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Review

Torchlight II Review

  • Game release: September 20, 2012
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

Traditional loot-driven action role-playing games don't get much more addictive and enjoyable than Torchlight II.

by

With Torchlight II, history is repeating itself. Like the original Diablo, Torchlight took place in a single town and in the dungeons below it. Like Diablo II, Torchlight II improves on its predecessor in every way. The scope of the adventure is larger. Its settings are much more varied and memorable. The four character classes have a more exciting array of skills. And whereas Torchlight was a single-player affair, Torchlight II adds multiplayer support for up to an impressive six players. Yes, clicking and looting your way through hordes of enemies in Torchlight II is a familiar experience, but it's a great one nonetheless.

Much like the playable warrior of the first Diablo becoming corrupted by the Lord of Terror in Diablo II, Torchlight II begins with the influence of the evil Ordrak's heart twisting the once-heroic alchemist. Setting out on a misguided quest, the alchemist has left the town of Torchlight in ruins and cut a swath of destruction across the land. As one of a new set of adventurers seeking fortune and glory, you set off to stop him. The story is a perfectly adequate excuse to send you slicing, blasting, and casting your way across the land, but it doesn't have much impact on the overall experience.

What does have an impact are the classes and their varied abilities. As an outlander, you can use a wide assortment of ranged weapons--bows, pistols, shotguns, and more--to damage enemies from a distance, and you can hurl a spinning glaive that ricochets off of foes. Engineers excel at dealing slow, devastating attacks with massive weaponry, and can whip up healing robots, turrets, and other support machinery. Embermages wield the power of the elements, conjuring weapons of pure flame and making shards of ice rain down from the sky. Berserkers are the speediest and craziest of the bunch. Inhabited by a spirit wolf and capable of entering a frenzied state, berserkers can leap right into the fray, wildly punching their way through crowds of monsters.

Each class has a charge meter that fills up as you deal damage and makes you more powerful, giving you an incentive to get into the thick of the action and keep dishing out the pain. And of course, as you level up, you earn skill points that let you select and improve an assortment of active and passive skills that complement your character's core fighting style. Acquiring new skills and finding effective combinations of skills that you enjoy using are big parts of what makes progressing through Torchlight II addictive, and great new skills continue to become available to you quite late in the game. You may have long combined the outlander's repulsion hex, which keeps enemies at bay, with his (or her--classes aren't gender-specific in Torchlight II) rapid-fire ability, only to hit level 42 and find that your newly available ability to summon a massive brute opens up effective new skill combination possibilities.

It's hard not to feel like the hottest embermage around when you're dual-wielding wands in the fiery Twinferno set.

Whereas the first Torchlight was a bit of a cakewalk on the normal difficulty setting, Torchlight II offers a manageable but satisfying challenge that requires you to make better use of your skills. The result is that you always feel enormously capable and powerful, but not so powerful that victory is effortless. (If you crave a greater challenge, you can jump right into the veteran or elite difficulties, and you can activate Hardcore mode, in which death is permanent, on any difficulty setting.) You can have up to 13 skills at your fingertips, and combat situations may motivate you to draw on many of them, as you face ethereal wolves and warriors, heavily armored dwarven automatons, and gargoyles that swoop into the air and come crashing back down.

Torchlight II's steady onslaught of enemies is usually enjoyable to manage. However, on occasion, things get out of hand, and the action can start to chug when the screen fills with enemies. Additionally, architecture can occasionally block the camera. You see outlines of yourself and enemies through walls, but it's not a good substitute for an unobstructed view. Still, Torchlight II's terrific enemy variety keeps you on your toes, and its frequent boss fights make for exciting climaxes to each leg of your journey. Not to mention rewarding ones.

Yes, the loot in Torchlight II is endless and enticing. With all kinds of stat bonuses, bonuses for wearing sets of armor or dual-wielding sets of weapons, and other benefits to consider, you frequently find yourself weighing the pros and cons of swapping one piece of equipment for another. That's all part of the fun, of course, and the option to have two sets of weapons that you can switch between on the fly helps you stay versatile in combat.

The option to customize some weapons and armor by slotting property-enhancing chips, shards, and other items into sockets lets you spend many happy minutes tinkering, and you sometimes encounter enchanters who can conjure up a boost or two on your gear, for a price. The loot stream is so constant that inventory management can become a bit of a burden at times. Thankfully, your faithful pet can be used as a pack mule and be sent back to town to sell unwanted gear. In a great addition, your pet can now also purchase potions and other basic items for you.

Your quest takes you through a diverse array of colorful locales. The Estherian Steppes of the first act are lush and vibrant, contrasting with the desert wastes that surround the second act's central town of Zeryphesh. In the desert's dungeons, you encounter elegant but dangerous machinery, mobile sentries, and small, electrified copters that look the way such advanced technology might look if built by ancient Egyptians. In the rainy, fungal forests around Grunnheim, you stumble upon werewolves feasting upon corpses, and in the dwarven mines, sparks fly and steam-powered contraptions sputter. The locales and the characters who inhabit them are bursting with visual personality. There's a subtle, good-natured goofiness to Torchlight II's presentation that makes you want to smile even when you're making monsters explode into little bits and painting the floors with their blood.

It takes many hours to reach Torchlight II's conclusion, and your quest doesn't have to end there. You can take your character into a new game plus that's scaled to his or her level. You can also carry on your pursuit of fame, fortune, and loot by purchasing maps that give you access to randomly generated dungeons. These dungeons can be rated as high as level 105, exceeding the level cap of 100, so players seeking a rewarding, long-lasting endgame should find it here.

Now that is one big pile of loot.

The multiplayer functionality isn't as elegant and full featured as it is in Diablo III. You can't see which of your Runic Games friends are online before opting to play an online game, and you may need to do a bit of searching on the server list to find games friends have created. Conveniences like linking items in chat and dropping unwanted items so that other players can pick them up are absent; you need to open a trade window with other players to show them any items that may benefit them. These minor inconveniences can break up the flow of the game, but for the most part, tearing through Torchlight II with a friend or five is immensely enjoyable.

Torchlight II is a lovely, well-crafted game. Its colorful and inviting world is a pleasure to explore. The eclectic soundtrack provides an alternately haunting and energizing accompaniment to your exploits. The classes are distinctive, and each has a terrific assortment of skills. To top it all off, this sizable and thoroughly satisfying game is a great value at just 20 bucks. The loot-driven fantasy-themed action role-playing game clickfest hasn't seen much change since the days of Diablo II. Torchlight II doesn't innovate and it doesn't surprise, and the genre may need an infusion of new ideas if it's going to stay vital. But Torchlight II serves up the old, irresistible recipe about as well as it's ever been done.

The Good
Four distinct classes with great abilities
An addictive stream of enticing loot
Vibrant visuals
Cooperative multiplayer supports up to six
A terrific value at $20
The Bad
Action occasionally gets choppy
Multiplayer lacks a few conveniences
8.5
Great
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Discussion

22 comments
leonichan
leonichan

Good review (haha, since it echoes a lot of my own thoughts about the game).

But just to add, I think that mods are such an important thing when talking about this game that those would have warranted at least a small mention in the review. There wasn't much to play in the first Torchlight without them and in that aspect this sequel has improved massively. You actually have a full game without any mods. But the developer still built this game with the idea that mods are great and that modding should be made as easy as possible by the developer.

Zevvion
Zevvion

You know those people who say 'best of the genre/ever!' and you can't help but think: 'Man, just use a little nuance will you?' Even though I know comments without nuance seem useless, it's incredibly hard for me to try and say any other dungeon crawler is better than Torchlight II. 

I really, really, really want to say that Torchlight II is my favorite in a genre full of amazing and great games, but the truth is that Torchlight II is just miles ahead of the competition. 

First, Diablo III is just... not even that good in its own right. But compared to TLII it seems bordering on poor even. Let's face it for a moment: the reason we like dungeon crawlers is because of loot and skills. Let me make a small list here:

Diablo III:
6 skills at any given time (1 through 4 and two mouse buttons) and one consumable
Must choose from skill categories; can't create your own combinations as you see fit
Limited inventory space

Torchlight II:
12 skills/consumables at any given time (1 through 0 and two mouse buttons)
Pretty much anything can be mapped to anything; complete control over your own combinations
Large inventory space
A pet with the same inventory space as you
Pet can be sent to town to clear, effectively, half of your total inventory space for gold without having to return yourself

That alone is a HUGE difference. Couple that with the fact that in Torchlight you actually also get good loot drops without having to pay for it and loot drops are a lot more frequent; it's just a much better game.

I've been playing some Path of Exile lately and that game seems pretty good also though. However, no pet and small inventory space (even smaller than Diablo III) makes me still prefer Torchlight II.

b0sse
b0sse

The first Torchlight game bored me to death.

This game looks more fun though.

Sorrow_42
Sorrow_42

A game that deserves to be bought.

cgobeil
cgobeil

I bought it on Steam for 6 bucks it's insane!

Greylo
Greylo

I've put maybe 150 plus hours so far into Torchlight 2, first time trying hardcore in a game and this game is incredible. I have not bought D3 yet due to many bad comments about the game, and the fact that you have a real money auction house to buy gear. In Torchlight 2 gear is fun to find even on elite or hardcore, and each time I make a new character I find new stuff. Personally I like the graphics as I'm a WoW fan of old. I will eventually get around to trying D3 when the price goes down and the patches are all running. I like Torchlight 2 better than D2 to be honest. I can't wait til they make Torchlight 3, or even finshing the game and hitting 100 and trying it all over again.

Not since old Morrowind came out have I enjoyed a game so much.

I had hight hopes for Skyrim and put maybe 33 hours in but after going and finding the dungeons got nerfed, mainly the forts which are no longer large dungeons, and some caves that have maybe a creature or two and a chest, I will eventually try and finish Skyrim but I just like the way Torchlight 2 plays.

johnsm1th123
johnsm1th123

I found this game addictive it is the only game ive played alnight and only $20 great value. I have not played Diablo 3 yet so i cant comment on which is better.

FreedomPrime
FreedomPrime

Ive played both Diablo III and torchlight II and by a longshot Torchlight is a better game and, its alot cheaper too. Great value. D3 was fun at first, but once I got to inferno and realized that the auction house was only implemented to force people to pay to win I stopped.

dreamerdonkey
dreamerdonkey

Our whole office play this game when our boss is not anywhere near :D 

Gregolay
Gregolay

I got bored after 3 hours of play. There isn't anything new or exciting for me here, just another title of the genre.

GValer
GValer

anyway Diablo better!

nate1222
nate1222

Torchlight II builds on everything that made the first game so awesome. I own the first Torchlight via GOG, and Torchlight II via Steam. Both are every bit worth owning. Though, I'd prefer both via GOG; DRM-free.

d33pak001
d33pak001

The only problem with this game is that there is no xbox controller support.

VAMPYREANGELUS
VAMPYREANGELUS

this is what d3 should of been and could of been if not for blizzard just wanting to make tons of money and screwing the players with their real money auction house.

Frozen_dust
Frozen_dust

I find myself unable to quit this game. Even after finishing it several times. :D

Ronaldius
Ronaldius

Realy like this game, to bad it will not come to x-box, whit local co-op.

rhollingsworth
rhollingsworth

Borderlands 2 is far more entertaining than Diablo III.  It is a perfect compliment to fantasy action RPG like Torchlight II.   So once, i get a little tired with Borderlands 2 (never know when that will be), i will jump on the TL II bandwagon.   Especially reading how much people enjoy it

Diarma10
Diarma10

So far this game is everything I expected it to be, and more. I love the graphical style, it won't date easily and - more importantly - the gameplay is smoooooooth.

 

Runic intuitively know how to make a game that works. I read that they want to take a break from RPGs and move into other genres, this is good news, because these guys know how to release a game that is gamer friendly. This may sound like an odd thing to say, but anyone playing a UBIsoft game might understand.

blackfray
blackfray

a lot better than diablo 3 specially in the skills system.

ben33646
ben33646

So disappointed in this next torchlight series, i just finished torchlight (1) and now there is a paste-over torchlight 2,

Boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Not good. Not impressed.

a bloody Diablo gone, 3d, crap.

 

issicus2
issicus2

I thought it was kind of odd how I could go through the whole game (on normal) using only one skill....

CommodoreRaslin
CommodoreRaslin

Torchlight 2 brings back all the gameplay mechanics I hated about Diablo 2.

 

Specifically the horrendous leveling/skill system.

RedEyedMonster8
RedEyedMonster8

People arguing about Diablo 3, I totally didn't expect that.

pathosfire
pathosfire

I don't get the D3 hate and the constant bickering over which is better.  You all do realize the Torchlight developers are huge Diablo 3 fans too, right?  And they said Diablo 3 would be a day one purchase for them.

 

They are both fantastic games.

Marikhen
Marikhen

@Zevvion Actually you can choose your own skill combinations in World of Diablocraft.  It's in the UI settings somewhere IIRC.  I've got my Demon Hunter set up with, for example, Entangling Shot on left click, Bola on right click, and Elemental Arrow, Rapid Fire, Sentry, and Companion on the numeric slots.

Eraldus
Eraldus

@migdilos the future mods will do the killing... for now, Torchlight 2 is just torturing it slowly...

dreamerdonkey
dreamerdonkey

@migdilos Yap, you are right. Its not Diablo killer. Because Diablo III kill the entire series. 

redder1111
redder1111

@d33pak001 are you dumb?!!! who plays such games on pc with 360 controller? NOOB!!!

dreamerdonkey
dreamerdonkey

 @d33pak001 HAHA, you are talking about xbox controller, they not even let you to customize your PC control :P

Zeran_kariashi
Zeran_kariashi

@VAMPYREANGELUS The developers are mostly formerly from Blizzard North, aka the guys who made Diablo and Diablo 2. It's why Torchlight actually feels like a Diablo game, and Diablo 3 doesn't.

Eraldus
Eraldus

@ben33646 ok... you really don't know what you're talking about...

kukumav
kukumav

 @pathosfire they are not HUGE d3 fans and d3 is not fantastic, you are a bit dramatic, aren't you ? they've only been courteous with their comments regarding d3 and actually have pointed out many of its mistakes.

Ballock
Ballock

@redder1111 @d33pak001 Actually Torchlight on the xbox was and is awesome...I would love Torchlight II on XBLA going local co-op on one tv screen with a bud on the couch. That's how I prefer multiplayer

philMcCrevis
philMcCrevis

 @kukumav  @pathosfire exactly...Torchlight lead guy said the issue with D3 for him was that he could find better stuff in the AH than he could find in the game and that ruined the experience for him.  Not sure where Pathos is coming from.  

Zeran_kariashi
Zeran_kariashi

@forthefunofit @PinchySkree @Lucasdxx @philMcCrevis @Drahk1 @kukumav @pathosfire And to add insult to injury, they're bringing D3 to the PS4 in the form the PC users originally wanted. No always online, LAN/4 player local co-op, no RMAH and tweaked drop rates to be similar to what a proper Diablo game should have. Still not happy with the skill system, and I already said no more Blizzard games after what a huge disappointment D3 was, so I shan't be buying it (why would I, already have Torchlight 2...the REAL D3, as made by the original developers of Diablo and Diablo 2 (look it up, Runic are formed from former developers from Blizzard North))

PinchySkree
PinchySkree

 @Lucasdxx  @philMcCrevis  @Drahk1  @kukumav  @pathosfire 500 hours of farming boring items isn't the same as 500 hours of fun gameplay. Poor production value in terms of dialogue, quests , character progression and item stats. Polishing a turd, yes. The balancing has been fail so far and all the updates are TINY.

Lucasdxx
Lucasdxx

@philMcCrevis@Drahk1@kukumav@pathosfire

Pathos has a point,  the rest of you D3 haters chill and accept other peeps opinions.

 

I have put more than a whopping 500 hours of gameplay in D3, a great game by anyone's standards with great production value, blizz is still polishing the game,balancing classes and improving it with every update(huge tweaks with v1.4).

 

On the other hand Torchlight 2 is a great game for its value so give it a rest and let people enjoy what they like best.

philMcCrevis
philMcCrevis

 @Drahk1  @kukumav  @pathosfire man i couldn't agree more Drahk1....the skill unlock system in D3 is so fricking bad.  It's rare that an unlock is an improvement.  There was no compounding of skills just another variation that had little positive use or that required a complete rework of your characters tactics to utilize.  D3 is the single greatest disappointment game wise in the last 10 years for me.  Each his own but I cant stand the design and Blizzard is a shadow of their former self

Drahk1
Drahk1

 @philMcCrevis  @kukumav  @pathosfire Agree with kukumav and phil, and IMHO, the skill system in Diablo 3 is horrible.  I can't stand the idea that unlock skills as you progress, but they may be no more useful or even worse than ones that you've already unlocked - you're supposed to get more powerful as you level up, and it goes against this idea.

Torchlight II More Info

First Release on Sep 20, 2012
  • Macintosh
  • PC
Torchlight II lets you play with your friends in the world of Torchlight.
8.5
Average User RatingOut of 1030 User Ratings
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Developed by:
Runic Games
Published by:
, Runic Games, Daedalic Entertainment
Genres:
Action, Role-Playing