Dungeon crawlers have always taken the dark and gloomy road. The hideous and most gruesome of boss encounters, the weirdest and craziest of dungeons yet at the end of it was Torchlight. A series originally developed by Runic Games, a team made up of ex-Diablo devs that broke that certain format. The series took itself to new heights with the cartoony aesthetics and delivered a vibrant shade for its environment. It offered the same grindy fun as its peers yet amping up the fun with some unique elements that kept it fresh.
Seven years later, Torchlight II arrives on next-gen consoles giving rise to what seemed like a fated reunion with Diablo 3. Now while its visuals don’t seem crisp nor crunchy, the level of fun and hours of play is where it really shines. And as a port to a seven-year-old game, I can live with it though the lack of a double pack with the first game seems like a missed opportunity.
As far as the story goes, it picks up after the events of the first game. The town goes with a literal bang and probably a few flames to match up the excitement thanks to The Alchemist, one of the main characters of the first game that went bonkers due to his research of the Ember. Now the game starts off with a new set of heroes to venture and stop his evil deeds. But while its story seems like a run of the mill job, it goes hand in hand to what would honestly be the meat of the game which is the side adventures and dungeons you’ll be crawling in and out of for the most part.
Torchlight II starts you off with character creation, a pretty decent yet with a humble amount of design choices. You can choose between four different classes, like the crazy Berserker, the stylish Engineer, the wicked Embermage or even the swift Outlander. But the main thing to note here is that the game follows old school terms and conditions. Meaning you’ll be allocating stat points and manually learning the skills and abilities you want. Although what’s really interesting here is that while you have chosen a class that is generally accepted as a melee class, you can still equip a ranged weapon or suit up with lighter armour should you choose and have the right amount of stat points or level to go along with it.
Additionally, each class has its own set of skills like an Embermage with its set of fire, ice or lightning type spells that would determine your build. You can max out a single tree or choose to have multiple skills in different areas of expertise, of course, you only have a set amount of key bindings to go along with it so that’s that, I guess. But it sure does look cool having a barrage of fire and ice spells to create chaos around the battlefield.
Builds don’t rely solely on skills alone though. There’s also the robust set of abilities and stats that gear can have plus the slots that will further improve its overall stats or provide additional options for optimizing a certain class build. And that’s where the game starts to become engaging, there’s a vast amount of customization that no one class feels the same.
The game follows the general idea of exploration just like any dungeon crawler that came before or after. There’s the hub world as a base of operation, open regions that branches into dungeons and monsters that populate the entire world. But while its world is far from original that takes you in the grassy plains, the snowy mountains to even the most barren of deserts, it’s the way you explore the world which makes it more appealing. There’s a vast amount of dungeons and varying side quests to go through and even more so with all the different types of loots you can find within it.
Now with the many inventory-heavy gear and equipment, you’ll be getting throughout your adventure, it comes to no surprise that lugging all that to your person doesn’t seem like a wise decision for long periods of time but that’s where the pets come in. While they generally help you in battle, they also give you support through sprinting in and out of town to sell your wares or buy some much-needed potions or scrolls. Which is not surprising considering there’s that talking dog on Britain’s Got Talent.
Overall, the game is all about the loots and its fun gameplay. The core story is all good and all but never really got me hooked to really save the world before it’s too late. But despite being a bit too repetitive after a while, multiplayer alleviates all that grindiness to just go in a random barrage of fireballs with a friend or random stranger causing unnecessary chaos in the process.
Torchlight II despite showing its age is a solid example of a great game from a past generation that delivers an impressive flood of content to occupy you for hours on end. If you’re looking for that itch that Diablo 3 just couldn’t scratch anymore, this is your next best bet.