RPG Index: Single player Role Playing Games

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Torchlight 2

There's a reason I'm reviewing the second Torchlight before Diablo 3. Not because it's better, but because Torchlight 2 did not let me down. Sporting cartoon graphics and a simple yet elegant engine, Runic games have done a good job transitioning into a sequel. You will traverse a reasonably long campaign split into acts, basic character customization with detailed and addictive skill/talent system. Also, 6 player multiplayer! So if you have 5 friends instead of 3, screw Diablo and buy this.

Begin your journey and it's raining. Fucking British weather.

Genre: RPG, Roguelike, Hack'n'Slash
Release Date: 20th September 2012
Platforms: PC
Score: 8/10
Similar Titles: Diablo III, Path of Exile, Titan Quest

It's much the same as the original game, which I have already reviewed. Keeping the formula safe, they haven't made any major changes. Sadly, that also means they haven't made any groundbreaking improvements. The only huge and very welcome change places you on an overworld map navigating through numerous areas, as opposed to descending through a single dungeon.

Sadly health potion chugging is sometimes necessary.

You have four classes to pick from, and there is a good difference between them. I did enjoy testing them out- they are all very cool. Embermage is my favorite, but that's because I love Wizards. As you level up you can place lots of points into a single ability; or spread them out and become more versatile. As a whole, personalizing your toon is very satisfying. Leveling up once won't change anything. However, after 10 levels you'll see how your character has developed. Sadly, there's no room for experimentation. Instead of resetting your talents to test out new builds; you can only regress three points. This sucks ass. I had to read every single ability in the game before making any progress, because I was afraid of choosing the wrong skills. Despite this, you really get the unique feeling that you don't get with Diablo. You feel like you've designed your own build, somebody can't decide they like it and copy it in 5 seconds. Overall, evolving your character is the greatest feature of the game with endless opportunities- but forcing you to make a new one when you want to try a new build is a real kick in the balls.

Your inventory is small, but that's what the pet is for.

Gear choice is also a huge factor into your build. It's not just basic stat increases- your gear can reflect damage, and even create random spells. This is good because as opposed to Diablo or other games of this genre- gear choice seems none optional. It's an upgrade, or it's not. In Torchlight, you can get a gear upgrade- but it's also a tradeoff. Do you want a huge amount of armor instead of a hefty attack speed increase?  If you make your choices carefully, you can specialize your weaponry and spells to complement eachother. It's certainly more fun to work with than the usual 'increases x by x'. I really enjoyed selecting items and equipment, especially with the frequency I was forced to make hard gear choices.

You will find mini bosses everywhere.

At the end of the first game, the Alchemist and protagonist is corrupted. So naturally it's your job to clean up the mess you made by trying to save the world in Torchlight. If you didn't play Torchlight- it's still your fault. Jokes aside, the story is rudimentary and the only part of the game that really dips from the stellar experience. But hey, we're here to hack and slash not be immersed in plot. And that's exactly what Runic deliver. The quests are simple, you don't have to spend any time in town. You're figuratively the Hulk.

Real bosses can actually be challenging, from the beginning.

Torchlight 2, or any similar roguelike can be summarized as left and right clicking your way through infinite amounts of randomized dungeon until you just get bored. So how do you decide which one is worth playing? My opinion is to pick the one with the most accessibility, added features, and most importantly; fun. So does Torchlight the second meet this criteria? There are a few reasons it stands out above other games of this genre:

- Your pet can ferry items to town for you, and even return with a few items. Not only that, you can choose and customize the animal. It also fights in combat and you can make it more lethal using consumables obtained from fishing!
- Cartoon graphics make it suitable for a wider audience, provided you're into that sort of thing.
- Huge gear and character development, you get more variety than you're used to.
- The normal campaign can be difficult and a satisfying challenge. Unlike Diablo, which you need to progress to inferno and get overwhelmed.
- Low end computers can play it without hassle.
- Huge modding community backed up with even bigger potential for great mods.
- 6 player co-op, speaks for itself.

Whilst the low budget Runic games might not be able to deal with Blizzard on a financial level, or even on experience; Torchlight 2 still represents a niche area within the RPG brand that makes it a valid purchase. It's a game in its own right, and not just a copy. So if you like the genre, don't dismiss Torchlight! It's fun, it's simple, and like the first title- a miraculous timesink. It's also very affordable.

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