Runic have finally released Torchlight 2, and it was with great anticipation that I downloaded this hefty 1.3gb game and installed it via Steam. Sadly I missed out on the very first Torchlight, so the Torchlight Universe was all new to me. Did it live up to my expectations? Is it a worthy successor to the franchise? Let’s take a look.
Torchlight 2 is a real-time action RPG, the story sees it set years after the original game, The Alchemist gets corrupted by the Ember Blight coming from the Heart of Ordrak (who is the evil being who was responsible for the source of destruction in the original Torchlight). Your character, who is fully customisable (and you have a wide selection of male and female characters to initially base your character on) takes on the quest to stop the villain who is using Ordrak’s power to disturb the balance between the World’s six elements. The World that you play in is huge, and just like the first game there are randomly generated caves.
When you set up the game, you also get the choice of having a pet with you. I chose the panther, although there was a wide selection of pets available to choose from. During the game, as with other RPG’s, you can interact with characters as you progress further through the game. Interactions are usually just small and insignificant conversations with the lesser characters. These characters for the most part will repeat statements to you no matter how many times you interact with them. With the more influential characters, you have more in-depth conversations with regards to your quest, and the more of the quest you open, the more the conversations with these characters will change.
For the most part you will find yourself running around and killing all sorts of enemies, from skeletons to giants and some freakish ghostly figures. Control is simple with the mouse, just click on the part of the screen that you want to visit and you and your pet will head in that general direction. Scattered through the various landscapes you will find treasure chests, various objects and plenty of coins. You can collect everything, and your inventory will soon fill up with all matter of objects and potions.
To destroy the enemies you have to use the mouse keys left or right buttons, the action that this makes all depends on how you have set up your weapons, at the start of the level you will own guns which can have a quite deadly effect of your foes. The controls are very intuitive, and although they are set out well, I did on occasions find my character running to a different part of the screen from where I pointed, usually because there was a structure in the way and the my character could not find the easy route to where I pointed.
A core aspect of the game that has changed since the first game is the addition of extra modes of play. These come in the form of a new co-op Multiplayer mode which can be played via LAN or over the internet for free. This is a great idea and should really add to the already deep gameplay. There are also a number of other additions such as something called New Game Plus which basically allows you to replay the game once you have completed it, while keeping all your gold and items you picked up on the first run through, but with the difficulty ramped up. To keep things interesting there is also a game editor which you can share with friends, and you still have your pets and fishing to keep you company. It’s not a huge amount different from the original game, but it should be enough to make Torchlight 2 an even more entertaining game and make the experience last longer.
The whole game can become quite hectic as you progress, so just like other RPG games you will have to use your potions and spells to give you more manna and energy. This again is very straight forward, and you just visit the inventory screen and right click on the object that you wish to use. The game will hold your hand through the first few levels, giving you hints and tips, so even if you are a novice at these types of games, following the on-screen instructions will make your life a whole lot easier.
Graphically the game really shines. The games first level with the rain really gives you a sense of the games World. The lighting effects are very impressive, and the little glow from the fires and various objects light up the game in a magical and mystical way. The game also zooms in and out of action should you want it to, and the scaling of the graphics is also done well. Graphically, it’s not a case of mind-blowing high-resolution, but well done and well thought out detailed and stylised graphics. The sound is also pretty cool, with some whimsical tunes and a selection of interesting sound effects. There is plenty of speech in the game also, although some characters will keep muttering the same sentences over and over again.
I was pleasantly surprised by Torchlight 2. The gameplay is intuitive and genuinely fun while you explore the maps, and the array of enemies and items you pick up is large enough to keep you interested. The main campaign is easy to understand and easy to play, while on harder levels you are given a much harder task, just as it should be. The addition of the extra modes means the game should last you even longer than the original, and the level editor should satisfy even the most dedicated fan of the game. Torchlight 2 is easy enough to play to make it a great introduction into RPG gaming, while on the harder levels it offers a satisfying challenge.