Torchlight 2′s regular price is quite low, $20. However I received it at 66% off for an $8 value! This is by far one of the cheaper games I’ve reviewed and price is an important indicator in these reviews.
So how will Torchlight 2 fair?
The Brief: Why Torchlight?
It seems odd that such a low budget and low cost game would make such a big splash in the gaming market. But it did.
Why? You might ask.
Back in 1996 Blizzard Entertainment made Diablo. It was a hack and slash, action adventure, dungeon crawling game. The beauty of Diablo was that all dungeons were completely randomized meaning that every single playthrough was going to be a unique experience. There was also a random loot generator to further this.
Diablo’s amazing commercial success along with Warcraft 2 made Blizzard Entertainment a household name and gave them the reputation for quality that they still have today.
Various other dungeon crawlers would emerge to try and compete with Diablo but by and far people were still happy only playing Diablo. The release of Diablo 2 was another important step in the development of the dungeon crawling game. But once again people were really hard t o stop playing Diablo 2 as even the player versus player in this game was vastly superior to other games.
So when Diablo 3 was set to release in 2012 it was the single most anticipated game of the year (yes more than Mass Effect 3, Hitman Absolution, and Max Payne 3 combined).
Five minutes into the game I’m holding up my local merchant
But Diablo 3′s launch was completely botched. Initially people playing the game received an error based on the online Battle.net play. Diablo 3 turned out to be a very big grind in which people would choose to spend real world money on money making gear rather than use the best possible items they have in the game. Diablo 3, failed.
It was for good reason of course. Diablo 3 went through three different development teams. The first team left Blizzard to make Hellgate London. The second team was laid off for their inability to make progress on the title. The third team finished the game, packaged it and shipped it.
So when Diablo 3 failed people were looking for an alternative. Torchlight 2 was it. The few fans of the Torchlight series could not stop talking about how amazing the game was. It had everything Diablo 3 needed and none of it’s weaknesses. A lot of this has to do with the fact that most of the development team for Torchlight were former Blizzard employees.
On top of that Torchlight 2 had the price benefit. While Blizzard was more than happy to charge $60 for a game that ought to have cost pennies on the dollar they sought to charge full price. Torchlight 2 had won the hearts and minds of gamers.
But is it any good?
Dungeon crawlers are not new to me, they’re just not a game I often enjoy playing. I have played a few Dungeon Sieges and one of the three Diablos. But I haven’t really seen a need to play these kind of games.
Torchlight 2 starts off with selecting one of four classes. There is one melee class and three ranged classes. However all classes can wield every weapon in the game so you could do those weird things like make a hunter who only uses staves.
As far as customization goes you can choose gender, name, hair color, facial expression and eye color. Generally speaking for this sort of game that’s a lot of customization. Generally you just play one archetype of one of the hero types.
After selecting your character you are brought into the world of Torchlight. A battle was fought over some evil demon and the heroes won. However the heroes from the last game are all seen struggling against a new greater evil and are all mortally injured and unable to pursue him. Luckily these new heroes have arrived (you).
You have two buttons, left click and right click. Left click is your non-mana using attack that deals less damage. Right click is your mana using ability that you can choose. For the hero I chose I could choose between a really potent single target attack, one that bounced to hit multiple targets or one that shot in a line. You can also bind attacks to your toolbar and assign them from 1-9… but in this sort of game generally the fewer mana costing attacks you have… the better.
As you level up you will be able to invest points in getting passive talents or upgrading your magic ability. You can also invest points into a Stats tab to gain more health, mana, dodge, or armor. As well they all increase damage in some manner or the other.
The game works in terms of quests and dungeons. You get a quest to go to a dungeon, you complete the dungeon, you complete the quest.
Along the way however you will run into quest givers who will give you dungeons along the way to complete. As well there are “overworld” bosses all over the place who will give you special loot.
Dungeons have degrees of intrigue. There are many that will have puzzles for you to solve. My favorite was a slider puzzle.
Exploring gives it’s rewards as well. Exploring I was able to find “challenges” in which I have to kill multiple enemies at once for large scale rewards. As well exploring you will find secret areas full of loot.
The game has five difficulty levels. I mention this because their difficulty only has to do with how much grinding you are required to do. But seemingly I explore every single nook and cranny of a map and so I played on the hardest difficulty. The hardest difficulty much like Diablo 3 just meant more grinding, no actual difficulty increase as gear could overcome any boss.
However there is one difficulty mode that made it challenging, Permanent Death. This mechanic in Diablo made sense because you would save and then just go back to your save. In this game your saving is less frequent and so permanent death becomes very hard to deal with.
Much like every single RPG game as of late there is a pet. The pet provides moderate damage tanking, some damage, and can carry inventory. On top of that there is a neat “send to town” ability that means you can keep playing while he is doing his work.
Additionally your dog can be geared with dog tags. Another feature is to feed him a type of fish that you fish in a fishing pool. This fish will change your pet into an enemy type and give it some sort of buff.
The multiplayer in the game works like Diablo 2. You enter someone’s world but don’t have to play with them, it’s entirely an option. Honestly a lot of the times I would just enter people’s worlds so that I could farm their bosses and steal their loot.
The game’s play length is roughly 20 hours for a single playthrough with an additional 30 hours to get to level cap (Level 100).
- Replay Value
- Intense Boss Fights
- Highly Customizable
- New Story Plus
After finishing the game the first time I thought “I’d like to play online next time as a different hero.” So I started up a second game with online play. It’s rare in this day and age that after finishing a game that I think of anything else but to delete it off of my computer and never play it again. This game gave enough value for me to openly admit I’m now a tab bit interested in Diablo 3.
And just like that, there was no enemy
The boss fights varied and were interesting. Small mistakes on the hardest difficulty yielded maximum punishments. I was honestly surprised going in how much harder the first boss fight was compared to the remainder of the game. I was also surprised that they had unique abilities. The last one of these games I played bosses were just characters. In this one, they were bosses to be dealt with.
Even though you select a class you can play any style you want. Classes only give you bonuses. Although I did end up playing the style it was designed as the thought did come from time to time to pull out a 2-handed weapon and smush my enemies with it.
There are people out there who enjoy grinding and leveling. For such people New Story Plus is available. New Story Plus is basically you replay the game with a leveled hero. It means not starting from the beginning going through all of the new guy content.
- Linear Dungeons
It’s not really a problem with this game, it’s a problem with the dungeon crawler genre. Dungeon crawlers are infamously grindy. This game is not as grindy as Diablo 3 but is significantly more grindy than similar titles. Difficulty setting means how much content you can skip. Games like Borderlands got it right, make the content optional but make it so good people will WANT to do it anyway. Instead what you get is a bunch of “go kill this dungeon” type things.
The genre standard for dungeon crawlers is to have these big giant open dungeons with many twists and turns to explore. This game had linear designed corridors that you could draw a line through. Honestly what mad scientist designed these linear hallways? Was he hoping that heroes could just rush to the leader and kill him? Is that part of this evil plan? Because it sure as hell doesn’t make for fun gameplay. Yes it’s slightly different every time you enter it with mostly randomly generated bosses, but dear god is it ever linear.
Silence of the Lambs meets Torchlight 2
A lot of the time I felt the story got in the way of things. Or maybe I should re-phrase that. It’s like you spend 2 hours crawling through various dungeons getting loot and then story creeps up and tells you that there is stuff going on. Diablo (the original) simply had you crawl through a dungeon and gave you a linear story book with semi-relevant events. This game seemingly has not improved on this formula whatsoever. It’s fine to have a linear storyline in a non-linear dungeon. It however sucks to have a non-linear storyline in a linear dungeon.
Torchlight 2 isn’t game of the year. It’s not the most exciting game you will ever play.
But it’s well worth it’s money. It is most definitely not an overrated title, it is exactly what people say it is, a good game. At such a low price point it’s hard to resist buying this game and is most definitely a welcome surprise to the mess of bullshit titles available through Steam sales.
The multiplayer community for this game is still alive. You will love jumping into this game and will have problems tearing yourself away from the keyboard.