Torchlight 2 is one of the most addictive dungeon crawls I’ve played in years- and yes, I include Diablo III in that statement.
Back in the ’90s I absolutely ate up these kinds of games. Isometric dungeon crawlers like the original Diablo (as well as its sequel) and Baldur’s Gate were some of my favorite time eaters- right up there with the big RTS’ and FPS’ of the day. Kind of a three way fight for the PC on any given night.
After a few years though, the genre sort of dried up. I can’t even really remember the last ‘good’ lootfest I played prior to Diablo III. It might have actually been the first Torchlight back in ’09.
And the problem with that game (for me at least) was that it just didn’t seem ‘big’ enough. Maybe I had lost interest in the style of play- either way, I couldn’t get into another one until D3. Diablo III was a great game that really nailed so much of what the genre is known for; tons of monsters, loot for days, massive dungeons… good stuff all around.
You know what though? I like Torchlight 2 even more. And it’s not really something that I can put my finger on per say- it could just be a case of personal preference. But man, do I dig this game.
Torchlight 2 starts out with a quick character customization session. There isn’t all that much to do here though, so don’t worry. It’s all pretty basic and superficial stuff (plus your class selection) and takes only a minute or two.
The game’s story kicks off with a bang from there. Although it’s still not exactly a sweeping epic, it’s nonetheless serviceable and has its moments. What I liked most though is that it plunges you deep into the world of Torchlight right off the bat. Read that again- the world of Torchlight. Where as the first game was all set in one gigantic dungeon (that I really didn’t find all that interesting), T2 sets you on adventures across a multitude of very different battlefields.
And it looks glorious doing it too. T2’s graphics are of a much lighter fare than Diablo’s (for the sake of comparison’s sake) and I personally liked that route a lot more than Blizzard’s action/RPG offering. They’re definitely not cel-shaded, but they’re close.
The tone almost feels like a Lord of the Rings type setting too… it’s just a lot of fun to play through. Most of the areas are colorful and bright, some are suitably creepy and forbidding- but they all have just a hint of cartoony brilliance.
That goes for the character designs too. There was a massive amount of time and creativity put into the characters and monsters in Torchlight 2 and it shows in a big, big way. adventuring across the landscape, I almost always found myself coming across a new type of villain to vanquish. There are almost as many monsters to slay as there are quests to go on – and that’s saying a lot.
The questing in T2 is linear at its base, of course, but there are plenty of side-quests to embark upon. Just to give you an example- while raiding a camp of ferocious beasties I came across a spirit haunting a pier. He told me that there’s an army of skeletal pirates hiding out nearby and that they had wronged him in life.
If I took off after them and saw justice done, he’d be willing to part with a sizable reward in the form of a rare item. After vanquishing the baddies, I could choose between three excellent pieces of loot with which to epuip myself and forge onward. I took the dog collar by the way. Hey, my best wolf needs protection too you know?
That’s another thing about T2 I really like, the pets. More than just an over-glorified pack mule or errand
boy dog, pets in Torchlight 2 are vicious fighters and will aid you in battle to no end. You also need to care for them by making sure they have their health up and are properly set for combat with some enchanted kit… and fish. Yes, much like in The Legend of Zelda games, you can fish in Torchlight 2. The difference here is that you can feed your catch to your pal building his/her attributes which in turn can get you some nice bonuses in battle.
If you’ve played a dungeon crawl in the past, then you have experience with T2’s control scheme. This is simple to use stuff (thank God) that is as uncluttered and ‘out of the way’ as possible. Click on a baddie to attack (right click to use a special attack), left click on the ground to move or on an object to investigate. That’s it and that’s all it has to be.
Menus for both you and your pet are on tabs just at the edges of the screen. Click and the menu pops out, again and it collapses back keeping the view of the action clean. Inventory is equally easy to manage, as is equipping your adventurer. Satchel overflowing? Just toss some of the least desirable stuff on the ground- just don’t forget that that’s one of the things your pet is there for! I kept tossing things early on because I forgot that my companion has storage too. So you don’t need to get rid of that crappy pair of pants if you really don’t want to. Although, really.
Even the sound design is excellent in Torchlight 2. For the most part, the tracks tend to stay out of the way, but if you give them a listen, they really compliment the action well. In some cases (like in the tombs, they’re quite spooky too. Good stuff all around.
There really isn’t too much to dislike about Torchlight’s first sequel; and that’s coming from a (fairly) lapsed fan of the genre.
One of the things that bothered me most about the first game, the lack of a ‘world’, is now a moot point and the rest of the game is just plain brilliant.
While it is true that T2 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it really doesn’t have to. It takes exactly what action/RPG’s are at their core and then hones that formula to a fine razors edge. Everything from the graphics to the play control and the story (which is still a tad on the light side for my liking) are terrifically enjoyable and will keep you busy for a good long time.
Have no qualms about accepting this quest ARPG-ers, it’ll be well worth your time.