Sweet As Syrup: Torchlight II Review

Every now and then, a game comes along that greatly represents something we’ve played long ago. It fills that gaping void and gives us new memories that hearken back to what made us like the original in the first place. Torchlight II is a good example of this, as it acts as a good send-up to the amazing Diablo series. You see, the Diablo games used to be a great source of entertainment. The original 2 Diablo games were classic, but afterwards the series went on a decade long hiatus. In 2009 though, some of the developers of Diablo got together with a new company and brought us the indie gem known as “Torchlight”. This game played similar to the original, thrusting you into a fantasy world where you must make your way past deadly monsters and kill an evil lurking threat.

The game was a massive success, to the point where a sequel was made three years later. It expanded upon the Diablo-styled roots of the original games and added in new gameplay features and tweaks. It soon became one of the most well-developed dungeon crawlers ever, featuring a large of community of modders and a fun character upgrade system. It became a favorite game of mine and to this day it remains one of the games on Steam that I’ve played the most. I always go back to it and try out new mods, never tiring from the customization elements presented. Today, I wish to discuss one game that I can never tire of, one game that made me decide to get into PC gaming. Today, I shall discuss the impressiveness that is Torchlight II.

Need To Know Stuff

Torchlight II is a game that is exclusive to PC. The graphics settings aren’t super-demanding, but I doubt you can get it to run at max settings on a computer that is 10 years old. You can purchase Torchlight II on Steam and it often goes on sale for 5 bucks (In Canadian dollars) Torchlight II is developed by Runic games and was released on September 20th 2012.

Can you vanquish the Dark Alchemist? (Image property of Runic Games)
Can you vanquish the Dark Alchemist?
(Image property of Runic Games)

Plot

There isn’t much to discuss in this section as Torchlight has a narrative so thin that it’s practically see-through. The story takes place after the first game and revolves around the Alchemist being corrupted by dark ember energies and becoming an armor clad monster known as “The Dark Alchemist”. Using these powers he starts to corrupt the land and destroy those around him, desiring to manipulate the lands to fit his own desires. Unfortunately, that’s about as deep as the story gets.

Most of the plot is delivered on these wall-of-text screens that do little to entertain you. You’ll sit there bored as the NPCs blather on about boring stuff, most of which you won’t even pay any attention to. The game features nice looking animated cut-scenes, but there’s only four of them throughout this 10-12 hour long campaign. And upon reaching the end of the story and coming to face-to-face with the Dark Alchemist, you are given a disappointing boss battle with him. Not only does he not say anything or do anything remotely threatening, he also doesn’t offer a satisfying end-game encounter. To be fair, after trouncing him the game continues, but it was still disappointing to come to what I thought was the end and do battle against a forgettable villain. If I can be honest, the plot was the only part of the game that I found to be weak. Every other part of the game was fairly well-done!

Gameplay

The game starts you off by choosing one of four different classes: Berserker, Outlander, Engineer, and Embermage. Despite certain classes being aimed towards melee or magic, the class and skill is designed to allow you to tailor any class in a variety of different ways. You can make a combat-heavy Berserker into a spell-casting badass, or an Outlander into a magic-wielding gunman. The options are innumerable and the way the skill system is setup makes it even better. Unlike in other dungeon-crawlers where you have to put certain points into skills you don’t want in order to unlock higher tiers, here you are given complete freedom. You can place points into whichever skills you want and if there’s a skill you don’t want, you are under no obligation to put points into it. It’s been coined as being a “Skill-Bank” rather than a “Skill-Tree” and it works a lot better than the old system.

The gameplay itself is pretty basic, you click on an enemy and attack it. Nothing too revolutionary here. You can also bind your abilities to the number keys so you can easily use your attacks and buffs. The game is built upon you collection better weapons and armor pieces and eventually growing your character to a point where is near unstoppable. Most weapons or armor have two different requirements, one based upon your stats and the other based upon your level. For example, if you have a sword you can only use if your strength is high enough you can just simply wait until you are a high enough level to use it. Another feature of the game is the easy to use modding system. Using this, you can install mods with ease without the threat of corrupting your un-modded save-files. If I can complain about anything in the gameplay department, it would be some of the difficulty modes don’t offer enough challenge. Seriously, Veteran difficult was way too easy for me!

The game boasts online play which works pretty smoothly for me. The game not only lets you play the basic un-modded game, but also allows you to play with other players using mods. Let’s say you don’t have the same mods as that person and you really want to play. Well, you still can! The game let’s you download all those mods with the click of a button and then proceeds to shuffle around your mods so you have the same combination as the host of said game. Now you can play with your friend / buddy / random stranger to your heart’s content!

Visual Stimuli

The game boasts a rather nice-looking art-style. Everything looks cartoon-y and I’m okay with that, after all I don’t need every game to look like Metal Gear Solid 5 in terms of graphics. The world’s cartoon-ish look gives it a nice flourish and stops the game from looking like just another dungeon crawler. Weapon and armor designs are also pretty nice-looking with various weapon and armor-pieces having differing looks.

The music is pretty good, though it’s nothing I’d write home about. It doesn’t assault your ears in any way and it just generally sounds nice, but it’s not something that would make you run out and buy a soundtrack. The voice-acting on the NPCs is serviceable, but it would most likely not stick with you after you’re done with the game. The health bars and menu are well-designed and the item-management system is far less cluttered than other Dungeon Crawlers of this type.

In Summation

This game is fun and addictive and still stands as one of my favorites. Sure, it has it’s flaws here and there such as having a lackluster story but the gameplay makes up for it. It’s easy to get a grasp on and it’s very fulfilling to tailor a character to your specifications. Giving him epic loot and awesome skills helps define your play-style and it feels so rewarding in that regard. There are so many different ways to make a unique and powerful character that I encourage you to play through this game more than once. Considering the fact that its not an overly long game, multiple play-throughs becomes a very tempting offer. In short, this game is amazing and very well priced. You’ll get hours out of creating new characters and goofing off with all the mods. In short, I give this a game a very well-deserved 9/10.

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