September 27, 2012

Into the Sprawl

Lasting First Impressions of Torchlight II

Developed by Runic Games

TorchlightIICoverArt» I was never a huge fan of the Diablo series of games and had absolutely no interest in one of the biggest gaming releases this year when Diablo III finally made its way to store shelves.  Surprisingly though, I really enjoyed Torchlight when it released for PC in late 2009 and finally Xbox Live Arcade last year in 2011.  There was just something about Torchlight that appealed to me more than the Diablo games every did.  While I never spent the hundreds of hours playing the game like many fans did, I enjoyed the simpler aspect of Torchlight and the sense of light fun that the game provided.

Torchlight II has now made its way onto the digital shelves of Steam and other digital distribution houses to many a fan’s delight, complimenting this year’s release of Diablo III.  Returning, once again, to the realm of Torchlight, players will, this time around, explore more outdoor maps instead of the ever deepening pit of the original game.  The map in Torchlight III seems as wide and long as the original was deep.  Perhaps even larger.

Employing the same cartoon like look of the original game, Torchlight II seems to be even brighter and more vibrant than its predecessor.  Esthetically, Runic Games did not strive for the realistic, dark and foreboding look found in other dungeon crawlers; instead, the fun of the game comes out in the lighthearted character and creature designs without taking away from the quality of the game.  Every creature behaves in their own unique way: wolves will emerge and attack as you pass by their dens, skeletons will rise from the floor and shamble towards you, and large lumbering ogres will swing their massive clubs and swords your way, each with their own personality.

Torchlight screen

Controls are exactly as you’d expect with the simple left and right mouse button controls for primary and secondary weapons.  In addition, a customizable toolbar is available to dock any item you wish to be called forth at the touch of a key.  This layout is perfectly suited to leaving your left hand on the keyboard at all times as they use the numbers 1 through 5 and the letters Q through T.

Torchlight II is sure to provide hours of endless fun and exploration for any fan of dungeon crawlers.  Runic Games certainly understands the goal of all players in this type of game: loot!  Torchlight II is full of plenty of loot and it won’t take long to find armor and weapons that are better than what you already have.  One feature I think is great is the auto-equip feature which means that the game will automatically equip any item you find that fits into an empty slot.  When the game starts, you have only the standard armor which does not take up any slots.  As you find better armor along your adventures, you can be sure you will be automatically equipped with the better stuff.  Keep an eye on your inventory though since this only applies to empty slots.  Once they are filled, you will need to manage the upgrades yourself.

Along for the adventure is your choice of pet, of which I chose a wolf.  Your pet will fight with you and also take items you wish to sell back to town while you continue your adventure.  No need to constantly travel back and forth to town as your pet will also buy potions for you if you’re running low.  Torchlight II is pure fun and I found myself playing it much longer than my normal one hour review window.  Before I knew it, 2 hours had passed and I was simply enjoying the ride.  There is plenty to do in this game and quest givers will be found everywhere you go.  As I traveled the areas, the map opened up and I found myself wanting to make sure I covered every small inch of a map before moving on and once an area was cleared, it seems that creatures did not respawn.  Perhaps they will reappear eventually but I did not experience that.

torchlight screen 2

While many things about Torchlight II are great, it’s not a perfect game.  Along the way, dungeons will be clearly labeled for a specific level range but the UI doesn’t show you want your level is.  I had to constantly open the character panel to see what level I was before deciding whether to enter a dungeon. Usually, games like this will display your level prominently along with the XP bar so I was really surprised to see it conspicuously missing.  Additionally, while some enemies will attack you from above, you have no way of attacking them back.  There is no concept of attacking uphill in this game.  Even the slightest incline will prevent you from successfully hitting a target.  These slight missteps are not game breakers by any means but I am surprised they were overlooked.

Regardless, Torchlight II is a wonderfully fun dungeon crawler and well deserving of the fans of the original as well as new fans alike.  Be prepared to lose many hours to this game once you begin your adventures.  Battles will be frequent and sometimes very hectic but it never seems impossible.  Even the boss battles, while challenging, were fun to play.  The sense of power comes quickly in this game and I never felt like I needed more abilities for the area I was in.  In fact, the more enemies that surrounded me, the more exhilarated I felt and just wanted more.  Come and get me, you beasts, for you shall not best me!

Runic Games, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.


About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.




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