that would suicide bomb enemies. I was literally a one man army and I cackled through the rest of the game.
I absolutely loved this game. The few problems i ran into while playing were either my fault or easily forgivable. The art style was perfect for the game and the randomised map generation was seamless. Torchlight 2 is available on steam for £14.99 and I urge you to buy it. If you have any reservations about dungeon crawlers after playing Diablo 3, Torchlight will cure your ails. Hell, who doesnt want to go fishing with dynamite?
9 shitting-hells out of 10