Release Date: September 20, 2012
There’s nothing particularly impressive about this story, but there isn’t anything wrong with it. The plot revolves around the typical “save the world from chaos” storyline that all gamers know well, and doesn’t deviate much from there. That said, it’s unlikely that many people are playing Torchlight 2 for the story content, so the plot does what it needs to do. It keeps the momentum of the game rolling along for its thirty hour run-time so that players can focus on what they started the game for: the gameplay.
Gameplay is really the draw of a game like Torchlight 2, and as such, a majority of the review will be focused on diving into the gameplay mechanics. Being a game that is often touted as “indie Diablo“, the standards set are high, and this game almost always delivers. Starting off with the character creation screen, the player is given the option of picking from four character classes.
Preferring magic-based classes in all of my RPGs, I picked the Embermage when I played through the game, but I have since started the game as all four classes and played through the first few levels. All of the classes feel great and cater to different groups. People who like tanky or spellsword classes may prefer to play as the engineer, while rogue-style players may opt for the outlander.
One small note I had is that, from starting the game as all four classes, some feel stronger out of the gate than others. Engineer has an auto-healing mechanic that can be accessed from the first level, whereas the outlander felt like I wasn’t getting a lot of damage output. These are just early game thoughts, so it is very possible that the classes even out as the game goes on, but it’s something that I’m curious about and may play more in the future to determine more definitively.
Speaking of levels, this game uses a tried and true skill tree and stat allocation system that feels rewarding. There are three skill groupings per class, and each grouping focuses on a different area. For my embermage, the three groups were based on fire, ice, and lightning spells. A nice aspect of Torchlight 2 is its flexibility with classes. The skill groups are not traditional trees. If I reach level ninety and want to purchase the last skill in the fire magic group, even if I haven’t invested a single point into fire previously, I can do this. Mixing and matching abilities between the groups allows me to effectively create my own character class, something I personally preferred over cookie-cutter skill trees from other games.
One hugely disappointing aspect of the game is the inability to respec my character. In games like this, I love to reset my skill points and try a different build in order to tweak my playstyle when I get bored. Unfortunately, for a game as flexible as it is, there is no ability to respec more than the player’s last three skill points. It feels like a glaring omission that restricts my ability to experiment and tended to send me running to the internet frequently to see if I would regret putting my skill points into specific abilities.
A unique feature of this game is the ability to bring a pet into battle with the player character. This pet can attack, defend, and even equip certain spells to use, but the most useful feature is the ability for pets to return to the hub town. Whenever I got into a tight inventory situation, I sent my pet back to town to automatically sell my items, and buy me a few potions to boost me for the rest of the dungeon. Buying and selling with my pet became a gameplay mechanic that I will miss in other games of this genre, and it removes a lot of the eventual tedium that comes from constantly trekking back to town to sell another group of stuff.
I feel like there is an enormous amount of stuff to still tackle, but in the interest of brevity, I’ll just quickly outline a number of other features that are useful or fun. There’s a ton of side quests and dungeons for more loot-grinding fun, online modes so friends can team up against monsters, the ability to enchant and socket equipment so players can further personalize their characters, a hardcore mode that turns the game into a permadeath roguelike, and four single-player difficulties so everyone of all skill levels can enjoy this game. There’s so much more I could share, but this review would be three times the length, so I’ll stop it there.
Since this game is now about six years old, the graphics are a little dated by modern standards. That said, the game is colorful, using a cartoon-inspired animation style that stands the test of time well. Zooming in to see facial animations is generally inadvisable, but the environments are beautiful and detailed. A small feature that I deeply appreciate in video games is that my character’s appearance changed to match the equipment I was putting on them, something that even today, many video games fail to accomplish.
Sound design here is fantastic. It’s useful for determining who I’m getting hit by and from where, and the swooshes that come from my own weapon hitting an enemy are satisfying. In terms of music, the main theme from Torchlight 2 is beautiful and has an epic vibe to it, but I would be hard-pressed to remember much else from the score. That said, similarly to my above comments on the story, music isn’t really why people play this game, and that’s okay.
I bought Torchlight 2 years ago after finishing and deeply enjoying the first Torchlight game. For some reason, however, the second game just didn’t catch my interest for a long time. Now that I’ve finished it, I can’t believe I waited so long! Regardless, this is a fantastic action RPG that fans of the genre owe it to themselves to play. Now, if everyone will excuse me, I have to go play some more…
Personal Enjoyment: 9.5/10
Technical Review: 9/10