Torchlight II – Review | Ogre Jungle

2013 03 03 00006 300x187 Torchlight II   Review | Ogre Jungle

Developer: Runic Games

Platforms: Microsoft Windows PC

Release Date: Sept. 20th, 2012 worldwide

Genre: Action Role-playing Game

Players: (Third-person view) Single-player, Multiplayer

Ratings:  (ESRB: T) (PEGI: 12) (USK: 16)

With a battle roar to shake up Blizzard’s Diablo III, Torchlight II came to the stage. The game took its popular predecessor and built it up to what the series should have been from the beginning, and fans gladly ate it up. The developers at Runic Games, many of which had their hands in making Diablo I, should be proud of themselves.

Torchlight II begins with The Alchemist, your magic-user hero from Torchlight I, going berserk after the Ember Blight infecting him is never cured. He steals the heart of Ordrak and proceeds to destroy the town of Torchlight. Then continues on into the Estherian Steppes where he begins stealing the magical energy from the Elemental Guardians that keep the world’s six elements in check.

You appear as the new hero and follow The Alchemist’s path of destruction as you find a way to stop him. Along the way you discover the reason for his actions and his true intentions. You also get a crap-ton of loot!

Story: A-

Torchlight II’s story is pretty simple for its genre. Your character has no interaction with the main villain throughout the majority of the story, but instead is following his trail and bypassing the traps he left behind. You pick up details about the plot as you continue forward, but I personally was not a fan of this storytelling method. While the NPC interactions were sometimes interesting, I did not sense much realism coming from any of them. It had more of a follow/find the MacGuffin feeling most of the time, and I disliked the story not really giving me a strong incentive to follow this crazed Alchemist. I actually felt like joining his side at certain instances, but that is not an option, unfortunately.

TL2 does make up for this with a large amount of optional quests and even Easter eggs that can be rather difficult to find. What the story lacks in emotional incentive it makes up for with quest after quest you can scratch into your journal.

Runic Games has my praise for connecting their Torchlight games with a shared character, but they have another major issue with the plot that is still bugging me. The main story is too short. Even after exploring every nook and cranny and doing every optional quest, I didn’t believe that I had actually finished the game after whooping the final boss. I kept expecting some plot twist to appear and continue the game forward, but it never came, to my disappointment. This is the major crippling aspect of the game for me, since I play most of my games for the story rather than the gameplay. I really hoped for a long epic tale that I could pass on to my children’s children one day, but I was left out in the cold (At least it didn’t leave me bored).

Graphics: A+

Torchlight II has a very nice cartoony style that is made more interesting with the inclusion of gritty bloody visuals on kills. The game is nowhere near being overly violent, but it still has a more mature feel to it than Torchlight I. There is also an option to turn off the gore if you so wish (No option for more blood though).

The armor and weapon visuals also look great. They become more detailed and interesting to look at as you level, just like you would expect in your dungeon crawler, and the full armor-sets look great on all the characters.

Runic did a great job taking the beloved visuals of Torchlight I and expanding them to an even more stellar condition. Great job guys!

Sound: A+

Runic once again dragged in Matt Uelmen of Diablo, Starcraft, and World of Warcraft fame to compose their musical scores, and he didn’t slack off a bit. All the music in this game is top-notch quality and will make sweet passionate love to your ears (That sounded less creepy in my head). If you pass on playing the game than I urge you to at least grab the OST. Actually, here is a FREE copy from Runic Games just for you.

2013 03 03 00022 300x187 Torchlight II   Review | Ogre JungleGameplay: A+

The amount of content squeezed into this game is insane, and I will do my best to detail the best of the bunch, starting with the pets.

Pets: Like the first game, Torchlight II has pets to aid you in your journey by fighting beside you and selling your things back in town. However, you get a few more options this time around. Rather than being given a simple selection of a cat or dog, you are given the choice of: Wolf, Cat, Bulldog, Panther, Papillion, Ferret, Chakawary (Looks like a Velociraptor mixed with Lindsay Lohan), Hawk, Owl, or Badger. To top off this huge list, you are also given alternate color choices for your chosen pet.

Multiplayer: Unlike the first game, you have the option to play online with up to 6 players, counting yourself. You are capable of starting your coop journey through either internet play or LAN (Who honestly doesn’t want a TL2 LAN party?). The game is hosted on one of the player’s PC and switches to another player’s if the host disconnects. Player experience is shared if they are within vicinity of each other, you deal less damage to enemies, and each player receives their own loot from enemies and chests. All of this is perfect in my book, but I have had a few lag spike situations even when all players had pretty beastie machines and decent internet connections.

The World: Torchlight II moved away from the endless dungeon that kept you delving deeper and deeper, and replaced it with a world for you to travel. The game still holds dungeons galore, but alongside them you are travelling through frozen tundras, scorching deserts, and diseased bogs. The random generation from TL1 is still in place, so you can replay the game without worrying about boredom.

Hero: Your hero choices have also been increased. It’s been bumped up from a static choice of 3 classes with unchangeable genders, to  a choice of 4 classes with male and female versions. The classes were changed as well to: Outlander, Embermage, Berserker, and Engineer. Each of them have very different play-styles and 3 distinctive skill trees to focus on after leveling.

Mods: The game is 100% mod accessible, which is beyond great. Runic Games is even close to releasing their own free mod kit, GUTS, for anyone who wants to jump right into making them! This automatically boosts the replayability of the game to massive heights. However, until GUTS is released, you can try your hands at some homebrewed mods. www.runicgamesfansite.com has a few tutorials  and tools to get you started.

Controls: A+

The controls have not changed much from Torchlight I. It follows the same layout as most dungeon crawlers, even the Diablo series, and you can hotkey your skills with a few simple button clicks. I found no issue with the controls during my playthroughs, and they actually become very comfortable.

2013 03 03 00010 300x187 Torchlight II   Review | Ogre JungleEnjoyment Level: A+

Torchlight II definitely gets a high score in its Enjoyment Level. The game is insanely addictive and has no qualms about stealing hours and hours from your life. While its story and length leave you wanting, its other qualities more than make up for it. Runic Games crammed as many fun and interesting concepts as they could, and the end result was a top-tier game. If you haven’t got your hands on a copy than head on over to Torchlight2Game.com to try the free Demo or to purchase a full copy. You can also head on over to Steam if that is your cup o’tea.

Overall Score:  A+

 

Please leave a comment of your Torchlight II opinion or experiences down below. Thanks for reading and take care!

 

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Written by Jonathan Parsons

English teacher and freelance writer Jonathan Parsons is a longtime gamer working abroad in Japan. He spends his free time swimming through the Akita winter snow to his car and playing classic PC and Famicom games.

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  • http://thecrankyoldgamer.blogspot.com/ TheCrankyOldGamer

    Honestly, despite what we discussed on Twitter, I completely agree with all of your sentiments except for “Enjoyment”. The game is graphically gorgeous, great soundtrack, solid storyline. My only thing is that after about 10-12 hours, I just got bored. It wasn’t necessarily Torchlight 2′s fault, it is this whole genre. Torchlight, Diablo, even the Isometric D&D games like Baldur’s Gate. The gameplay itself makes me feel so uninvolved and detached from what my character is doing.

    Plus, the gameplay sort of detracted from the graphical beauty, in my opinion. Some of the enemy character models were absolutely beautiful, and very well detailed. A stunning mix of hand-drawn and 3D art. However, in order to handle combat in the game, I had to be so far zoomed out (so I could see all enemies around me) that I never got to appreciate that beauty up close.

    • http://www.ogrejungle.com Jonathan Parsons

      Thanks and you’ve got some really good points too. You really have to naturally enjoy these isometric style games to begin with to really get into the Torchlight series. The gameplay style is so different compared to most games of other genres and I think that has to be a massive turn off for many gamers.

      I’ve really have to do something about Baldur’s Gate now. Not sure how that slipped my mind. =P

  • http://thecrankyoldgamer.blogspot.com/ TheCrankyOldGamer

    Well the new Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition did drop on Steam recently for only $19.99. Maybe it’s a sign!

  • http://www.ogrejungle.com Jonathan Parsons

    That’s the type of sign I like to see. =P

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