Perhaps one of the better action RPG titles in recent memory, Torchlight was a game that players could get into quickly. It felt familiar and it gets players right into the action fairly quickly. It had a lot of features that innovated the genre even more, something that a certain company that the developers used to be associated with would then pick up. But most of all, it was a fraction of the price compared to other similar games. With the release of Torchlight II, most of that has been remained the same, along with more features.
Being touted as the true best action RPG of this year, Torchlight II had a summer release period that gave no exact promises. But after some hand-wringing and hair-pulling, it came out this September and immediately clogged up the servers in Runic Games due to the sudden influx of gamers who wanted to try out the online multiplayer, which supports parties of up to six characters per game. That is the best feature in Torchlight II, although it doesn’t take away from the other things that this game is good at.
As you start a game, it gets into the action quite quickly, perhaps only one NPC interaction away from your first enemy encounter. Getting quests is quite easy, only needing to confirm upon talking to an NPC. With the pace coupled with the somewhat short length of the game, it does sound like Diablo III all over again. But perhaps the difference is that Torchlight isn’t as boring to grind in due to the pacing, consistency, and maybe even its lack of overemphasis in the storyline.
But there are other things that make it fun, like the well-designed skill system. You have a total of four character classes to choose from, and the skill trees for each are both diverse and balanced, giving you ways to create builds for different experiences. Each class has three different skill trees to choose from, each with numerous skills for a multitude of possibilities. In this regard, it adds quite a bit of replay value to the game. Combined with the excellent loot system that gives you a whole ocean of items to equip and use, Torchlight II is starting to seem like that other game, and yet more solid in its execution.
Perhaps it’s also more conservative in this approach. While the story could have been more embellished, what you get here is just enough to provide flavor to the game. As for the gameplay system, there isn’t a lot of new things added to the whole thing other than further refinement of the classic action RPG formula. The good thing about this is that there is a great degree of familiarity in such a system, especially with so many gamers playing MOBAs and other games with RPG elements. The genre has influenced game design to such a degree that there are not a lot of gamers out there, casual or hardcore, who can honestly say that they wouldn’t know how to play Torchlight II.
The graphics have been improved, but retain the same cel-shaded look. The sound effects are still crisp and the music ties in with the game quite well. But most of all, there is so much content in the game that even if you are about to finish the main quests, there are a lot of things to do around so you can have more motivation to further strengthen your character by taking side quests and such, then face that final boss with renewed confidence and finish the game on a strong note.
While it doesn’t do much for innovation, this is proof that having a solid foundation equates to a great gameplay experience. While some may contend with that adage of “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”, Torchlight II does say a lot about the action RPG genre and how it’s still relevant to this day. Aside from the new multiplayer, which was requested incessantly since the first game, Torchlight II’s greatest strength is its polish.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 9/10