More Dungeons, More Loot
Back in 2009, fans of dungeon-crawling loot fests were a bit on edge, waiting to hear something, anything, about the sequel to Daiblo II that we all knew was in the pipeline. Unfortunately, Blizzard wasn’t ready to tell us a whole lot about it back then. So when Torchlight came out, it was seen by many as the game that would hold us over until Diablo III would finally come out. And while it wasn’t as feature-heavy as a true Diablo game, it definitely scratched the right itch at the perfect time.
But Torchlight II launched in a vastly different world. Not only had Diablo III finally been released, but Torchlight II shared a launch week with another greatly anticipated loot fest: Borderlands 2. While the original Torchlight was given a fairly positive reception, its sequel would need to do far more in order to—pardon the pun—carry the torch.
Thankfully, Runic Games was well aware of this fact, and as such delivered a vastly improved dungeon-filled experience. In fact, of all the items on my personal nitpick list, I can think of very few that didn’t end up being crossed out with Torchlight II.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that a vast majority of people who enjoyed the original Torchlight were hoping for co-op in its sequel. And Runic delivered: You can now tackle the game’s many dungeons with up to six players via an Internet or LAN connection. And the implementation of this is actually pretty brilliant. Games with randomly generated loot can be a nightmare when it comes to co-op, because people are prone to get in arguments over gear. In Torchlight II, loot is dropped for each player individually. This means that when you see a pile of treasure, you can take the whole thing without feeling like a jerk about it. You will only ever see your own loot on your screen, so you won’t be getting into any fights over who gets what. Sure, this isn’t entirely unique (Diablo III has a similar loot distribution system), but it sure is welcome.
And speaking of dungeons, there are several more of those here. In the first game, there was really just one main dungeon, with optional randomly generated side dungeons to tackle if you so desired. This worked for the first game, but it would have been nice if this dungeon were broken up a bit more in order to not become so fatiguing. Torchlight II has several dungeons, though none of them are anywhere near as large as the original game’s massive main dungeon. Some people might miss that epic feel of a nearly endless dungeon, but I would say that smaller dungeons are actually an improvement. After all, some of us find short play sessions better suited to our schedules, and Torchlight II’s around-30-minutes-each dungeons hit a sweet spot that makes the game quite addictive for those of us without a lot of time on our hands.
Of course, more dungeons means there had to actually be outdoors areas connecting them. Every dungeon entrance exists on an explorable landscape, and these outdoor areas are perhaps where the game is allowed to shine the brightest. The environments are detailed and varied, allowing you to traverse everything from snowy mountaintops to red-sanded deserts (with a night and day cycle, I might add). And these areas are completely gorgeous, delivered in that cartoonish Torchlight art style.
That’s not to say the dungeons aren’t aesthetically pleasing; those are as stylish as ever. It’s just that when such a huge portion of your game time is spent in dark, claustrophobic areas, it’s nice to see some sunshine every now and then.
And there are more towns as well. Where the first game only had a single village, the second has three. Unfortunately for the nostalgic, the original town of Torchlight has been destroyed since the first game, so you won’t be going back to the game’s titular town this time around.
Another thing I need to give Runic props for is the sound design. The sound effects are excellent, with quite a few of the monster sounds actually surprising me by being so unexpected yet so completely fitting for the creatures that make them. Also, the sound of advancing your stats after each level-up is loud and satisfying, making you feel immensely powerful with each click. In fact, even the narrator—who notifies you whenever you level up or send a pet off to sell your discarded items—eventually grew on me, even though he was admittedly a little annoying at first.
And the music is great as well, with some electric guitar peppered into the orchestral tracks. It sounds great, and never feels inappropriate in Torchlight II’s almost steampunkish setting.
Of course, one of the coolest features of the first game has returned: Pets are back! Yes, they still fight alongside you and can still be sent back to town to sell off your loot so you don’t have to head back to a vendor in the middle of an intense dungeon run. Also, you can once again fish at specially marked locations in order to catch fish that can be consumed by your pets for a variety of effects. And to top it all off, there are more pets to choose from now. I chose a ferret who was wearing goggles.
Additionally, the developers have promised to continue to support the game without making people pay. It sounds like this means there will be free DLC at some point, which is very appreciated in an era of microtransaction stores. On top of that, the game is very open to modding, with its TorchEd mod tools being offered shortly after launch. Needless to say, the play value of this game is insane for a $20 download.
If you had even the slightest interest in the original Torchlight, or if you’re tired of Diablo III but are still itching for some more loot-grabbing RPG action, Torchlight II is well worth the asking price. In fact, you should probably feel guilty for only paying $20 for this game.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
Cartoony and stylized, but still detailed and varied. 4.1 Control
You can control this entire game with a mouse if you want to, though WASD enthusiasts might be disappointed. 4.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound effects are incredible, the music is grand, and the voice acting works as well as it should. 5.0 Play Value
30-hour-ish campaign, New Game Plus, co-op, moddability, and the promise of free future content. All of this is only $20. 4.6 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best