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Torchlight 2 [PC] Review

Posted on September 30, 2012 AT 07:01pm

It’s a little known fact that any video game with ferrets is automatically much better than a game without ferrets. Torchlight 2 has ferrets. Therefore Torchlight 2 is much better than the games without ferrets. I will be demonstrating why this is the case.

Some sequels go in a completely new direction, while others stick with a proven formula and improve on it. Torchlight 2 is in the second category. All the features that were present in the first game are still there, except better. Instead of a small over world with a bunch of dungeons, now there are huge over worlds to explore with lots of dungeons. Instead of three characters to choose from, there are four classes that are fully customizable. And instead of a weird story that doesn’t make much sense, there’s a story that completely baffles me and isn’t coherent at all. Ah, that’s not an improvement, is it? It’s a good thing that the addictiveness of the game doesn’t rely on the story at all (it does, however, rely on the ferret). In fact, the lack of a good story is so unimportant that I won’t even mention it for the rest of this review, so don’t let that scare you away from this game.

The typical RPG elements are still here in Torchlight 2. Kill enemies by clicking on them, level up, pick new skills and allocate points to various traits. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but the skill tree is very fleshed out for each character. I spent the majority of my time with Torchlight 2 as the Embermage, and even with all the different spells available, found myself using a few spells most of the time. It turns out that lightning powers are awesome, so that’s where I put all of my skill points. If a mage class isn’t your style, then you can choose from three other typical classes. The Berserker fills the role that the Destroyer played in the first game, and allows you to get up close and personal with all the enemies. The Outlander is a rogue class that is perfect for staying back and doing ranged damage. The Engineer uses science combined with magic to cause a wonderful amount of devastation. Within all of these classes are three sub classes from which you can pick and choose skills to better suit your play style. And in case you make a mistake distributing your skill points, you can pay a small fee to respec your last three skills. Once you get beyond that point, those skills are set. For some reason, your ferret cannot help you with this problem. I’m not sure why… There are rumors of a Potion of Respec floating around, but I never came across one in my travels.

The enemies of Torchlight 2 are varied and exciting to fight, but the game really shines in the boss fights. As is standard in this genre, you’ll walk into a foreboding chamber and find a gigantic foe that doesn’t like you for some reason. You can then proceed to kill it, which is made difficult by the large number of smaller enemies that are constantly being summoned to the fight. Although I didn’t know why I was fighting each boss, I was more than happy to do so. These chaotic fights were the highlight of my time with Torchlight 2, and they’re especially rewarding, not only because of the massive pile of loot you get at the end, but also because of the lovely, gory explosion once you fully deplete the boss’s health bar. Yes, you get explosions similar to this throughout the game, but the boss explosions are especially wonderful.

But what would an RPG be without loot? Many loot based games have the problem of too much loot that can easily overwhelm your inventory. Every time a boss drops twenty items, you feel the urge to pick them all up, even if you plan to keep none of it and sell it instead. In a game like Torchlight 2, it’s rare that you’re in a position to easily access a merchant, and in most games, you would face the choice of either taking the time to go back to a merchant, or not picking up all the loot. Torchlight 2 doesn’t force you to make that choice, because your ferret can take care of it for you. That’s right; the ferret saves the day once again.

The weapons and armor in the game what you’d expect, but there are a few twists. Every once in a while, you’ll come across an augmented weapon, which becomes more powerful as you kill more enemies (only kills that occur while the weapon is equipped count toward the next level). Some weapons also have Ember sockets. Embers are magical gems that you’ll find during your travels, and they’ll bestow additional powers to your weapons and armor. And if you want to separate a weapon/armor from an Ember, you’re in luck, but the process will destroy either the Ember or the weapon/armor. All weapons and armor have the chance of having magical properties that affect various stats, and there are even mysterious cat people that will enchant your equipment, for a price. I have no idea why there are mysterious cat people, but they are friendly!

Yes, I’ve gone on a bit too much about ferrets. After all, there are other pets in the game. If you prefer something that flies rather than walks, choose the hawk. Cats and dogs do return from the original game, but with a nice touch of variety. Any pet that you choose will stand by your side, fight enemies, and carry your burdens (and they won’t be snarky about it). Pets even have their own equipment slots for tags (in case they get lost) and a collar. If you don’t like multiplayer, you can still have a loyal traveling companion to lend a claw or paw when necessary.

Speaking of multiplayer, I only tried it once since I don’t know anyone who bought Torchlight 2. I created an open, online game, and one person joined. But I never saw him. I didn’t even know he had joined my game until I noticed a new icon on the screen indicating another player. Apparently he went into some temple to adventure, so if he spawned next to me when he first joined, he didn’t want to join my adventure. But I don’t feel too bad about it, since I have a ferret to accompany me.

From what I’ve heard, the multiplayer has individually instanced loot, so you don’t have to feel bad about grabbing all the loot dropped, since each player has their own loot drops. This design decision is probably for the best, since there’s no way for players to duel for an awesome piece of loot. You can, however, trade loot with other players if you pick up something you have no use for. Or, if you don’t have any friends (sad face), you can throw some loot into a shared stash, which is accessible by any characters you create.

SUMMARY: Torchlight 2 takes the things that everyone loved from the first game and made them so much better. It’s clear that Runic Games listened to their fans, since they added the co-op that everyone wished was in the original Torchlight. The game is addictive, whether you play it alone or with friends (or with a stranger who abandons you). It relies on everyone’s desire for better loot, and it does it well. Sure, they could have thrown in a story that matters, but honestly, wouldn’t that just get in the way of killing and looting?

  • THE GOOD: Great classes with fun skills, more than enough loot to keep you busy for a while, and ferrets
  • THE BAD: It’s not the prettiest game around, that’s for sure
  • THE UGLY:If you try and follow the story, you’ll end up with motion sickness

Score: 8.0

Mike Fugate is the type of guy that you can count on to blab all your secrets to the world. He also kind of has a thing for video games, exercise, and Buckyballs. If for some reason you want to listen to him talk, go listen to his PC Gaming podcast AFC - Away From Computer here on DigitalNoob.

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