Review: Torchlight II delivers a fantastic experience from beginning to end
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Following in the footsteps of its predecessors, pets return and provide both a moral and physical support for your character. Your primal companion travels alongside you and assists you in battle, most of the time dealing a considerable amount of damage, as well as tanking quite a bit of hits. While you’re stuck with the pet you choose when you create your character, it can take on various animal forms due to various caught fish in the game which shapeshift your little buddy. In addition, your pet serves as a delivery man of sorts, since you can stash your items into your pets inventory and then shipping it off to sell them. Your pet will leave your side only for two minutes and will return with gold streamlining the selling process since you no longer have to return to town to sell goods.
While old things return, new systems make their debut in the sequel, one of which is called the Charge Bar. Each class comes with a meter at the center bottom of the screen. By killing enemies and attacking them, you can fill up your bar and then expend the amount you accumulated for something special. For instance, Outlanders receive a buff that makes them considerably formidable. This bar further distinguishes the classes giving it that unique “umph.” The feature is interesting to say the least since it adds both diversity and depth to a genre lacking in innovation.
What is combat without enemies to fight against? There are plenty of enemies for you to wrestle with in Torchlight II and while they may seem like pushovers in the early stages of the game, they’re hardly so later on. While it’s simple to just brute force your way, using skills, dodging, and kiting will help to move encounters along much faster. Each enemy won’t up put up a challenge in mere numbers, both in quantity and in the amount of damage they dish out. Special abilities such as pulling you in, pushing you away, or homing missile enemies will mix things up making sure you’re on your toes. If you do happen to fall it’s a hefty sum of gold to respawn where you’re at so it’s advised that you fight well.
Gold isn’t quite easy to acquire in the game, oddly, and this is due to how much gold is required in order to deck out your character. It takes an exorbitant amount to enchant weapons, disassemble items, or do anything. Luckily, you can easily get by without spending any gold and saving up your money for whenever you want to splurge for whatever reason is your best bet.
Although Torchlight II stands up extremely well in terms of customization, combat, and loot-grabbing addictiveness, the game fails to deliver narratively. The intricate and stylistic cutscenes that feel like a Saturday-morning cartoon sets the premise for a fight between good and evil. Beyond that it’s quite unclear what exactly you’re fighting for, personally, leading to a huge disconnect between you and the world.
Not all things are sad in regards to the story. Due to its narrative, Torchlight II takes you to locales with varying visual aesthetic. This nice change of pace holds monotony and boredom at bay. You never overstay your welcome in one place for too long and often times you’re swept away to a new land at the perfect time. It’s still disappointing that the narrative ruins what could’ve attributed to an otherwise stellar game.
Torchlight II doesn’t reinvent the genre nor does it takes leaps and bounds to push it towards a certain direction. Playing it safe with new and old systems that refine what’s already there, you might think that the game isn’t worth your time. However, the time that could be invested in this addictive, fabulous, and fun title, is well worth it. The verdict is thus: great!
Simon is a freelance gaming critic/journalist. He features a weekly column on GameZone called Nitpick. Follow him on Twitter @kayos90